If you are driving a vehicle or towing a trailer carrying a load, you need to ensure the load is correctly restrained.
Load restraint is not just about ensuring your load does not come off, it is also about ensuring it does not shift, making the vehicle unsafe to handle or allows the load to crash into the driver's cabin, which may cause injury or death.
If you don't restrain a load properly you may cause an accident, injury or death due to:
- Objects falling from your vehicle on to other traffic or pedestrians;
- Other drivers swerving to dodge items that are falling or have fallen from your vehicle;
- Loads that have spilt onto the road causing other vehicles to skid and lose control;
- Uncovered loads crashing into your vehicle cabin during emergency braking;
- Loads shifting if they aren't restrained properly which may contribute to your car rolling over.
The overriding load restraint requirements in Queensland require any load carried on or in your vehicle or trailer must:
- Not be placed in a way that makes your vehicle unstable or unsafe;
- Be secured so it won't move or fall from your vehicle whilst driving. If for instance you have to brake in an emergency or turn suddenly;
- Not protrude from your vehicle, which could possibly injure a person, obstruct the path of other drivers or pedestrians, or damage another vehicle;
- Be restrained using an appropriate load restraint method.
In addition, loads must not cover number plates, lights and reflectors. If a load projects more than 1.2 metres behind a motor vehicle or a trailer OR if the load is not easily visible to a person following immediately behind a vehicle or trailer, a brightly coloured red, red and yellow, or yellow flag (measuring at least 450mm by 450mm) must be affixed to the extreme back of the load. Additionally, at night, a red light or at least two red reflectors must be affixed to the extreme back of such a load.
The load restraint laws apply to all vehicles regardless of their gross vehicle mass. Consigners, loaders and receivers also have a responsibility to ensure the load restraint requirements are met.
If you don't secure your load properly, you may get a fine or, for a serious breach, you could be prosecuted.
Garden refuse in utes or trailers
Garden refuse will generally be light enough to be blown off a ute or trailer by a breeze during transport. As such, the refuse will need to be covered by tarpaulin (secured so that it does not move during transit) or netting. If the refuse is loaded above the sides of the ute or trailer, more restraint (straps, netting or rope) is required.
Furniture and white goods
Furniture and white goods in utes and trailers
Tall items of furniture or white goods (such as fridges) should be restrained to headboards to ensure they do not fall over as a result of braking, the vehicle negotiating a corner, or the vehicle taking evasive action. All furniture (unless it does not extend above the sides of the ute or trailer and is tightly packed) should be tightly restrained using rope or webbing straps. The use of webbing straps to restrain such loads is better than the use of ropes as, although a rope may feel tight, the amount of tension in it will be relatively low. Furniture should be tightly packed, and spaces between items of furniture in a load should be filled with dunnage or packing materials to ensure the load does not move and loosen the lashings.
If boxes are tightly packed and are not loaded above the sides of a ute or trailer, then rope or webbing straps will not be required to restrain the load. Otherwise, rope or webbing straps should be used. Top corner protector angles for boxes should also be considered to reduce the likelihood of boxes getting crushed.
Loose, smaller tools should not be transported unrestrained in the back of utes or trailers. They should be contained within tool boxes which are adequately restrained. Larger tools (e.g. garden tools like shovels) should be restrained by ropes, straps or a cargo net if they are not adequately contained by the body.
- Similar items should be bundled together to form a more stable, single unit;
- Webbing straps are more effective than ropes;
- Nets and tarpaulins are generally an easy and effective way to restrain lighter items;
- Avoid loading heavier items on top of lighter items;
- Fill gaps between larger items with smaller items, dunnage or packing material;
- Check the load and the tension of ropes and webbing shortly after commencing a journey as the load may settle and/or shift, causing restraints to loosen;
- Check the load every time an item is removed or added to;
- Seats in vans and station wagons are generally not adequate for preventing loads (particularly heavy loads) from moving forward in emergency braking situations. The use of cargo barriers is recommended;
- Long items of steel, particularly pipes, can be slippery. Wooden dunnage or rubber matting can be used to prevent such items slipping. Looping lashings around several items in a bundle will help prevent items sliding out