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How Abnormal transport is about more than you think

What is abnormal transport?

An abnormal load is defined as a load that exceeds the weight and dimensions of the legal limits. Different types of loads must abide by select regulations along with being accompanied by an escort for the safety of road users in the vicinity of the vehicle.

Abnormal load transport is used for units that exceed the weight and dimensions of what can normally be allowed to be transported on roads, because they cannot be dismantled into smaller units. The NRTA dictates the conditions of what may be considered for abnormal transport and the regulations that these should follow, along with what would be allowed a permit to be transported.

In South Africa, an exemption permit will be granted if it can be proven that the transport of the load will advance social interests. This permit gives permission for the load to be on the road under certain conditions within a stipulated period of time. This is only allowed when there are no other means to get the load to the given destination and if there is no danger presented to other road users. Abnormal load transport most often takes place in the mining and construction industries, but is also a common occurrence in plant and crane hire.

To successfully carry out this transport, qualified drivers, drivers’ assistants, escort drivers and yard assistants are needed to be employed.

Loads that require abnormal transport

Abnormal transport refers to loads that exceed the legal dimensions allowed on South African roads. The dimensions exceeded may be done so in the length, width, height or wheelbase limitations.

The overhands and load projections may be over the legal limit which will also mean the transport falls within an abnormal-load classification. Another reason for this classification is when the weight of the vehicle, and load or mass on each axle, is more than the legal limits.

  • The length of a truck or semi-trailer cannot exceed 18.50 m.
  • The length of a Superlink cannot be over 22 m.
  • The width must not be more than 2.70 m.
  • The height restrictions are 4.30 m from the ground.
  • The limit for a 13.50 m Tri-Axle is 28 tons.
  • The limit for a 15 m Tri-Axle is 30 tons.
  • Superlinks have a gross limit of 24 tons.

If the load exceeds these restrictions, a permit must be obtained from the Transport and Public Works for each Province that the load will travel through.

Ensuring safety on abnormal load transport

The stipulations for abnormal transport have been put in place to protect other road users. The risk of accidents is increased due to a variety of factors, such as:

  • decreased visibility around the vehicle,
  • increased traffic (which may be a consequence of abnormal loads on the road), and
  • decreased average speed of travel.

Abnormal load transportation is not approved during peak times of year when roads experience high traffic. This includes long weekends due to public holidays, as well as school holidays.

Dependent on what type of load is being transported, additional equipment such as lowbed trailers and step decks, may be required. According to the dimensions and weight/mass of the load, a certain number of escorts and traffic officers are required during transportation.

Regulations increase in strictness according to the increase in load size. Accompanying escort vehicles are marked cars that protect the abnormal load and other road users by alerting motorists to the presence of the abnormal load being transported on the road. The abnormal load driver usually has impaired visuals on the road because the load is so large and the escort assists with the successful navigation to the final destination.

It may be deemed essential to make use of consulting engineers for extra-large loads. Insurance that covers damage to private or public property during the transportation of abnormal loads is also required.

The pre-planned route must be suitable for abnormal transport and any bridges must be able to handle the load. If you need abnormal load transport on your project, get in touch with us on +27 (0) 82 659 3315 or send us a query here.

Source: Truck and Trailer


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