Your vehicle will handle differently depending on how much weight it’s carrying and how the weight is distributed. Because of the forces acting on a large vehicle such as a bus, you’ll need to take particular care when you’re driving
- around roundabouts
- on slip roads
- on long (fast) bends.
Avoid driving too fast in these situations or steering, accelerating and braking suddenly.
Calculating your vehicle’s weight
You’ll need to know how much your vehicle weighs because there may be weight limits on roads and bridges. You’ll also need to make sure you do not overload your vehicle or exceed the maximum authorised mass (MAM).
You can find out your vehicle’s unladen weight by checking the information plate: this is usually in the vehicle cab or near the driver’s seat. To estimate the actual weight of your vehicle including passengers, luggage and fuel, add to the unladen weight
- 1 tonne per 15 passengers
- 330 kg per 15 cases
- 100 litres (weighing 100 kg) per 15 passengers.
Check the carrying capacity on the sign in your vehicle, near the front.
Changes to the weight of your vehicle
A vehicle that is loaded will handle differently to one that is unladen. Whenever the weight of your vehicle or the distribution of weight in your vehicle changes, you’ll need to adjust the way you drive and think about whether you need to make any adjustments to the vehicle.
When your vehicle is loaded, try to
- brake in good time and, if possible, when driving in a straight line
- look well ahead to avoid harsh braking
- reduce speed before making a turn to avoid turning and braking at the same time.
When loading your vehicle, think about the best way to organise the load and how to secure it to make sure items do not move around while you’re driving. As a general rule, the weight of the load should be distributed evenly over the axles to increase stability of load. You may need to use ropes, straps or other equipment to keep the load secure.
If you steer, accelerate or brake suddenly, it can cause the load on your vehicle to become unstable or even fall off, which then makes the vehicle unstable.
- Sudden acceleration can make a load shift to the back of the vehicle.
- Harsh braking may make the load move forward, causing the vehicle to skid or making the front of the vehicle dip downwards.