Weight restriction orders make it an offence to drive a vehicle through the restricted area where the vehicle exceeds the weight limit imposed unless they are delivering or collecting within the weight restriction.
The police and the Trading Standards Service can enforce weight restriction orders under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. In Oxfordshire, routine inspections are made across the county to ensure that vehicles are not breaking these orders.
Weight restriction orders are intended to:
- protect old or weak bridges and structures
- bar heavy vehicles from areas unsuitable for their size or if they pose a danger, for example, narrow village roads, adjoining schools.
Revised Road Weight Restriction Enforcement Programme
This summary outlines the revised approach to road weight restriction enforcement by Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service from October 2020.
A revised approach is required to reflect the reduced capacity available for this aspect of the Trading Standards Service’s work as a consequence of in-year budget reductions necessary to meet the costs of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Revised Enforcement Programme
The Trading Standards Service will continue to enforce the weight restrictions on the county’s roads. Until 31st March 2021 the enforcement programme will consist of-
- High visibility stop/checks conducted with Thames Valley Police (dependant on Thames Valley Police assistance being available). These stop/checks are very efficient, ensuring that drivers who contravene weight restrictions and other traffic laws can be issued with Fixed Penalty Notices, reducing the need to invest resources in desk-based report preparation and the processing of prosecutions. They also provide a visible deterrent and combine weight restriction enforcement with other driving offences enforcement (e.g. unsecure loads, unroadworthy vehicles, tachograph offences etc). Stop/checks will be prioritised in areas of high public concern about weight restriction contraventions.
- Pro-active Officer Checks. These checks will be conducted by Trading Standards Enforcement Officers in high visibility marked cars. They will be targeted at priority areas/roads, including those of high public concern and where weak infrastructure needs to be protected. Vehicles are not stopped during these checks, but reliable evidence is gathered and investigations instigated. They reduce the delays and uncertainties arising from relying on witness statements from members of the public. They are also visible to drivers and communities, providing a visible deterrent and reassurance.
- ANPR detected contraventions. Investigation of ANPR detected contraventions will be targeted at the most aggravating situations, as well as more generally on random days to ensure that any contravention - not just the most significant could result in formal action. We will continue to ensure that there is a level of public awareness of visible enforcement.
In addition, Trading Standards staff will continue to assist other OCC teams and local communities on the development of new community-led initiatives, where this is requested.
Under this revised programme, we will continue to ask members of the public to report potential contraventions to us as these reports help us decide where to target best our resources going forward.
Round up of enforcement work undertaken in 2019
- Vehicles identified by Trading Standards enforcement officers: 119
- Public reports of HGV’s in weight restriction areas: 258
- Enforcement checks by enforcement officers at weight restriction sites: 21
- ANPR camera reports from Newbridge: 816
- Warning letters to drivers found in breach of weight restrictions: 383
- No further action (typically because the HGV has a destination inside the weight restriction): 174
- Wrong registration provided so no action possible: 5
- Investigation still in progress: 549
- Repeat offenders identified: 3
- Total prosecutions: 95
- Total fines: £34,502.00
- Marsh Baldon
- Long Wittenham
- Clifton Hampden
- North Moreton
- Sutton Courtenay
The use of ANPR cameras at Newbridge
Newbridge is a listed ancient monument which is subject to an 18 tonnes maximum gross weight restriction which applies to all vehicles, not just HGVs. Installing cameras will enable Trading Standards to identify every overweight vehicle that crosses the bridge.
New cameras and improved signs, along with active enforcement will protect the bridge from unnecessary and expensive damage.
In 2017, new signs, to assist drivers in avoiding the bridge, have been added to the extensive range of signs which were already in place.
Further details about the use of the cameras can be obtained at 01865 815000. If you have a complaint about the use of the cameras please use our complaints procedure.
Advice for drivers of heavy vehicles
- the driver of the vehicle is liable for the offence. The company could also be responsible as the user of the vehicle.
- if your vehicle is seen breaching a weight restriction you may be prosecuted. The maximum fine is £1,000. The council will also seek to recover prosecution costs.
How to avoid breaching a weight restriction order
- know the plated weight and individual axle weights for your vehicle
- plan your route in advance to avoid weight-restricted areas, guidance can be found on http://freightgateway.co.uk/oxfordshire/
- ensure that you display any exemption permit that may be applicable to your journey
- following satnav advice does not create a defence acceptable in law.
Finding out the maximum gross weight and axle weights of your vehicle
The maximum permitted gross and the axle weights of your vehicle can be found listed on 'plates', which must be fitted to all vehicles and certain trailers. These will either be a manufacturer's plate or a Department of Transport plate and are usually located either in the cabin or under the bonnet of vehicles or on the chassis of trailers. The weights are given in metric units of kilograms (kg).
Advice for residents
Reporting breaches of weight restrictions in your area
We are working with Neighbourhood Watch groups to protect Oxfordshire's roads and bridges and safeguard local communities. You can use the online form below to report breaches.
Help in identifying vehicle types