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Thu, February 29, 2024

Articulated Lorry Weight and Dimensions

Articulated Lorry Weight and Dimensions

Articulated, class 1, CE goods vehicles play a vital role within the commercial transport industry. However, it's crucial to note that both the driver and operator must adhere strictly to legal weight limits to ensure compliance with the law. Overloading a CE vehicle is strictly prohibited under the operator licensing scheme and general road laws. It poses significant safety risks and can lead to serious legal consequences for both the driver and the operator.


Articulated Lorry Weight


Explaining the weight of an articulated lorry and its components


Articulated goods vehicles, also known as CE vehicles, are designed to transport heavy loads efficiently. However, it's essential for drivers to understand the legal weight constraints and dimensions to ensure compliance with regulations. This includes being aware of the maximum weight limits, as well as the dimensions in terms of height, width, and length.


Factors influencing the overall weight of an articulated truck


As articulated vehicles may sometimes carry loads that exceed the width of the vehicle, drivers have specific legal responsibilities. It's crucial for lorry drivers and operators to familiarize themselves with the various weight categories and dimensions applicable to HGV CE vehicles in the UK.


Understanding weight measurements in kilograms (kg)


Understanding these regulations helps drivers prevent overloading and ensures safe operation on the roads. Compliance with weight limits and dimensions is not only a legal requirement but also contributes to road safety and the efficient transportation of goods.


Dimensions of Articulated Lorries in the UK


Weight Categories of HGV CE Type Vehicles:


Any goods vehicle with a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) exceeding 3.5 tonnes is required to have a Ministry Plate (VTG) displayed in the cab. This plaque, typically A5 in size and colored brown/yellow, contains important information regarding the weight limits and constraints of the truck. It is crucial for drivers to familiarize themselves with the vehicle's Ministry Plate and fully understand the weight limits specified for their vehicle.

The weight limits displayed include:

a) Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW): The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), also known as Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) or Gross Weight, represents the maximum weight of the vehicle plus its authorized load capacity. In essence, it signifies the legal maximum weight at which the vehicle can operate. Exceeding the MAM is considered an offense, and both the driver and the operator can face prosecution for doing so. 


b) Gross Train Weight (GTW): The Gross Train Weight (GTW) indicates the maximum weight at which a vehicle, when towing a trailer, is legally permitted to operate. It encompasses the combined weight of the unit (prime mover) and the trailer. All articulated vehicles will have a GTW displayed on the ministry plate in the cab, as they are designed to pull trailers as part of their operation. Exceeding the permitted GTW of a prime mover and trailer is an offense. 

c) Axle Weight: The axle weight listed indicates the maximum weight that may be imposed on the road surface by a particular axle. To avoid overloading on any axle, it is crucial to distribute the load evenly throughout the load compartment. It's important to note that you can exceed the axle weight limit while staying within the MAM of the vehicle. Each axle's limit will be displayed on the VTG6. 


Vehicle Heights and Width

In addition to weight, the dimensions of HGV CE type vehicles, particularly height and width, are crucial factors to consider. These dimensions greatly influence the vehicle's suitability for navigating various routes and infrastructure in the UK. Below are the key dimensions to consider:


a) Vehicle Height:To avoid incidents such as bridge strikes, CE drivers must be mindful of their vehicle's height and be aware of bridge clearances. Any goods vehicle with a height exceeding 3.0 meters must have this information prominently displayed in the cab. It's important to note that the height of some trucks may vary depending on their cargo, requiring adjustments to the height indicator accordingly.


To mitigate the risk of bridge strikes, all height restrictions, such as those for bridges and tunnels, below 5.0 meters are clearly marked with the height information. Additionally, drivers of tall-sided vehicles should plan their routes carefully, especially on unfamiliar roads, to avoid encountering any height restrictions along the way.

In the event of a bridge strike, it is imperative that the driver notifies the police and the Railway Authority immediately. Providing the bridge number or plaque details can help authorities respond effectively to the incident and minimize disruption.

 b) Vehicles Widths:The width and length of your goods vehicle are indicated on the ministry plate (VTG6). According to construction and use regulations (C&U), HGV CE vehicles are not manufactured to exceed 2.55 meters in width. This specification is aimed at ensuring that articulated vehicles can safely traverse UK roads and motorways.

However, there are instances where the load may surpass the permitted width limit. In such cases, special provisions regarding marking of the vehicle come into effect. Similar to height restrictions, effective route planning becomes crucial. If the load exceeds certain widths, markers must be visibly displayed on the vehicle to alert other road users.

Failure to comply with excessive width regulations for articulated vehicles carries penalties for both the driver and the operator. Therefore, strict adherence to these regulations is essential to avoid legal consequences and uphold road safety standards. 






Understanding the different weight categories and dimensions of articulated vehicles is crucial for safety and compliance when driving HGVs on the UK's roads. Adhering to these regulations is a legal requirement, and the penalties for being involved in a bridge strike can be catastrophic. We hope this overview has given you a clearer insight into the varied weight categories, their implications, and how they apply to your goods vehicle. It’s not just the driver who needs to be aware of the vehicle's weight and dimensions; the entire transportation chain, including loaders, traffic planners, and the Transport Manager (TM), must be informed. Empowering yourself with this knowledge will assist you in meeting your legal obligations as a Class 1 articulated vehicle driver. By prioritizing safety and compliance, we can ensure the smooth operation of HGV CE type vehicles and contribute to a reliable and sustainable transportation industry in the UK.


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