Abnormal Freight


An abnormal load is a material object which due to its dimensions or mass, cannot be transported on a vehicle or vehicles without exceeding the limitations of either dimensions or mass. 

The road Transport Management system regarding abnormal loads

RTMS is an Industry-led-self-regulation scheme that encourages consignees, consignors and transport operators engaged in road logistics value chain to implement a vehicle management system that preserves road infrastructure, improves road safety and increases the productivity of the Logistic value chain. This scheme also supports the department of Transport’s National Freight Logistic Strategy. Guidelines for granting of exemption permits for the conveyance of abnormal loads and for other events on public roads. The need for the provinces to adopt a uniformed policy on the conveyance of abnormal loads has been felt for some years. In 1970 a committee was therefore appointed to draw up recommendations for a policy regarding the conveyance of Abnormal Loads. The recommendations of the abnormal loads committee were accepted by the National Transport Commission and the Committee of State road authorities and were approved by the administrators of the Cape, Natal, Orange Free state, Transvaal and South West Africa in October 1973. During 1974 the NITRR of the CSIR, on behalf of the abnormal loads committee, published a document titled “The conveyance of abnormal loads CTRH11, 1974” which contained recommendations on dimensional mass limitations as well as escort requirements for abnormal vehicles. In 1996 The Abnormal loads Technical Committee was reconstituted under the Roads Coordinating Committee (RCC) of the Committee of Land Transport Officials (COLTO) 

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Legal axel road limits and the restriction imposed on abnormally heavy or large loads. An abnormal vehicle means a vehicle or combination of vehicles which, by virtue of its dimensions or mass, or a combination of both, does not comply with the requirements of the Road Traffic Regulations. An Administrative Officer is the person appointed by the Carrier and who, as the abnormal load vehicle is concerned, is responsible for all deeds and actions of the carrier to whom a permit has been granted. An AV number means a reference number which has been allocated to a vehicle, or a combination of vehicles, and which has been entered in a register of abnormal vehicles approved by the Abnormal Authorities. Bridge means any structure designed to carry vehicular traffic and which spans a gap of more than 6 meters. 

Definition of a Dolly:

1. A trailer with one or more axles designed or adopted generally or specifically for supporting the rear end of a self-supporting load.
2. A converter Dolly, which is a semi-trailer with one or more axles equipped with a fifth wheel, a drawbar and other parts necessary to convert a semi-trailer in to a trailer.
3. An adopter Dolly, which is a semi-trailer with one or more axles equipped with a kingpin, a fifth wheel and other parts necessary for attaching it to the rear end of a truck-tractor between a truck-tractor and semi-trailer.

Drawbar is the trailer that is attached to a drawing vehicle by a drawbar. Escort is the person in a separate vehicle accompanying an abnormal load/vehicle for the purpose of assisting other road users and giving timely warning of the presence of a abnormal load/vehicle. These are divided in two categories namely:

1. Self-Escort – Is provided by the carrier of the abnormal freight vehicle and has no authority over other road users.
2. Accredited –Escort – This is an escort provided by the traffic department or other accredited organizations such as TRAC for example, they have authority over other road users.

Indivisible load means a load which cannot be divided without disproportionate effort or risk damage. A payload in relation to an axle refers to the mass of the goods being carried by the axle and includes any special equipment required for securing a particular load. Abnormal vehicles needs to be registered by means of submitting it to the Provincial Authorities and they have to accept it as being suitable for the conveyance of abnormal loads. Description of warning devices and loads:

1. Red flags
2. Abnormal vehicle warning board
3. Escort vehicle warning board
4. Amber flashing lights
5. Marker lamps
6. Retro-reflectors
7. Speed restriction board

Movement restrictions:

Abnormal vehicles shall not be allowed to obstruct or endanger any other traffic and shall where necessary, be pulled off the road to allow other traffic to pass. The height of overload obstructions crossing the roadway shall be determined before the vehicle passes thereunder. While crossing any bridge, the abnormal vehicle shall travel at a uniform speed nor exceeding the speed specified on the permit. 


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