Transporting vehicle loads safely – guidance on the rules

21 July 2022

A tractor towing a trailer with spring wheat harvest along a narrow road

Our farm safety experts provide guidance on how the Department for Transport's Code of Practice for vehicle load safety applies to agricultural vehicles and trailers, and where to go for additional information.

The DfT (Department for Transport) published its Code of Practice for the Safety of Loads on Vehicles to help vehicle operators and drivers make sure that loads are secure and transported safely.

Even small items can kill or seriously injure other road users and pedestrians if they come off vehicles at speed. Grain and grass shed onto the road are particular hazards for motorcycle riders.

Agricultural vehicles are subject to the same rules as all other commercial traffic. There are no exemptions from the rules for agricultural vehicles.


Drivers and operators must make sure that:

  • Anything transported in a vehicle or trailer is secured so that there is no risk of danger or nuisance to other road users.
  • Body sides of vehicles are high enough not only to completely contain the material being transported but also of such a height that the likelihood of any part of the load falling or being blown onto the road as a result of movement is reduced.
  • The load compartment is covered to control the risk of part of the load falling or being blown from the top of the vehicle.
  • Bales must be strapped across the front in an X shape and also secured from rave to rave.
  • Agricultural trailers display a number plate.
  • All vehicles and trailers are roadworthy with fully functioning effective braking systems and lights.


If loads are not secured adequately, fines and points may be awarded. Drivers and employers are at risk as the law applies to drivers and anyone who causes or permits the use of vehicles deemed to be unsafe.

The DVSA has advised that roadside examiners will take a pragmatic approach, but action will be taken if loads are found to be unsafe.

Commercial Vehicle Awareness Week

Many police forces around the country are supporting the NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council)'s Commercial Vehicle Awareness Week, which began on 18 July 2022.

Police forces are working with the DVSA around the country to educate drivers about the dangers that unsafe loads can cause and the need to make sure vehicles are well maintained and fit for the road every time they are used.

The NFU's team in East Anglia recently held a webinar with Norfolk and Suffolk police where valuable information on road traffic enforcement, applicable across Great Britain, was discussed.

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