The Rules Around Driving With Bulky Items

Vans are the packhorses of the modern day, but it’s not practical for every household in the UK to own one, nor is it affordable or logical to hire one when you’ve simply got to move something from A to B that’s just too big to fit snugly in your car. So, what can you do if home delivery is out of the question and you simply must get your stuff back home using your own car? Here’s everything you need to know about driving with bulky items in your car.

If your car is itself nothing more than a bulky heap of junk sitting outside your home, sell it with Scrap Car Comparison and we’ll get you the best price that the market can offer. Our nationwide network of scrap and salvage specialists spans 99% of the country so wherever you are, we’ll have an Authorised Treatment Facility on our books that’s ready and willing to purchase your car. Better still, they’ll even come to you and pick it up for free! There are no hidden fees with us, including when it comes to collection, which won’t set you back a single penny! Call 03333 44 99 50 or use our scrap car price calculator to get a quote and find out just how much your old, unwanted or broken car could be worth now!

How Far Can Something Overhang A Car?

Before you bring out the measuring tape, we need to explain that the lengths to which something can overhang your car differ depending on which part of the vehicle it’s protruding from. Sounds confusing? Allow us to break it down:

Objects overhanging rearwards

  • Under 1 metre: No measures needed
  • 1-2 metres: The end of the item must be clearly marked with a bright or otherwise high-visibility marker
  • 2-3.05 metres: A marker board (a notice reading “LONG VEHICLE” or something similar) must be present on the vehicle

If you’re transporting anything longer than 3.05 metres, you must notify the police two days prior to the journey and have an escort vehicle accompany you

Objects overhanging forwards

  • Under 1 metre: No measures needed
  • 1-2 metres: No measures needed
  • 2-3.05 metres: An escort vehicle must be present to accompany you

Just like with rear-facing protrusions, if your item is over 3.05 metres, you’ll need to notify the police two days before the journey and include an escort vehicle.

Objects overhanging sideways

The rules over items hanging over the edges of your car are a little bit more rigid, with police needing notification two days before your journey if there’s going to be more than 305mm of lateral projection on either side of the vehicle. You’ll also need marker boards on the front and rear of your vehicle, with extra lights in operation if you’re driving in times of poor visibility.

If your load protrudes more than 3.5 metres, you’ll need all of the above, plus an escort vehicle to keep other road users out of the way.

How Do You Transport Long Items In A Car?

If you’ve spent enough time on the road as a driver or passenger, you’ve probably seen the occasional vehicle with something long sticking out of their boot. While this is allowed, it must be done safely, with all items in the rear (including the lengthy one) securely fastened so that they won’t fall out and onto the road. The boot itself should also be secured to its latch or some other low-down part of the car, holding it in place so that it doesn’t fly open as wide as it possibly can unnecessarily.

Can You Drive With Something On Your Roof?

The best way of transporting long or large items is to do so not in the car, but rather on top of it. Naturally, a roof rack is ideal for this job – after all, it’s the one thing it’s designed for. These will come with instructions and any other required accessories to safely fasten your items on them. If you don’t have a roof rack, you’ll still need to make sure everything is secured in place and will not move. Bungee-cord type restraints can be used for this, with the most reliable course of action being to relay them through the windows of the car and up over the object in question.

Be aware that if your load is deemed to be unsafe or worse, falls off your car, you will be liable for any damage or injury caused and could face serious legal consequences.

Is It Legal To Strap A Mattress To The Roof Of A Car?

There are no legal rules that prevent you from strapping a mattress to the roof of a car, but you’ll need to consider each of the points mentioned in this post when you do so. It has to be safely secured, just like anything else, although this should be stressed due to the damage a flying mattress could cause if it was to come loose along your way.

It also must abide by the overhang rules mentioned above. A single or double mattress might be okay on most cars, but if you’re bringing home a king-size, you might need to take some measurements before you get behind the wheel.

Can You Drive With Your Boot Open?

It’s perfectly legal to drive with your boot open, but much like carrying a mattress above your head, it has to be done safely and within the rules of the law. First and foremost, your load and the boot itself must be secure and not liable to fall from the vehicle or flail around out of control. Furthermore, your car’s lights and number plate must all remain visible. If that’s not the case, then you are indeed breaking the law and could face the consequences in the form of a fine or even points on your licence.

Tips For Transporting Bulky Items

So, let’s round everything up – transporting large, bulky and abnormally shaped items is perfectly acceptable if it’s done properly. That means:

  • Not exceeding overhang limits
  • Securing everything tightly so that nothing falls from your car in transit
  • Ensuring that your number plate and lights all remain visible
  • Using a roof rack if possible

If your car can barely get itself down the road, let alone with something heavy lumped on top of it, then it might be time for something new. Scrap Car Comparison can help you sell your old, unwanted or even broken vehicles for the best prices that the market can offer, with free collection included as standard all across the UK. Give our sales team a call on 03333 44 99 50 or use our scrap car price calculator to find out how much you could make from your old car now! 

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