HSfB Blog

Essential Things You Should Know about Driving Fork Lifts on Public Roads

 

FLT250x232Over my career I have seen many a debate on the common belief that fork lift trucks (FLTs) and mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs) can travel between premises without being taxed, insured, registered, fitted with lights, number plates, reflectors etc.   Some say FLTs can load / unload vehicles outside a premises on the public road, some say they have contacted the police, local councils, FLT trainers who all say it's OK to do so.

I have never been comfortable with the lack of consistency with some of the advice and their mixed messages, so I decided to do a bit of digging on the subject to satisfy myself.   I've written this article to hopefully help clear things up for you too.  

One important point I'd like to get across is that failure to follow these, and other appropriate guidelines, could invalidate company insurance, result in penalty points for the driver of the vehicle and / or result in expensive and damaging police or civil actions.

 

Here is what I have discovered...

 

 

Advice from the Fork Lift Truck Association – Technical Bulletin 03, amended July 2010

Fork Lift Truck Classifications, Excise Duty, Registration

Case law has defined a public road to be 'where it is natural to suppose that the public may be found, such as car parks, laybys, loading bays, private roads through trading or industrial estates...'

If a fork lift truck (FLT) is to travel more than 1,000 yards on a public road it must comply with the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986. This involves several legal requirements and may involve significant modifications to a truck. A FLT in excess of 3,500 Kgs gvw would need to be licensed in the HGV taxation class. A FLT 3,500 Kgs gvw or less would need to be licensed in the Private/Light Goods taxation class. To be licensed in this class its Type Approval position must be established.

If a FLT is to travel less than 1,000 yards on a public road, between sites (including crossing public highways) or for unloading vehicles, there is special dispensation. In most circumstances it can be driven with little modification; however, it must be registered and insured.

 

Fork Lift Truck Excise Duty

All registration and licensing matters are governed by the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act (VERA) 1994. VERA classes a FLT as a Works Truck.

A Works Truck is defined as a goods vehicle (i.e. a vehicle constructed or adapted for use and used for the conveyance of goods or burden of any description) which is designed for use in private premises and used on public roads only for:

  • Carrying goods between private premises and a vehicle on the road in the immediate vicinity; or
  • Passing between one part and another or to other private premises in the immediate vicinity; or
  • In connection with road works at or in the immediate vicinity of the site of such works

Immediate vicinity – as a guide, it has been ruled that a distance of over 1,000 yards is not within the immediate vicinity.

 

Insurance

The minimum insurance requirement is Third Party Liability Insurance.

 

Lighting

Lighting of vehicles used on public roads is governed by The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 (RVLR), as amended.

If a FLT is only used on the public road between sunrise and sunset and is NOT fitted with any front or rear position lamp, then under RVLR, the vehicle is exempt from having to be fitted with any lamp or reflector.

If the FLT will be used on the public road during the hours of darkness, the following will apply:

 

Maximum Speed  Types of Lamp Required 

Any Speed

Front position lamp
Rear position lamp
Rear retro-reflector
Warning beacon (not mandatory, but best practice)
Greater than 15 mph  Front position lamp
Rear position lamp
Rear retro-reflector
Dipped beam headlamp
Direction indicator
Hazard warning signal device
Greater than 25 mph Front position lamp
Rear position lamp
Rear retro-reflector
Dipped beam headlamp
Main beam headlamp
Direction indicator
Hazard warning signal device
Rear fog lamp
Stop lamp
Greater than 40 mph Front position lamp
Rear position lamp
Rear retro-reflector
Dipped beam headlamp
Main beam headlamp
Direction indicator
Hazard warning signal device
Rear fog lamp
Stop lamp
Dim-dip device or running lamp (unless the vehicle
conforms to EU requirements)

 

Number Plates

Number plates must be displayed whilst the vehicle is in use on the public road. Plates are required on the rear of the vehicle or alternatively on either side.

 

Drivers/Operators

When a FLT is driven on the public road, the minimum ages that apply are:

 

Type of Fork Lift Truck  Age 
Up to 3.5 tonnes gvw 17 
Between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes gvw 18 
Over 7.5 tonnes gvw 21 

 

When classed as a Works Truck, a Category B licence is required to drive a FLT on the public road. An HGV licence is not required, regardless of the capacity.

Provisional licence holders may drive FLTs on the public road, but only if the trucks are constructed to carry more than one person. The following will apply:

  • A qualified driver must accompany the provisional licence holder
  • The provisional licence held must cover the vehicle to be driven
  • Learner plates must be prominently displayed on the front and the rear of the truck
  • The driver must be properly trained to operate a FLT in accordance with current health and safety regulations

 

Additional Requirements

When travelling unladen:

  • Fork arms should be removed, folded back, or fitted with marker plates
  • Similar action should be taken with any fitted attachments
  • Marker plates if used must be suitable illuminated between sunset and sunrise

When travelling laden:

  • No part of the load should project more than 2 metres
  • Loads must be arranged to provide clear forward vision

Whether travelling laden or unladen, reverse gear must not be used for prolonged periods.

 

Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs)

Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs) are NOT classed as Works Trucks when being used on a public road. There is therefore no dispensation. MEWPs weighing up to 3,500kg should be licensed in the Private Light Goods (PLG) tax class. Those weighing more than 3,500kg should be licensed in the Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) tax class.

 

Advice received from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)

"Dear Mr Johnston

Thank you for your email received on 29/5/13. Your email reference number is ******.

A forklift truck can be classed as a "works truck" and licensed in the Special Vehicle taxation class if it complies with the following criteria:

    1. Designed for use in private premises, and
    2. Used on public roads only:
    3. For carrying goods between private premises and a vehicle on the road in the immediate vicinity,Taxdisc200x133
    4. In passing from one part of private premises to another or between private premises and other premises in the immediate vicinity, or
    5. In connection with road works at or in, the immediate vicinity* of the site of the works.

 

If the above can be met, the following documentation will be required for registration: -

    • V55/ 4 or V55/5
    • Insurance Certificate
    • Registration Fee
    • Proof of age (if unavailable Q-mark will be allocated)
    • Fee for tax
    • I.D
    • "Works Trucks" are exempt from Type Approval
    • "Works Trucks" are exempt from testing"

 

Operational Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Risks to the public from un/loading vehicles on the highway - http://www.hse.gov.uk/foi/internalops/ocs/700-799/789_5.htm

"6 The loading operation typically involves the use of a lift truck. LTs are allowed journeys on the road of up to 1000 yards without having to meet the requirements of the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations but would be expected to be registered and insured, the driver should normally have a full driving licence and as a minimum LTs need front and rear lights, rear reflector, indicators and hazard warning devices. For further details users should be referred to the bulletin published by the Fork Lift Truck Association (see references below) or the local police."

 

Legal obligations of drivers and riders from Gov.uk

Contained within the Gov.uk advice web site - https://www.gov.uk/legal-obligations-drivers-riders

"Vehicle requirements

The vehicle must:

  • be registered with DVLA
  • have a valid vehicle tax disc
  • have a current MOT certificate (if required)

You must also have a minimum of 3rd party insurance which covers you using the vehicle."

Penalties are displayed on the Gov.uk web site - https://www.gov.uk/highway-code-penalties/penalty-table

 

Rules for drivers and motorcyclists

FLTtick250x219"Insurance. To use a motor vehicle on the road, you MUST have a valid insurance policy. This MUST at least cover you for injury or damage to a third party while using that motor vehicle. Before driving any motor vehicle, make sure that it has this cover for your use or that your own insurance provides adequate cover. You MUST NOT drive a motor vehicle without insurance. Also, be aware that even if a road traffic incident is not your fault, you may still be held liable by insurance companies. Law RTA 1988 sect 143"

 

Advice received from the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)

Dear John

Thank you for your enquiry regarding whether lift trucks and mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPS) used on the public highway need to be registered, taxed, insured etc.

The Department for Transport has produced an information sheet concerning work trucks, and this contains the following useful information:

"For a vehicle to be used on the public roads in Great Britain it must comply with insurance, licensing (tax) and registration requirements. It must also comply with applicable construction regulations. Primarily these are the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (C&U), as amended, and the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989, as amended. These requirements apply even in cases where the road use is minimal (for example crossing the public road from one private premises to another)."

This document can be viewed in full and freely downloaded from Department for Transport Information Sheet - WORKS TRUCKS: A brief guide

The HSE has produced an operational circular concerning the risks to the public from loading and unloading vehicles on the public highway, and this contains the following useful information:

"Lift trucks are allowed journeys on the road of up to 1000 yards without having to meet the requirements of the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations but would be expected to be registered and insured, the driver should normally have a full driving licence and as a minimum lift trucks need front and rear lights, rear reflector, indicators and hazard warning devices."

This document can be viewed in full and freely downloaded from http://www.hse.gov.uk/foi/internalops/ocs/700-799/789_5.htm

The Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) has produced a fact sheet concerning the use of a lift truck on a public road, and this contains the following useful information:

"If, on the task to be performed, the Fork Lift Truck will travel more than 1000 yards, then it must comply with Construction and Use Regulations or have Type Approval. This involves all sorts of legal requirements and probable quite major modifications to the truck and should not be undertaken lightly. Compliance may become quite complex.

However, if, on the task to be performed, the Fork Lift Truck will travel less than 1000 yards, on public roads, between sites or for unloading vehicles, then there is special dispensation from compliance with the Construction and Use Regulations. In most circumstances it can be driven with little modification; but it must be registered and insured. Compliance may be relatively simple but understanding all the rules is not straightforward. The rules cover items such as excise duty, lighting, number plates, operator requirements and even what is a public road."

This document can be viewed in full and freely downloaded from http://www.forktruck.org.uk/web_images/manuals/factsheets/FS08.pdf"

 

In Summary

If your fork lift trucks are being driven on a public road, even short distances, the following will likely apply:

  • They must be registered and insured
  • They must be taxed - use the Vehicle Certification Agency's vehicle tax calculation tool to calculate what you will need to pay - https://www.gov.uk/calculate-vehicle-tax-rates.  When using the tool, select the following options for a fork lift truck: 
    • Special Vehicles
    • Works trucks
  • Specific lighting, markings, reflectors etc. may be required to be fitted
  • Drivers must hold the appropriate licence for their age

Remember that under road traffic laws, driving a fork lift truck on a public road without tax, insurance and / or a valid licence puts the driver at risk of being reported by the Police.

Vehicles may also be seized if driven illegally. 

 

I hope this article helps and if it does, please spread the word and share the article for others to benefit.


John Johnston
Health and Safety for Beginners