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Restraining loads

If you are driving a vehicle that is carrying a load, or towing a trailer that is carrying a load, you have to make sure that the load is restrained properly. Load restraint is not just about making sure that the load does not come off —it is also about making sure that the load does not shift in a way that makes the vehicle unstable or unsafe.

Under the Queensland load restraint requirements, any load carried on or in your vehicle or trailer must:

  • not be placed in a way that makes your vehicle unstable or unsafe
  • be secured so it won’t move in any way that makes your vehicle unstable or unsafe
  • be secured so it does not fall from your vehicle while driving—including driving consisting of emergency braking or turning suddenly
  • not project from your vehicle in a way that is likely to injure a person, obstruct the path of other drivers or pedestrians, or damage another vehicle or anything else
  • be restrained using an appropriate load restraint method.

If you don’t restrain a load properly you might cause an accident, injury or death if:

  • objects fall from your vehicle on to other traffic or pedestrians
  • other drivers swerve to dodge items that are falling or have fallen from your vehicle
  • loads that have spilled onto the road cause other vehicles to skid and lose control
  • unsecured loads crash into your vehicle cabin during emergency braking
  • loads that shifts and contributes to your car becoming unstable or unsafe.

Also, loads must not cover number plates, lights and reflectors. If a load projects more than 1.2m behind a motor vehicle or a trailer, or if the load projects in a way such that it would not be readily visible to a person following immediately behind a vehicle or trailer, a brightly coloured red, red and yellow, or yellow flag (measuring at least 450mm by 450mm) must be fixed to the extreme back of the load. At night, a red light or at least 2 red reflectors must be fixed to the extreme back of such a load.

The load restraint laws apply to all vehicles regardless of their gross vehicle mass. Driver’s consigners, loaders and receivers all have a responsibility to make sure that the load restraint requirements are met.

If you don’t secure your load properly you may get a fine or, for a serious breach, be prosecuted in court.

Examples and tips

Garden refuse in utes or trailers

Garden refuse will generally be light enough to be blown off a ute or trailer by a breeze during transport. As such, the refuse will need to be covered by a tarpaulin (secured so that it does not come off in transit) or netting. If the refuse is loaded above the sides of the ute or trailer, more restraint (straps, netting or rope) will be needed.

Furniture and white goods in utes and trailers

Tall items of furniture or white goods (such as fridges) should be restrained to head boards to ensure that they do not fall over as a result of braking, the vehicle negotiating a corner or the vehicle taking evasive action. All furniture (unless it does not extend above the sides of the ute or trailer and is tightly packed) should be tightly restrained using rope or webbing straps. The use of webbing straps to restrain such loads is much better than the use of ropes as, although a rope may feel tight, the amount of tension in it will be relatively low. Furniture should be tightly packed, and spaces between items of furniture in a load should be filled with dunnage or packing materials to ensure the load does not move and loosen the lashings.

Cardboard boxes

If boxes are tightly packed and are not loaded above the sides of a ute or trailer, then rope or webbing straps will not be needed to restrain the load. Otherwise, rope or webbing straps should be used. Top corner protector angles for boxes should also be considered to reduce possible crushing of the boxes.


Loose, smaller tools should not be transported unrestrained in the back of utes or trailers. They should be contained within tool boxes which are adequately restrained. Larger tools (e.g. garden tools like shovels) should be restrained by ropes, straps or a cargo net if they are not adequately contained by the body.

Transporting boats

As the Load Restraint Guide (referred to below) notes, a safety chain should be used in addition to the wire rope from the trailer’s winch to the bow of the boat and the boat should have a strap over the stern, attaching it to the trailer. If the boat is fitted with an outboard motor and its mounting to the stern is not designed to withstand bumps and other shocks encountered in road transport, it may be necessary to separately restrain the motor or remove it during transport.

Safe transportation of LP gas cylinders

Please visit the Queensland Government website for information on the safe transportation of gas cylinders.

Dogs in utes

Please visit the Queensland Government website for information on transporting dogs in utes


  • Similar items should be bundled together to form a more stable, single unit.
  • Webbing straps are more effective than ropes.
  • Nets and tarpaulins are generally an easy and effective way to restrain lighter items.
  • Avoid loading heavier items on top of lighter items.
  • Fill gaps between larger items with smaller items, dunnage or packing material.
  • Check the load and the tension of ropes and webbing shortly after commencing a journey as the load may settle and/or shift, causing restraints to loosen.
  • Check the load every time an item is removed or added to it.
  • Seats in vans and station wagons are generally not adequate for preventing loads (particularly heavy loads) from moving forward in emergency braking situations.  The use of cargo barriers is recommended.
  • Long items of steel, particularly pipes, can be slippery. Wooden dunnage or rubber matting can be used to prevent such items slipping and looping lashings around several of such items in a bundle will help prevent items sliding out.

Further information about appropriate load restraint methods

The National Transport Commission’s Load Restraint Guide outlines the best ways to restrain and cover different types of loads.

The guide gives information on how to restrain your load depending on what type of vehicle you drive and the size and weight of the load. If you use the methods for load restraint from the guide, your load will be:

  • placed so that your vehicle doesn’t become unstable
  • secured so that it is unlikely to fall from your vehicle.

While the load restraint methods shown in the guide are not the only way to restrain a load, they are examples of methods that have been shown to meet the load restraint performance standards.

If you wish to restrain your load by another method not included in the guide, we recommend that you refer to Part 2 of the Load Restraint Guide and consult with a suitably qualified engineer to ensure your method meets the performance standards.

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Last updated
20 September 2016