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Projecting loads

Drivers of cars, utilities and trucks that are transporting loads that project beyond the outer edge(s) of their vehicle or trailer must obey the laws governing the safe moving of these loads. These laws have been developed to protect all road users.

This information explains the requirements for transporting projecting loads and should help you ensure you carry these loads safely and legally.

If you carry building materials in your ute, wide loads on your truck, furniture in your trailer or use the family sedan to move large, unusual or projecting loads, you must know and obey the laws that set out how to transport them safely. These laws have been developed to protect all road users.

When carrying a load on a vehicle, you must consider:

Total dimensions

You must ensure you will not exceed legal limits of the total length, height, width and rear overhang of your vehicle or trailer. Your load is taken into account when working out these total dimensions.

That means:

Dimensions of vehicle or trailer + dimensions of projecting load = total dimensions.

Total dimension limits are worked out to help you safely clear overhead bridges, power lines and other roadside objects such as signs. They also ensure you can turn safely while staying in 1 lane. The following diagrams illustrate the permitted total dimension limits.

Remember: If your vehicle or trailer is built to the maximum dimensions, you cannot carry any projecting load. Keep it safe has more information about carrying excess dimension indivisible loads.

All vehicles

Diagram of a truck, utility and trailer indicating the vehicle width measures from the outside edge of the tyres when looking at the vehicle front on or from the rear

Total width ‘A’: No more than 2.5m
Total height ‘G’: No more than 4.3m
Distance load can project from side ‘PS’: No more than 150mm

Rigid vehicles

Diagram showing rigid vehicles dimensions

Total width and height: See limits under ‘All vehicles’
Total length ‘L’: No more than 12.5m
Rear overhang 'R': No more than 3.7m or no more than 60% of 'W', whichever is less
Distance load can project from front ‘PH’: No more than 1.2m in front of headlights
Distance load can project from rear ‘PR’: No more than 1.2m without a flag

Rigid vehicles hauling 1 trailer

Diagram showing the dimensions of rigid vehciles hauling one trailer including pig trailer and dog trailer

Total width and height: See limits under ‘All vehicles’
Total length ‘Y’: No more than 19m
Distance load can project at rear ‘R’
- For a pig trailer
: No more than 3.7m or no more than ‘P’,whichever is less
- For a dog trailer: No more than 3.7m or no more than 60% of W, whichever is less
Distance load can project at rear ‘PR’: No more than 1.2m without a flag

Prime mover semi-trailer combination

Prime mover

Total width and height: See limits under ‘All vehicles’
Total length ‘Y’: No more than 19m
Length ‘K’: No more than 12.3m
Rear overhang ‘R’: No more than 3.7m or no more than 60% of ‘E’, whichever is less
Distance load can project at rear ‘PR’: No more than 1.2m without a flag

Safety requirements

Loads projecting from the back of a vehicle or trailer

Clearly visible loads that project up to 1.2m from the back of your vehicle or trailer do not need a warning device. Any load that projects more than 1.2m from the back of your vehicle or trailer must display a warning device.

Warning devices

Warning devices must meet the following requirements.

During the day

You must display a brightly coloured red and yellow, or yellow flag at least 450mm by 450mm is fixed to the extreme back of the load.

At night

You must display a red warning light that is visible from at least 200m away, OR at least 2 red reflectors capable of reflecting from the headlights of a following vehicle.

At all times

All warning devices must be:

  • displayed at the very end of your load; and
  • clearly visible to other people.

Rear projection limits

Rear projection—small

Rear projection up to 1.2m does not need a warning device.

Rear projection—large
Rear projection more than 1.2m does need a warning device

Remember: Many vehicles and trailers already have the maximum permitted rear overhang, even without projecting a load. Check the total dimensions permitted. Do not carry a load projecting from the rear if it will cause you to exceed these dimensions.

Loads projecting from the front of a vehicle

A load must not project more than 1.2 m in front of a vehicle’s headlights.

Diagram showing that the load can not project more than 1.2m from the front of the vehicle.

Loads projecting from the side of a vehicle

A load must not project more than 150mm beyond either side of a vehicle or trailer.

When measuring how far a load projects from the side of a vehicle or trailer, measure from the edge of the vehicle or trailer body – not from rear vision mirrors, lights or reflectors. For trailers with mudguards, measure from the outer edge of the mudguard.

Loads projecting from the side of a vehicle

Loads projecting from the side of a vehicle

Loads projecting from the side of a vehicle

Projecting loads that are hard to see

If your projecting load is not easy for others to see, it must display a warning device regardless of how far it projects. See ‘Warning Devices’ for further information.

Should you carry the load?

Will the load create a hazard for other road users?

An object projecting from the front, rear or side of your vehicle can distract others, collide with vehicles or injure pedestrians. Make sure you are within legal limits, even for short trips (e.g. from hardware store to building site or home).

Will the load create a hazard for you?

Very heavy or high loads may affect your ability to steer and brake safely. A badly placed load may interfere with your view of the road. All increase the risk of a crash.

Will the load endanger your passengers?

Carrying a load projecting from the interior of a passenger vehicle can be dangerous. Passengers should not be responsible for keeping a load in place. You must be confident that the load is stable and will not harm passengers when you stop, accelerate or turn.

Will the load endanger your vehicle?

Overloading or incorrectly loading your vehicle puts extra stress on the engine, suspension and brakes. Passenger vehicles are generally not designed to carry large or heavy loads. Badly packed loads can also damage interior fittings or exterior paintwork.

Will the load be safe?

It's easy to damage valuable purchases by loading them badly – even on a short trip. Professional transporters have the correct materials to secure and protect your goods.

If in doubt, don't carry the load. Consider hiring a vehicle specifically designed to move loads, or paying for professional delivery. It could be much cheaper than the consequences of a crash, injury, vehicle repairs or load damage.

KEEP IT SAFE – no matter what!

The most important principle when carrying a projecting load is that the load must be safe. By law, a load cannot project in a way that is dangerous to people, property or traffic, or that makes a vehicle unstable. It may not be enough to check total dimensions or fit a warning device. If your load projects dangerously, it is still illegal.

Diagram showing the incorrect and correct way to carry a load

Restrain your load

All loads must be securely restrained.

What if your load’s too big?

If you check and find the total dimensions of your vehicle or trailer plus load are illegal or unsafe:

To operate under the guideline a vehicle must have a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of more than 4.5t or be in a combination that includes a vehicle with a GVM of more than 4.5t.

Last updated
20 September 2016