Road signs

Weight limit and Unsuitable for HGVs signs

There are some circumstances when weight restrictions need to be imposed on the movement of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). Weight restrictions fall into two categories, environmental and structural.

You can find more information about road markings and signs on the Department for Transport's website

Environmental weight restrictions

Weight restrictions can be imposed for environmental reason on routes identified as unsuitable for HGV’s and where there’s a better or equally convenient alternative route. 

When we use environmental weight restrictions

They’re useful in preventing heavy goods vehicles from using minor roads as inappropriate short-cuts between main routes. Weight restrictions can also be used to:

  • prevent damage to building and the road infrastructure (carriageway, footway, street furniture)
  • protect the character and environment of rural areas, villages and residential estates
  • manage congestion on our roads
  • reduce risks to vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and cyclists

Vehicles weight restrictions apply to

Environmental weight restrictions usually only apply to vehicles with a maximum gross weight of 7.5 tonnes or above, which is the maximum permitted weight of the vehicle when fully loaded.

Roads environmental weight restrictions can be applied to

They can be applied to individual routes or a defined area of roads that we’ve determined unsuitable for vehicles over a certain width or weight to use.

Applying an environmental weight restriction

When proposing a weight restriction we give careful consideration to the vehicles that will be re-routed.

It’s not always possible to impose a weight restriction. In some cases there may not be another realistic alternative route for HGV’s to use, and if we applied a restriction we may just be moving the problem onto other inappropriate roads.

Where alternative routes are available we give early warning of a weight restricted area and show the alternative route.

Exemptions to environmental weight restrictions

There are exemptions to weight restrictions for environment reasons such as:

  • vehicles making deliveries or collections at premises within the restriction
  • vehicles working on or near the roads in question
  • emergency service and military vehicles
  • buses, coaches and other public service vehicles

Structural weight restrictions

When a structural weight restriction is applied

Structural weight restrictions for vehicles of less than 7.5 tonnes can only be applied to a road for structural reasons. They’re applied on routes that have weak structures, such as bridges that can’t bear vehicles over 3 tonnes and can only safely accommodate a lower load.

Roads structural weight restrictions can be applied to

A structural restriction is applied to a short section of the road where the structure is located

Applying an environmental weight restriction

All major highway bridges in the Scottish Borders have been assessed to check that they’re capable of carrying full road loading. Bridges that failed this assessment have been strengthened to meet the latest requirements if a weight limit is not already in place.

Exemptions to environmental weight restrictions

Exemptions for access aren’t usually considered as the structure may fail if it’s overloaded.

Alternative solutions

As well as restricting the weight vehicles, an alternative solution may include advisory signing and working with the satellite navigation (satnav) companies.

Advisory signs

These indicate a road is unsuitable for HGV’s generally consist of white on blue signs with wording such as Unsuitable for Heavy Goods Vehicles, or a pictorial of an HGV with a red slash through the vehicle. The signs are advisory only and there’s no recourse to the law if an HGV tries to negotiate the road. 

A road may be unsuitable for HGV’s because of:

  • limited width due to sharp bend or walls either side of the road
  • steep gradients meaning a long or articulated vehicle may struggle to negotiate the hazard

We may consider ‘unsuitable’ advisory signs for roads in conservation areas which will be treated on an individual basis.

Satellite Navigation Systems

HGV drivers using satnav devices can encounter a number of issues.

HGV’s can’t negotiate some small streets or tight bends, and there are versions of satnav maps that have details of roads that aren’t suitable for HGV’s built in, but there’s no guarantee that every HGV driver is supplied with this technology.

HGV drivers may also encounter problems where their satnav had a map that was correct at the time of purchase but may not have been updated if a road or attributes change. 

We regularly let the major satnav companies know about changes and additions to our road network, including roads that aren’t suitable for HGV’s.  It’s important for HGV drivers to update their satnav maps on a regular basis to pick up these changes.

If you’d like to request a weight restrictions sign, or ask us to notify satnav companies of a road unsuitable for HGV’s, you can complete our online form.