Don’t get stung by this obscure $263 road rule
HOW many times have you packed your car to the rafters before setting off on a road trip with the family?
Probably too many times to mention - but it turns out you may have unwittingly broken a little-known traffic law in the process.
Because according to Transport for NSW, it's actually a serious offence to overload a vehicle and exceed the maximum weight limit set by the manufacturer.
A Transport for NSW spokeswoman told news.com.au the obscure rule was in place for safety reasons as well as to prevent wear-and-tear on our roads.
"Overloading a vehicle, by exceeding the maximum weight set by the manufacturer, increases risk by affecting the vehicle's stability and ability to brake safely," the spokeswoman said.
"It also significantly increases wear on the road pavement, which can cause potholes, cracking or damage to bridges or road culverts."
She said the Road Transport (General) Regulation set the rules for the weight limits of "light vehicles" such as cars, which means that "a person must not drive a vehicle if it is loaded in a manner that prevents the driver from viewing traffic or if the weight or dimensions of the load prevents the driver from safely driving or controlling the vehicle."
The penalty for breaking that rule is a hefty $263 fine.
The spokeswoman also said a person "must not drive a vehicle if the vehicle is carrying a load that is placed in a way that causes the vehicle to be unstable" - or risk a $448 fine and the loss of three demerit points.
She said loading requirements for heavy vehicles were governed by the National Heavy Vehicle law, which determined the limit of the total mass of the vehicle as well as the mass carried on a particular axle, with breaches attracting "significant penalties".
NRMA spokeswoman Rebecca Page urged motorists to remember the rules when loading up their cars.
"Common sense plays a big role in how to most safely pack your car. At the NRMA we encourage members to make sure they're not placing anything in the vehicle that can obscure their view: fluffy dice, oversized luggage or even an incorrectly placed GPS could all potentially create new blind spots," she said.
"When packing a vehicle make sure everything is secured - flying objects can be very dangerous if you need to break suddenly, and that includes pets.
"There are various safety measures motorists can consider if they know they're going to be packing a lot into the car. We encourage members to use cargo barriers where suitable and always make sure you don't overpack a vehicle because it can affect the handling of the vehicle as well as create distractions for the driver."
Ms Page said there were also "heavy penalties" for not correctly covering loads.
"It can be very dangerous if items aren't secured not just inside but outside the vehicle as well," she said.
According to comparison site Canstar Blue, the most popular cars in Australia today include the Toyota Hilux, Toyota Corolla, Ford Ranger, Mazda 3 and Toyota Land Cruiser.
Information about your car's weight limits can be found within the Owner's Manual, while more details can also be found at your local dealership or by visiting a public weighbridge.