UK drivers could face £300 fine for taking suitcases on holiday

-Credit: (Image: Getty)
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Holidaymakers are being cautioned that they could face fines of £300 for a simple mistake when loading their luggage into their cars.

Whether you're planning a drive to France, heading to the airport for a trip further afield, or opting for a 'staycation' within the UK, motorists are being advised not to breach a DVSA luggage rule.

It's a familiar scene when embarking on a holiday: cars packed to the brim with suitcases, clothes, food, drinks and an array of other items, making it appear as though you're leaving for a month, reports the Express.

READ MORE Countryfile star Adam Henson shares bittersweet 'sad passing' update

However, experts at Howden Insurance are alerting drivers that they could be hit with a £300 fine and receive three points on their licence if they overload their vehicle.

What is the penalty for overloading my vehicle?

According to the DVSA's guidance on roadside checks, paragraph '3.3 Excess weight offences' indicates that drivers can face a fixed penalty of £300 if their vehicle is found to be overloaded by 15% or more. Overloading by 0-10% can result in a £100 penalty, while overloading by 10-15% can lead to a £200 fine.

How do I calculate my vehicle's payload weight?

DVSA data shows that 34.9% (53/152) of car weight checks conducted between April 2020 and December 2023 resulted in prohibitions due to overloading. Therefore, it's crucial to ensure your vehicle isn't exceeding its payload weight before setting off on your journey.

The payload weight refers to the maximum amount of additional weight that you can add to your car before it is deemed unsafe. This includes the weight of the driver, any passengers, and luggage that will be loaded into the vehicle.

Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) kerb weight = payload weight.

The GVWR refers to the maximum weight of the car and its contents, while the kerb weight refers to the weight of the car if it was empty and carrying a full tank of fuel.

The main figure to focus on is the payload weight. This should be available in your vehicle driver manual and indicates how much additional weight you can add to your vehicle.

The maximum payload weight will vary depending on the size of your car. For smaller cars, such as the Kia Picanto, Fiat 500, and Volkswagen Polo, the maximum payload weight can be between 385kg and 482kg.

Assuming you have four adult passengers, each with one suitcase and a piece of hand luggage, it becomes quite easy to exceed a 400kg payload.

If you are concerned that you are going to surpass your vehicle's maximum payload it makes sense to weigh your luggage and your passengers before the journey. If you know the combined weight of everything you are packing into the car, you can be confident that you aren't at risk of overloading.

Load the heaviest items in first.

Begin by placing the heaviest pieces of luggage at the bottom of the boot. This lowers the vehicle's centre of gravity, making it easier to handle.

Smaller hand luggage items can be stowed under the rear passenger footwells. This prevents overloading the boot above the back seat level, which could obstruct the driver's rear view.

Secure your luggage

If you're worried about luggage shifting during travel, consider getting a non-slip mat for the boot or bungee cords to secure it.

An unused backseat can also serve as a storage spot for a piece of luggage. Use the available seatbelt to keep it stable and prevent it from moving during transit.

Think about using vacuum sealed bags

If you're travelling with a lot of clothes, vacuum sealed bags might be a good idea. While this won't affect the total weight of the luggage, it can shrink the item's overall size by up to 75%, allowing you to fit more into the boot without blocking the driver's view.

Increase your tyre pressure

To ensure your vehicle is up to the task of carrying additional passengers and their luggage, it's wise to inflate your tyres to a higher pressure than usual. The correct PSI for this added weight can be found in your vehicle handbook or sometimes displayed inside your fuel door.

Before setting off on your journey, remember to check and adjust your tyre pressure while they're cold to get the most accurate reading. Neglecting this could lead to compromised braking distance, steering issues, and increased fuel consumption.

A spokesperson for Howden Insurance highlighted the importance of this advice, stating: "With nearly three-quarters of Brits intending to go on a holiday within the UK this year, many will be planning to drive to the airport at the start of their trip."

They also warned about the risks of overpacking, which is common among holiday-goers, especially those with children: "It is easy to overpack when planning a holiday, especially if you have children. Rules around overpacking your car are often overlooked but if you're not careful it could be the difference between a carefree start to the holiday and fines of up to £300."