You’ll have seen forklifts for hire and know that they are used in a wide variety of industries, on different types of sites and for a multitude of tasks. If you are using a forklift to offload items on the side of a road or to move items from one side of the road to the other, you might wonder what the rules are in terms of driving a forklift on a public road, even if only for a few seconds at a time. Can you drive a forklift on the road legally? What are the rules? Put simply, unless you have the correct tax, insurance and registration to operate a forklift on a public road, you will be committing an offence to do so, if you are travelling over a certain distance, but let’s dig a bit deeper.
What do I need to operate a forklift on a public road?
If there is a plan in place to operate a forklift truck on a public road then you must ensure that the DVLA has the forklift registered, it must be taxed and insured for use on the road and it must have visible registration plates. These rules are those that are applied to all vehicles that are mechanically propelled and are used or kept on public roads. This is to ensure everything adheres to the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994.
On top of the requirements for the use of a forklift on the road, an operator must also have passed the relevant forklift operator course and be fully qualified to operate the vehicle in an efficient and safe manner. The operator must also have a full UK driving license. Depending on the weight of the forklift there will be different age restrictions to also be aware.
If you are to use a forklift on a public road you must ensure that it is fitted with the appropriate lighting for that purpose. For a forklift that will be travelling under 25mph on the road, it must also have an amber beacon that lights up. Even if you only plan to use a forklift on a public road for a very short distances, it is vital that you meet the above requirements. There is the following criteria to consider though, either way:
- If you are only travelling under 1000 yards the forklift does not have to be classified as a work truck and will only require standard licensing and registration details, depending on how it is propelled (this includes taxing it as an electric vehicle if it is an electric-powered forklift) and the weight. A weight exceeding 3500kg will be classed as an HGV, whilst anything under that weight will be classed as a light goods vehicle.
What are the requirements for longer travel distances?
For anything over 1000 yards the forklift does need to be fully licensed. If you are travelling under 1000 yards between different work sites on the road, to deliver goods for instance, it will be classed as a work truck and will be excused from Road Vehicles Regulations. It is important to understand the different regulations if you are working with plant hire companies to acquire forklifts for upcoming jobs, especially if there are multiple sites within a short distance from each other and public roads to travel on in between.