One in every four vans examined in roadside tests by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) exceeded their maximum payload capacity.
Typically, drivers face a fixed penalty notice from £100 to £300 dependent on how overweight the vehicle is.
If the overload exceeds 30%, however, then the enforcement authorities will report the driver with a view to prosecution.
A fine of several hundred pounds is a likely outcome if the individual is found guilty.
The owner may be prosecuted for causing or permitting the offence, with penalties on conviction likely to be several thousand pounds for each axle overload, and for the gross overload too.
Peugeot UK demonstrated how this problem can be avoided through the Tradesmen Challenge, where competing tradesmen used the manufacturer‘s Overload Indicator technology to load vans as close to the legal load weight as possible.
Peugeot found 7% of van drivers were found to exceed their payload limit by 15% to 30%, placing themselves and other road users in significant danger, as overloading increases braking distances, compromises vehicle handling and accelerates wear and tear on safety critical components including suspension, brakes and tyres.
David Peel, managing director of Peugeot UK, said: “Road safety is a priority at Peugeot, and innovative features like the Overload Indicator fitted to our award-winning Partner van improves safety for all road uses – not just van drivers.
"It’s always great to put our technologies to the test and this Tradesmen Challenge was about having a bit of fun with the technology, while showcasing how easy it is to overload a van. This is both illegal and a big safety concern so this feature is hugely important.”
Since 2015, the DVSA has weighed more than 44,000 vans in roadside tests, with 23% found to be overloaded.
Peugeot’s Overload Indicator has been developed to ensure drivers avoid overloading their vans. The two-stage system is available on the Partner and warns drivers when they are within 10% of the maximum gross vehicle weight, and providing a second alert if they exceed the vehicle’s limit.
The alerts flash up at the rear of the van and on the i-Cockpit display to ensure drivers have maximum visibility when both loading the van and when they are about to set off.
In the Tradesman Challenge, the electricians came out on top, getting closest to the 983kg payload of the Peugeot Partner GRIP BlueHDi 100 S&S 5-speed manual used in the challenge, by packing 917kg of goods inside – including the three-strong team.