Increasingly, it appears these weight-restricting signs are appearing on our roads, especially in metropolitan areas where they are usually put in place by local government authorities.
In NSW the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) look after major roads and local government authorities lesser local roads within its area.
Many will be familiar with these signs restricting vehicles over 3,000kg (usually marked 3-ton) from travelling along a particular road or street. Usually the sign has a “truck” picture on it; similar to the one in the photograph possibly leading drivers to form an opinion it does not refer to standard SUV style vehicles.
And I must note that frequently these signs are not obvious, hidden behind foliage on a tree, which perhaps is another problem altogether when it comes to road signs…!
But what is the implication of these weight-restricted roads for today’s modern four-wheel drive vehicles?
A quick look at many of the popular four-wheel drive vehicles on the market today, including the Nissan Patrol and the popular Toyota 78 and 79 Series show that they all have a standard GVM in excess of 3,000kg. Put a couple of adults and some luggage in any of these vehicles along with a full tank of fuel and they will most likely be weighing in excess of 3,000kg.
And it is worth noting many weight-restricted roads have a “GVM Limit” of 3 ton, so the popular range of four-wheel drive vehicles I’ve noted are impacted, regardless of what they weigh in at on the road.
We have a Toyota 79 Series with a GVM of 3,780kg (standard is 3,300kg) and it usually weighs in at around 3,500kg in its touring configuration.
But, 3-ton means 3-ton even if it doesn’t look like a truck and more like a passenger vehicle.
Possibly many may be of the view that the sign does not refer to their vehicle and be travelling on them unaware of the implications it might have, especially in the case of an accident.
Perhaps others simply ignore the directive.
If you have comprehensive insurance on your vehicle, and who doesn’t these days, you will find that one of the first things it will say in the PDS is that you are “covered anywhere you are legally entitled to be”.
And it pays to reflect on that statement – anywhere you are legally entitled to be…
The implication for those with vehicles weighing over 3-ton or with a GVM in excess of 3-ton is that travelling on a weight restricted road might void your ability to make an insurance claim if it relates to an accident on that weight restricted road.
I am insured with the popular four-wheel drive specialist underwriter, Club 4×4, and I have confirmed with them that my interpretation is correct – if you are not legally entitled to travel on a road due to it being weight restricted you will be in breach of the terms and conditions of the policy.
Now maybe that interpretation is the default position from the insurer in the first instance, but the implication is clear, a claim might be denied…
And given underwriting standards and interpretations of terms and conditions are fairly standard across the automotive insurance companies you will find they’ll all mostly likely arrive at the same conclusion.
Now there might be a couple of caveats on that view depending on the specific circumstances, but it is usually with great certainty that whenever “grey area meets legal implications” it will cost you money to prosecute your case.
Local government authorities when restricting roads and streets to weight are required to provide an alternative for vehicles in excess of the weight restriction. I live in an area of Sydney that has numerous 3-ton weight-restricted roads and there are alternatives.
But it is a minefield of sorts, especially if travelling in areas you are less familiar with. And a review of a number of GPS mapping systems highlights that none appear to give the user an option to avoid weight-restricted roads, at least not in the systems usually associated with SUV type vehicles.
As with most things in life, it is never a problem, until it becomes a problem.
It is unlikely you will be booked by the local government authority enforcement officers or police for travelling along a weight-restricted road in your four-wheel drive vehicle if the tare weight is under 3-ton. After all, it would need to be weighed to determine if it is under or over. But if you are involved in an accident where there is an injury, or worse, the vehicle may be put over the scales and you may find you will face a charge of negligence if over 3-ton, depending on the circumstances, which is not a traffic violation but a criminal charge.
The question needs to be asked is why are there an increasing number of weight-restricted roads being introduced, maybe it is time for the four-wheel drive lobby groups to become active in this regard.
Perhaps many are blissfully unaware of the implications of weight-restricted roads, especially with regard to insurance and personal liability – but 3-ton, is 3-ton, regardless of the vehicle you are driving, it doesn’t apply to just trucks, so keep an eye out for those weight-restricted roads….
We have always loved the colours of the Australian Outback, the ochre red earth touching a deep blue sky on a faraway horizon; and the fabulous coastline of our sunburnt country, where a golden sandy beach is washed over by a turquoise blue sea; and the characters you meet in a quiet country pub, where it is nothing flash, but you are enriched by the encounter…
A couple of years ago we decided that after many years of paid and unpaid work that it was time for us to “graduate from work” and re-enter “the classroom of life” where an education is guaranteed and all that is needed is an open mind.
Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!
Cheers, Baz & Janet-Planet