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Project SAbLE (Safer Abnormal Load Escorting)

Following consultation with members, the Heavy Transport Association initiated the first in a new programme of work that will look at various aspects of the movement of abnormal indivisible loads; analysing good practice from the UK and elsewhere in the world, to ensure that movement of these loads is performed as safely and efficiently as possible.

The first project in the programme is SAbLE (Safer Abnormal Load Escorting); the aim of which is “To improve the safety and operational efficiency of Abnormal Load movements through appropriate escorting practices.”

The SAbLE project aims to bring together a full range of stakeholders including: abnormal load hauliers, route surveyors, permit agents, consultants, abnormal load escorts, infrastructure owners/managers, equipment manufacturers and the police.

The project, led by international road safety consultancy The Transafe Network, will examine current practices in the risk assessment and escorting of abnormal loads, and identify future practices which have the potential to enhance the safety and efficiency of these movements.  This will include practices to improve safety for all road users, and the most efficient use of the road network.

SAbLE commenced in March 2021 with a period of research followed by engagement with a wide cross-section of stakeholders to develop a clear and concise understanding of the legal position as well as the current situation 'in practice' both in the UK and other countries.  A multiagency safety working party was subsequently established that is led and chaired by Transafe as independent brokers.  The working party includes a key stakeholders including representatives from HTA, DfT, Trunk Road Agencies, individual Police Forces; as well as those representing NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council).  NPCC are anticipated to conduct their own review of the 2010 ACPO Guidance on the Movement of Abnormal Indivisible Loads from the SAbLE project.

The initial phase of the SAbLE project was completed in November 2021 with a report summarising current practices and identifying issues including:-

  • Risk assessment processes deciding upon escort requirements (hauliers & police)
  • Training of police escorts
  • Training of private escorts
  • Escorting practices outside the UK

The Transafe Network identified a range of across-the-board issues that combine to create a need for action " overhaul the current practices to make them fit for purpose for ensuring the safe movement of Abnormal Loads".

Consequently, a summit meeting of the working party is planned for early 2022 to prioritise/progress:-

  • Common risk assessment approach to determine escort requirements
  • Operational practices
  • Training requirements
  • Road map for improvements

The Heavy Transport Association,
The White House, High Street,
Tattenhall, Chester, Cheshire CH3 9PX

t: +44 (0)1829 773 104