Moving home can be a stressful time for anybody and one of the most daunting and arduous tasks is moving furniture, particularly if you don’t own a van.
Another scenario could be when you’ve just suddenly found yourself in the IKEA car park with a trolley load of packages before realising you didn’t actually consider your car space.
It is not uncommon to see cars packed with items of furniture, bikes, plants (even Christmas trees) but drivers need to be very careful about how they prepare their vehicle for a journey when it is loaded in such a way but are drivers committing a criminal offence?
MM have teamed up with Olliers Solicitors, a leading criminal law firm based in Manchester, to answer your questions.
Hi Mancunian Matters,
I see people driving around all the time with furniture sticking out of their cars and I was wondering if it’s illegal.
I am moving house shortly and to move some of the bigger items in my house, like my wardrobe, I might need to drive with my boot open.
Can you ask Olliers Solicitors whether I could get in trouble over this for me?
The short answer is yes, the more frightening answer is that it could be Dangerous Driving which is one of the most serious motoring offences a driver can commit.
Section 2 of The Road Traffic Act 1988 states: “A person who drives a mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place is guilty of an offence.”
This seems pretty straight forward in itself but it is actually a little misleading as the definition of ‘dangerous driving’ is covered by section 2a.
This section is a little more expansive but it is beneficial to look at each part of it separately.
It first states: “A person is to be regarded as driving dangerously if (a)the way he drives falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and (b)it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.”
Overloading your vehicle in itself wouldn’t fall into this category as such a vehicle could still be driven perfectly by an able driver.
That said, the Act goes further in its definition saying: “A person is also to be regarded as driving dangerously …. if it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving the vehicle in its current state would be dangerous.”
Dangerous refers to danger either of injury to a person or damage to property and in determining for these purposes, the ‘state of the vehicle’ may be had to ‘anything attached to or carried on or in it’.
Motorists around the country have all heard of dangerous driving but I imagine very few realise that the definition extends so far.
In answer to the question posed, what you need to be aware of is the level of loading your vehicle and whether 1. You think it looks like it might be dangerous and 2. Whether you think it would look dangerous to a general, careful and competent driver.
Loading your vehicle in itself is not the offence but you must exercise caution and having things sticking out or not secured properly could lead to an officer taking the view that it is dangerous.
So by all means load up your vehicle, just make sure it is not likely to cause a danger to either a person or property.
Having things sticking out could be considered dangerous as there is more chance it could hit another car, a pedestrian or even distract other drivers.
Dangerous Driving carries severe penalties (with imprisonment being an option in some cases) so it is wise to err on the side of caution.
To find out more about Olliers Solicitors click here.
Image courtesy of Mr Bean, via YouTube, with thanks