Abnormal loads

An ‘abnormal load’ is a vehicle that has any of the following:

  • a weight of more than 44 tonnes
  • an axle load of more than 10 tonnes for a single non-driving axle and 11.5 tonnes for a single driving axle
  • a width of more than 2.9 metres
  • a length of more than 18.65 metres

If you are responsible for transporting an abnormal load, you need to follow regulations for notifying the authorities.

Notifying the authorities

Depending on the load you’re moving and your route, you may need to give advance warning to:

  • the police
  • highway authorities
  • bridge and structure owners like Network Rail

You can use the Highways Agency electronic service delivery for abnormal loads (ESDAL2) to:

  • plot your route
  • notify the police, highways and bridge authorities of your abnormal load movements around the road network
  • get advance notice of any possible route problems
  • save vehicle details and routes for future use

If you are new to ESDAL2; a Cascade AbHaulier user or in the event of a system failure you may use an:  ‘interactive pdf filler’ notification form


Devon and Cornwall Police & Dorset Police from 1 January 2019 only accept ESDAL2 AIL notifications. Please see the attachment for further details.

Give advance notice

You must allow time to get the necessary clearances from the police, highway and bridge authorities.

Please read the factsheet for notice requirements.

Force Area embargo periods

Restrictions on AIL movements within certain time periods and specific parts of the network are detailed for the forthcoming year:

Devon and Cornwall Police: our role

The Abnormal Loads Officer, located at police headquarters, will use legislation; nationally agreed criteria and guidance; Force policy and local knowledge under a risk assessed process to make determinations as to the requirements for a AIL or vehicle to be escorted on all or part of the route.  The Force determination chart outlines the maximum dimensions/ weight without the need for self-escorting:

Advice on when you need an escort

Self Escort Determination:

ALL Loads covered by VR1 or BE16 or others requiring Police powers; risk assessed or at request of the haulier

Police escorted under Special Duty

S.25 Police Act 1996

M5 Motorway

Width >4.6m (15’1”) 

Weight >130 tonnes

Length >30m

Continuous Dual Carriageways A30, A38, A380 & A361 North Devon Link Road

Width >4.11m (13’6”) 

Weight >100 tonnes

Length >30m

*NB Loads >4.2m W may require Front & Rear escorts depending on risk assessment

ALL Other Roads within Devon and Cornwall area

Width >3.5m (11’5”) 

Weight >80 tonnes

Length >25m

It is the responsibility of the owner/ operator for the safe carriage and movement of the AIL or vehicle in compliance with Regulations and Codes of Practice.   It has long been established that it is no longer a core function of the Police to escort AIL’s, however if during the risk assessed process a need is identified for the use of Police powers to direct and control traffic to enable public safety to be maintained and free flow of traffic on the road network; minimising disruption to other road users and communities it may be determined that a Police escort will be required as well as private escorts.  In the event of a Police escort being used it will be under Special Police Services (SPS) Sec.25 Police Act 1996.

Please note: The operators of the vehicle are required to give at least TWO working days written notice of their intention to move the load. The notice must include details of the operator, their contact details and numbers; load dimensions and weight; the route to be taken and the dates of the movement as per Sec. 81 & 82 Road Vehicles (Construction& Use) Regulations 1986.


It is Force policy that movements of an AIL or vehicle can be notified for up to a maximum of 20 of the same dimensions and weight under a dispensation for a maximum of a 30 day period, without the need to notify each load/ vehicle individually.

The Force also operates an Annual General Dispensation from January to December within the Force area of Devon and Cornwall from the requirement to give notice to the Police only for loads up to 3.5m Wide, where all other dimensions and weight conform to C&U Regulations.

In order to be considered please complete and return

Please note that in order to qualify for such a Dispensation a haulier/ operator must have submitted no less than 30 notifications to the Alliance Forces, but only valid within the relevant Force area.

Please email: abloads
Telephone: 01392 226177
Fax facility no longer available

Office hours: Monday to Friday 8am - 4pm


Abnormal Loads Officer
Devon and Cornwall Police
Police Headquarters
Middlemoor, Exeter

Tel: 01392 226177

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

Current location: Change

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