Load restraint guide to light vehicles

The National Transport Commission has guidelines governing the safe transport of goods for light vehicles.

What is a light vehicle?

A light vehicle is any car, Ute, van, truck or trailer (including a combination, e.g. a Ute and trailer) that has a gross vehicle mass up to 4.5 tonnes.

The guidelines include the following rules on load restraint.

You must restrain any load you are carrying on a light vehicle so that it:

  • Stays on the vehicle during normal driving conditions – this includes heavy braking, cornering, acceleration and even minor collisions.  
  • Doesn’t negatively affect the stability of the vehicle, making it difficult or unsafe to drive. Doesn’t protrude from the vehicle in a way that could injure people, damage property or obstruct others’ paths.
  • You must pick up any fallen load if it is safe to do so, or arrange for someone to retrieve it.


  • Restraining your load is not complex, but it does require training and knowledge.

Read the NTC load restraint guide for light vehicles and keep it handy as a reference.


Get training – from more experienced colleagues or load restraint training organisations.

  • Loads can and do move if not properly restrained.

A load can move forwards, backwards or sideways and must be restrained in each of these directions. You must also ensure any upwards movement is limited.

Light and heavy loads move just as easily – don’t assume a heavy load will be held by its weight: it won’t.

Braking forces are typically higher at low speeds – don’t assume because you are travelling slowly that you don’t have to restrain your load correctly.

  • Each load is different; consider the restraint method that will work best.

Choose a load restraint method that allows you to meet your legal obligations.

Choose a vehicle that meets the requirements for dimension and projection, and is well-maintained and roadworthy.

Choose load restraint equipment that is fit-for-purpose, has the rated capacity to restrain the load and is in good working order.

  • There are two main load restraint methods.

Tie-down restraint – using lashings to clamp the load to the vehicle (relying on friction for most of the restraint forces)

Direct restraint: Containing – the load is contained within the vehicle. Blocking – the load is blocked from moving by a rigid structure, e.g. a rated headboard. Attaching – the load is attached to the vehicle.

  • Check your loads and lashings regularly during your journey to make sure the load remains secure.

Lashings can lose tension during the journey and loads may shift, settle or compress.

For more educations about this topic head to National Transport Commission. 


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