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How to drive a forklift on public roads

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How to Register a Forklift


Driving a forklift off your commercial premises and onto a public road may require you to comply with certain regulations and procedures. Here is a guide to what you need to be aware of before taking the forklift out:

register a forklift

Special licenses

As with using a forklift anywhere, any drivers will need to have passed a forklift operator course. To then drive on a public road, all drivers will need to hold a full UK driving license. Depending on your age, the following restrictions may also apply for you to be legally allowed to drive:

– Must be 17 to drive trucks weighing up to 3.5 tonnes when fully laden
– Must be 18 to drive trucks weighing up to 7.5 tonnes when fully laden
– Must be 21 to drive trucks weighing more than 7.5 tonnes when fully laden

Vehicle taxes

If the total distance travelled on public roads per week exceeds 1 mile, then the forklift will need to be taxed. If the total distance is below this, then you will not need to tax it, as long as its intended purpose is for horticulture, agriculture or forestry.

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Forklift Customisation

When driving a forklift on public roads, you will need to ensure it contains appropriate lighting. It should also have a number plate and have a flashing amber beacon if you will be driving at less than 25 mph. You must regularly service and maintain the forklift and keep records. If the forklift is at risk of rolling over, you will need to fit a seat belt.

Complying with regulation

If you are going to be travelling further than 1 mile a week, you will need to comply with Road Vehicles Regulations. A common myth is that, if you’re just crossing a road or driving a minimal distance, then you won’t have to fit any regulations. This is false because even if you are on public roads for the shortest of periods, you will need to insure, tax and register the forklift. For distances above 1000 yards in any one go, you will need to comply with Construction and Use Regulation. If distances are less than this and within the limit of 1 mile a week, then you can get a special dispensation.

register a forklift


The Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA)

As a means to overcome the confusion surrounding driving a forklift on public roads, the FLTA has brought together all of the governmental regulation into one useful document. You can purchase it yourself here. However, if you are a part of the FLTA, then you should be able to access this for free.

It is worth noting that, if you are not eligible for special dispensation, then the changes you need to make to your forklift could be substantial. It is hard to say exactly how much you will need to change, as it depends on your specific circumstances and intended use for the vehicle. Be sure to read this government regulation in depth before taking your forklift on a public road; failing to comply can lead to some hefty fines.

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