Driving of fork lift trucks (FLTs) on the public highway

This is a question which has been raised by some clients about using fork lift trucks or other materials handling equipment on public roads and highways.  Questions have circulated about the need for registration, tax, lights and MOT – read on to find out how you might be affected  If you need advice on the following you can use our pay as you go service, alternatively the DVLA can be contacted on 0300 790 6802.

Guidance

Forklift Truck

Once a vehicle passes onto a public road (or as seen below certain other categories of “road”) further legislation will apply.

The following information has been taken from advice supplied by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and supporting Guidance V355/1.

The Road Traffic Act 1988 requires that the driver of a motor vehicle when driven on a road must hold the appropriate driving licence, and, if only provisional entitlement is held, to observe the relevant provisional licence conditions.A ‘motor vehicle’ is defined in the 1988 Act as a mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads. A “road” is defined as any highway, and any other road to which the public has access.

Consequently it would be advisable in our view for an individual to hold the appropriate driving licence entitlement before using any of these vehicles on a “road”.If the fork lift truck is electrically propelled the driver would need a licence covering category L. Alternatively, if the vehicle is exempt from duty, under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 because it is used for Agricultural, Horticultural or Forestry purposes (and its road travel does not exceed 1.5km each trip between different areas of land occupied by the same person) a category N licence would suffice. A full category B (motor car) licence gives full cover for both categories L and N.

The Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 provides that any mechanically propelled vehicle used or kept on the public road should be registered, licensed and display registration plates. A fork lift truck can also be licensed within the “works truck” taxation class. The term “Works Truck” means a goods vehicle (that is a vehicle constructed or adapted for use and used for the conveyance of goods or burden of any description) which is designed for use in private premises and used on public roads only;

i) for carrying goods between private premises and a vehicle on a road in the immediate vicinity;

or

ii) passing between one part and another or to other private premises in the immediate vicinity;

or

iii) in connection with road works at or in the immediate vicinity of the site of such works.

‘The immediate vicinity’ is a phrase that has been the subject of much debate and ultimately only the courts can decide what is considered to be the ‘immediate vicinity’. We suggest that travelling any distance on a road as qualifying in respect of registration and road tax. To register a fork lift truck you should contact your nearest Vehicle Registration Office. They will also advise you about the taxation position, depending on the form of propulsion and usage that the vehicle in question is put to.

The driver of a fork lift would not be required to hold a driving licence when driving a vehicle on private land/site to which the public has no access, although the insurers of the vehicle may have their own policy on such matters. We would therefore suggest you contact a reputable insurance company to establish whether they would issue insurance cover to a non-licence holder.”

For more information go to www.direct.gov.uk/vehicletax  For more information about DVLA’s online services, go to www.direct.gov.uk/onlinemotoringservices


Notes

The “Special Vehicle” tax class encompasses the following vehicles:

  • Mobile Crane
  • Mobile Pumps
  • Digging Machine
  • Road Roller
  • Showman’s HGV
  • Showman’s Haulage Special Trailer
Works Truck – The term “Works Truck” means a goods vehicle (that is a vehicle constructed or adapted for use and used for the conveyance of goods or burden of any description) which is designed for use in private premises and used on public roads only:-i) for carrying goods between private premises and a vehicle on a road in the immediate vicinity; orii) passing between one part and another or to other private premises in the immediate vicinity; oriii) in connection with road works at or in the immediate vicinity of the site of such works.

 

Vehicles of these descriptions weighing up to 3,500kg pay the PLG rate and tax in the PLG class. Vehicles of these descriptions over 3,500kg pay the basic HGV rate and tax in the Special Vehicles class. If these vehicles are used for purposes outside this concession, the appropriate HGV rate applies.

Exempt Vehicles ‘Limited use’ vehicles, vehicles used by a disabled person, Disabled Passenger Vehicle, Historic vehicles, National Health Service vehicles.

‘Limited Use’  applies to a vehicle used solely in connection with agriculture, horticulture or forestry and its road travel does not exceed 1.5km each trip between different areas of land occupied by the same person.