When do we call an abnormal crossing?

Abnormal crossing refers to vehicles or vehicle combinations with or without cargo, whose axle load, dimensions or actual total weight exceeds the standards provided for in the Road Traffic Law of June 20, 1997.

This way of transportation can be building constructions, parts for wind turbines, passenger planes, and even trains or streetcars. Non-standard journeys usually take place at night because of the lower traffic volume. The route is set in advance, however, there are situations where it is necessary to dismantle road signs or cut down trees growing on the side of the road in order for the convoy to cross a particular section of road.

Conditions allowing the movement of oversize vehicles

The movement of abnormal vehicles is possible if we have the appropriate permits, the issues of which we address below, we observe their conditions, the passage is piloted, and the driver takes special care while driving.

As of March 13, 2021, we are bound by EU standards that allow all public roads to be used by single drive axle vehicles with a load of up to 11.5 tonnes. However, this is a contentious issue as local road managers may limit the permitted single drive axle load on their road to 8 or 10 tonnes, which requires more careful route planning and makes it much more difficult for abnormal vehicles to pass.

A favourable change for transport companies is the fact that the category IV permit (formerly category VI) is applicable on all public roads, and not, as it was the case so far, only on the roads indicated by the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways.

Categories of permits for non-normative traffic

There are five categories of abnormal traffic permits that differ in terms of duration and size of particular vehicles or vehicle combinations.

Category I refers to vehicles that fall within the standards of length, height, axle load and actual weight, with a width not exceeding 3.5 m.

Categories II-III refer to vehicles that fall within the axle load and actual weight standards, but vary in length and height.

Category II:

length of a single vehicle up to 15 m

length of the vehicle combination up to 23 m

Width for all vehicles up to 3.2 m

Height for all vehicles up to 4.3 m

Category III:

length of single vehicle up to 15 m

length of combination up to 23 m

length of combination of vehicles with steering axles up to 30 m

Width for all vehicles up to 3.4 m

height for all vehicles up to 4,3 m

Category IV refers to vehicles that are within axle load standards, but their lengths, widths, heights, and actual total weight vary.

Category IV:

length for a single vehicle up to 15 m

Length for combinations of vehicles up to 23 m

Length for a twist axle combination up to 30 m

width for all vehicles up to 3.4 for a single carriageway

width for all vehicles up to 4 m for a dual carriageway of class A or S

a height for all vehicles of up to 4,3 m

an actual gross laden weight of up to 60 t

Category V concerns vehicles of dimensions and actual total mass greater than those specified in categories I to IV, with axle loads exceeding the permissible values.

Category I permits are issued for 12 months, II – IV for 1 month, 6 months, 12 months or 24 months. Category V is for single or multiple trips.  The permit is valid for 14 days for a single journey and 30 days for multiple journeys.

Signs of vehicles piloting the abnormal traffic

Depending on the size of abnormal vehicles they can be piloted by one or two pilot vehicles. The vehicles piloting the abnormal vehicle shall have

– sign of the piloting vehicle

– Two yellow flashing lights

– means of direct radio communication with pilot vehicles

– sound amplification devices.