A survey by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has found that 48% of UK van drivers overloaded their vehicles in the past year.

VW said the finding came despite 89% of driver claiming to know the legal weight restriction for their vehicle.

The survey found that carpenters were the tradespeople most likely to overload their vans (63%), followed by builders (60%), electricians (55%), and painter decorators (55%).

Overloading a vehicle by as much as 30% of its gross vehicle weight could lead to a fine of up to £300, meaning that according to VW, the nation’s van drivers are risking a combined £703 million in penalties. Anything above 30% overloaded and offenders could be issued with a court summons and a custodial sentence in the most serious cases.

A DVSA spokesperson said: “DVSA’s priority is to protect everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure their vehicle is safe to drive. 

“They should make sure they know the maximum permitted gross vehicle weight and limits on each axle of their vehicle.

“We take enforcement action against drivers and operators who risk people’s lives by overloading or not securely loading their vehicles. Our accessible online guidance provides everyone with the information they need to load their vehicle safely and avoid risking the lives of other road users.”