If you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and need to transport ladders, scaffolding, canoes, tipi poles etc below are the official legal requirements.
They can be found on the VOSA – Vehicle and Operator Services Agency Operational Manual under Section 26.
Less than 1 metre: No requirement
1m – 2m: Render clearly visable (ie- red ribbons, high vis vest, etc) “Clearly visible within a reasonable distance to a person using the road”
2m – 3.05: Rear marker board required:
Over 3.05 metres: 2 working days notice to the police must be given.
Projections and overhang to the front:
0 – 2m: No requirements
2m – 3.05: Front and side marker board.
Overhang above 3.05: 2 working days notice to the police:
What the VOSA manual doesnt specify is whether or not you can have a two metre front overhang and two metre rear overhang. We contacted VOSA and were informed that this was the case. Therefore, legally you can have a four metre total overhang without the need for a light board.
In practice however, if you have 3 metre mini and wish to carry seven metre ladders, whether you are legally entitled to carry them or not, this will look very unsafe so you will almost certainly get stopped (You may also need to consider the weight of your poles and the cars MAM – the weight it is allowed to carry)
If the size of the load you are carrying looks unsafe to you, chances are it will look unsafe to other road users and the police. A print out of the VOSA manual kept in your car or van to prove your load is within the law will certainly save you a lot of time if you are stopped.