The Road Traffic Act and forklift trucks used on private land

guide to road traffic act and forklifts

Did you know that the Road Traffic Act could apply to forklift trucks even if you’re using it on private land?

If you own, manage, lease, or use a forklift truck in connection with your business you may believe that your existing commercial insurance policy will cover you in the event of an accident involving third party vehicles or persons occurring on, in or around the vicinity of your premises, factory or building site.

However, a public liability policy (or public liability section of your commercial or contractors combined policy) will exclude liability arising from the use of a motor vehicle in circumstances where the Road Traffic Act applies, as this cover must be arranged under a motor policy.

So, when does the Road Traffic Act apply to forklifts?

Unfortunately, it is a common misconception that the Road Traffic Act only applies to the public highway; but did you know that this was recently extended to include ‘public places’?

You might think that because a place isn’t a road that it is not covered by the law. That isn’t always true – the location could still be classified as a public place (including footpaths).

The fact that the land is ‘private’ is irrelevant if the court finds that it is a place where the public could have access.

What is defined as a “PUBLIC PLACE” in the context of the Road Traffic Act 1998 is a matter to be determined by the court, and therefore if you operate a fork lift truck or similar machinery on public roads, car parks/yards, pavements – or which could come into contact with the general public even if the land is private then we would strongly recommend you consider appropriate motor insurance in order to avoid costly legal expenses and claims in the event of damage to third party property, injury or worse.

Furthermore, the machine would not need to be ‘road registered’ for the Road Traffic Act to operate.

This additional motor insurance needn’t be expensive with premiums starting from £200.

Real life claim example of a forklift truck accident

An engineering firm was unloading a delivery of pallets outside their premises, using a forklift truck. In doing so, the machine reversed out into the adjoining road to access the opposite side of the lorry and collided with an oncoming vehicle. Third Party Only motor insurance was arranged under the insured’s fleet policy, which met the repair costs of the third party’s vehicle and associated losses.

Expert commercial insurance advice from Glowsure

If you’re unsure about any of the points raised in our blog, talk to Glowsure. We’re are insurance specialists who can give accurate advice and information based on your circumstances.

Call us on 01730 239387 for a no obligation chat or find out more about our comprehensive range of commercial and business insurance services.

Picture of Rebecca Haynes
Rebecca Haynes
Rebecca is the Operations Manager at Glowsure and a self confessed insurance nerd. She helps businesses and landlords to retain income and continue trading in the event of a claim.
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