The Federal Highway Administration gave clarification on the definition of an indivisible load, focused on the dubious use of the word "or". - Photo: Evan Lockridge

The Federal Highway Administration gave clarification on the definition of an indivisible load, focused on the dubious use of the word "or".

Photo: Evan Lockridge

The Federal Highway Administration has provided a clarification on the federal definition of a nondivisible load in a response to the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association.

The SC&RA had sent an inquiry to the FHWA asking for clarification on the definition of a nondivisible load as it pertains to all loads, and to the transportation of transformers containing fluid. In the official definition, the word “or” in part of the explanation caused some uncertainty.

The federal definition of nondivisible is given in 23 CFR 658.5 as:

Nondivisible means any load or vehicle exceeding applicable length or weight limits which, if separated into smaller loads or vehicles, would:

(i) compromise the intended use of the vehicle, i.e., make it unable to perform the function for which it was intended:

(ii) destroy the value of the load or vehicle, i.e., make it unusable for its intended purpose; or

(iii) require more than 8 work hours to dismantle using appropriate equipment.

In response the FHWA gave the following clarifying answer:

“As you (SC&RA) assert, the word 'or' at the end of (ii) means that a load that meets any one or more of the three definitions shall be considered nondivisible. States are required to use the federal definition only when considering whether to issue a nondivisible load permit allowing an overweight vehicle or load to operation on the Interstate System and roads providing reasonable access to and from the Interstate.”

According to an SC&RA notice, the “or” in part (ii) of the definition had resulted in states deferring exclusively to part (iii) of the definition, “where the removal of counterweights, etc., typically takes far less than 8 work hours to dismantle. However, the FHWA’s response clarifies that, “loads may still be defined as nondivisible if the removal of the objects will make the load unable to perform the function and will make it (the load) unable to perform the function and/or unusable for which it was intended.”


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