Pilot Vehicles: Keeping Over-dimensional Hauls Safe

Here in Louisiana, the industries that move oversize/overweight loads include power plants, petrochemical facilities and utilities. A heavy-haul carrier that can handle and transport oversize/overweight loads of this magnitude is critical to continued growth in these sectors.

While some of our competitors move mobile cranes, dozers and excavators, we here at H. Brown have the capability to haul transformers, giant boilers and refinery equipment weighing 100 tons or more.

In addition to truckers hauling the loads, the expanding heavy haul transportation industry also relies on the support of highly skilled, professional pilot car drivers. These escorts partner with the commercial driver and law enforcement to ensure the safety of the highway system and the public, along with making sure the deliverables arrive securely and unharmed.

Let’s take a closer look at the critical role of the escort driver.

What Pilot Vehicles Do

“Over dimensional” is a catch-all term for non-legal loads. That doesn’t mean they are “illegal”. It simply means that permits have to be obtained to make the haul. These permits often stipulate the use of pilot vehicles.

Certified escort drivers usually drive pickup trucks, SUVs or cars in front of or behind an over-dimensional tractor-trailer. The trained drivers behind the wheel make sure that everything from switching lanes to crossing bridges is safe for the heavy haul driver and everyone he shares the road with.

If the truck driver can’t see where he’s going, he can’t get the load to its destination. That’s why certified pilots cover the front and rear of the trailer when over-dimensional freight obstructs a driver’s view. Pilots often communicate via CB radio with the truck driver, letting them know if there are accidents, traffic backups, or any other situations requiring attention.

As you know, each state has its own laws about when an escort car is needed. Most states here in the Gulf South (Texas, Florida and all states in between) specify the length, height and width at which a heavy haul carrier needs a pilot car.

Getting these measurements right is critical. If dimensions are off, it could cost the shipper thousands of dollars in transportation fees and fines, especially if the shipment is passing through several state lines.

For specific regulations for each state, check your transportation department website.

Steps to take before executing a haul:

  • Confirm the dimensions of the load, including width, height, length, front and rear overhangs and the gross weight.
  • Determine what special equipment is needed.
  • Confirm the details of the over-dimensional load with the carrier and the permitting officials.
  • Identify potential risks.
  • Determine if top-mounted skid boards are necessary for over-height loads or if a “high route” survey has been scheduled.
  • How many axels will be used to transport, and what is their spacing? This will determine maneuverability and the ability to traverse railroad grade crossings and other sloped hazards.
  • Ensure the pilot vehicle drivers have the commercial carrier’s information, including the driver’s name, the truck number, the driver’s cell phone number, and the driver’s CB channel.

When the Haul Is Complete

A professional haul requires teamwork, and responsibility for safety doesn’t stop when the move is complete. The pilot car escort is responsible for securing and storing the vehicle’s public warning devices (signage, lights and flags) at the conclusion of the load movement.

Escort drivers also help ensure the over-dimensional load is parked and secure, then assist with a quality assurance review and After Action Report, which is then distributed to the motor carrier safety officer, pilot car company and issuing permitting official.

Pilot Car Escorts, created by The Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SC&RA) in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Over-dimensional hauling service? H. Brown has the equipment to move virtually any super heavy or over-dimensional load, whether it is a short onsite haul or an interstate transport.

Our combination of dual-lane, multi-lane platform, and beam and dolly capabilities meet state permitting and bridge requirements, and our fleet of trucks and trailers are monitored by a state-of-the-art GPS tracking system, giving you 24-hour load updates and security for your equipment.

Whether it’s in-state or across the country, our men work closely with bridge and road engineers to develop, design and manage your move. If you need heavy haul transport, H. Brown Inc. will take the planning off your hands. You can rely on us.

Pilot car photo credit: Ytimg.com

Contact H. Brown

Interested in our services, but have questions? Our knowledgeable staff are standing by to answer your questions about our pricing, technologies, methods, availability, and anything else you'd like to discuss. Please don't hesitate to reach out.



1678 Highway 190
Eunice, LA 70535

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