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Choosing The Best Pilot Car Escort For Your Heavy Haul Load



In a previous article covering the 9 essential requirements to consider when choosing a heavy haul carrier, one listed requirement was the ability to plan/run the designated route prior to the actual event. This helps prevent unforeseen problems while in transit, thus eliminating delays and damaged goods/equipment, which in turn ultimately deters possible losses for BOTH the customer and the heavy haul company. This is manifested in the use of a pilot car company. Pilot cars are used when the load being transported is oversize. For your pilot car needs, visit our main website and contact us for questions

Configuration of said load and of the equipment is gathered along with the suggested route and state permits along with necessary surveys where appropriate. The determination of whether the load is top heavy, overweight, or over height is made to ensure the use of proper equipment (i.e. high-pole). Then all permits, surveys and other regulatory documents are put in order, checked, and double checked. Pilot car teams are steeped in extensive safety protocols. Their planning includes contingency plans, also. Pilot cars involve two different areas of public safety, including the protection of public property (i.e. bridges) and protecting motorists sharing the same roadways during the time of transport.

Route planning may appear to be straightforward, but nothing could be further from the truth. Initial known/static issues are considered and addressed. But contingencies for readily changing road conditions must be planned for also. These may include the following: road construction, road closures, traffic flow, impending roadway restrictions/hazards, narrow structures and bridges, guard rails, elevated and/or rough grade crossings, impaired clearances, changes in surrounding traffic speed or volume, change in road or weather conditions, trees, utility lines and soft shoulders, stalled vehicles, mailboxes, telephone poles, and railroad crossings.

To further bolster the safety conscious atmosphere surrounding the role of pilot cars teams, good companies have extensive and effective communication setups. As was noted above many known and unknown road hazards exist on any route proposed by the carrier. So, effective emergency preparedness communication protocols are imperative. No one ever wants an emergency, but the job of piloting an oversize load is naturally fraught with such a possibility. OVER PLANNING should minimize any such events.

Another factor in choosing a pilot car company is the type and condition of necessary equipment used by the pilot car company. If they have adequate pre-planning, road hazard analysis, safety and communication protocols, and emergency preparedness, but use substandard equipment, then everything else is factually null and void. Remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Why would you spend a sizable sum of money to hire a company that takes shortcuts? Shortcuts in the transportation industry often end tragically with the loss of life, property, and possibly the downfall of an otherwise successful company. To put it in perspective, would you fly in a jetliner with one wheel missing? And really, if a pilot car company cannot afford proper equipment, chances are they are not right for you.


So, do not haphazardly choose your pilot car company. Remember they are every bit as vital as any other aspect of transporting your high dollar cargo safely and expeditiously. This was a general summarization of the pilot car process derived in part from the publication: Pilot Car Escorts Best Practices Guidelines, Sponsored by SCRA (Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association), Department of Transportation Federal Highway Association, (CVA) Commercial Vehicle Alliance

(https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Pilot_Car_Escort_Best_Practices_Guidelines_508CLN.pdf)

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