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Archives for Oversize Loads

What is a Pilot/Escort Vehicle in Heavy Haul Trucking?

Known as a pilot vehicle or escort vehicle, it’s a passenger car or truck that drives ahead of an oversize load in the heavy haul trucking industry. Escort vehicles are equipped with a rotating light on the top of the vehicle and are required to have an oversize load sign prominently displayed to ensure the safety of others on the road, along with the cargo.

Escort Vehicle

An escort driver is utilized when the cargo of a heavy hauler exceeds the height, weight or width of a normal load. The driver of an escort vehicle is in constant communication with the truck driver, providing support and guidance.

Road conditions can change quickly and unexpected construction work is always an ongoing concern. Escort vehicle drivers have a variety of responsibilities. The drivers prevent damage to roads, bridges and other types of infrastructure by the heavy hauler. They must also be insured and have specific certifications.

Escort drivers are responsible for coordinating movement of obstructions such as traffic lights, signage and electric wires. They also connect with law enforcement when needed to direct traffic. Escorts minimize delays by avoiding heavy traffic areas when possible. The vehicle drivers also assist heavy haul drivers safely change lanes, enter traffic and make turns.

The primary responsibility of an escort vehicle driver is to collaborate with the heavy haul driver to keep them apprised of any obstacles or impediments that interfere with the fast and safe delivery of the cargo. The requirements for equipment that escort vehicles must carry vary by state and are based on the dimensions of the oversize load.

Some states require the escort vehicle to be in front of the heavy hauler, while others require them to follow behind the tractor-trailer, and some states require two escort vehicles – one in front and one in the rear. State or local police escorts may be mandated for loads that require a road closure or take up two lanes of road. A height pole car is required on the lead vehicle to measure the height of any obstructions.

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What is the Maximum Weight to Avoid a designation as an Oversize Load?

The Dept. of Transportation (DOT) sets weight limits, but they’re not the same in every state. Each state must allow trucks up to 80,000 lbs. on federal highways. Drivers are responsible for knowing the different limitations of the federal, state county and even city roadways over which the load will be transported. They can vary significantly.

Oversize load

Oversize loads must also be able to pass the Federal Bridge Formula test. The Federal Bridge Formula determines the maximum weight a truck can carry on two or more axels, calculated to the nearest 500 pounds. The complicated calculation takes into consideration the number of axels and the spacing between axels. The purpose of weigh stations is to catch drivers that aren’t adhering to the rules.

Overall limits are calculated according to 5 variables that can, and do, vary by state. Federal limits are based on tire width and the number of tires, axel groups, how axels are spaced, and the manufacturer’s ratings. Some manufacturers build tractors designed to carry the maximum weight permissible and under any circumstances.

Load limits place a lot of responsibility on drivers. They can be fined tens of thousands of dollars for exceeding weight limits or even serve jail time. Weigh station officials can also sideline the truck until it conforms to weight limits. That requires someone to offload part of the cargo. The entire process results in substantial delays of deliveries.

The DOT sets weight standards in the interest of overall safety for truck drivers and passenger vehicles. It requires much more time and space to turn, slow or stop a heavy hauler than the average passenger vehicle – a fact that many motorists fail to recognize. The limits are also designed for trucks to cause the least amount of damage to roadways.

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The Art of Moving Houses

People move houses for a variety of reasons. They may really like their home, but not the location. It also costs about a third of the money to build a new home. Moving an entire structure can cost as little as $15,000 or as much as $200,000, depending on the size of the structure and the distance to where it will be relocated.

Moving Houses

Moving a house is a job for a heavy hauler and requires a specific level of knowledge and expertise. The four-part process requires preparation of the site, elevating the building, the physical relocation, and setting the structure up in its new location.

The home is disconnected from all utilities and the doors to cabinets and other areas are closed and secured. While not absolutely necessary, many people prefer to remove items from walls, shelves and mantles to prevent the potential for breakage. An average of 10 feet is needed around the home to accommodate excavations. Then the process of lifting the home begins.

The home is elevated from its foundation in a painstaking process that raises the house in very small increments with a series of interlinked hydraulic jacks that all work at the same time. When the house is high enough, steel support beams are placed under the home. They work in conjunction with interlocking wooden posts to help steady the structure. Jacks are then placed under the steel beams to further lift the home.

When the needed height is attained, sliding beams are placed underneath and are used to pull the house onto specialized dollies. The dollies are attached to a semi-tractor that will begin the slow and meticulous task of moving the house to its new location at a very slow pace.

Traffic control is required to block oncoming traffic and direct it away from the home’s path. The house moving company has a crew that will remove and then replace mailboxes and other items as needed. The local power company will be needed to move electric lines out of the way.

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Are Oversize Loads Dangerous?

The short answer is yes. They represent an increased potential for multiple types of vehicle accidents. It’s just one of the reasons that individuals should exercise care and caution when engaging the services of a heavy hauler. The size and weight of the vehicles means they cause more damage when involved in a collision, which also increases the risk of fatalities.

Different Requirements

Heavy haulers require more time and distance to stop or try to avoid an accident than passenger vehicles. They also need more room to maneuver and make turns. The size of the trucks result in significant blind spots – facts that motorists typically don’t think about. Carelessness around any type of cargo hauler can result in catastrophic outcomes and the risk increases with heavy haulers.

Oversize Loads

Most Common Accidents

The three most common types of accidents experienced by truckers are rollovers, blown tires and jackknife crashes. Rollovers happen when trucks are forced to make sharp turns, the load’s weight isn’t evenly distributed, or the load isn’t adequately secured. Tires support a lot of weight and a blown tire can result in drivers losing complete control of the tractor and trailer.

Jackknife crashes can occur when a tractor-trailer rig must come to a sudden stop, while traversing downhill slopes and steep grades, or when truckers are transporting cargo on wet, snowy or icy roads. It happens when the tractor and trailer “fold” at a sharp angle to each other. The driver has no control in these situations and the trailer can easily swat other vehicles off the road.

Driver Precautions

Tractor-trailer rigs are more dangerous simply due to their size and weight. Reputable truck drivers and companies, especially heavy haulers, take every precaution to protect loads and deliver them safely to their destination. Operators of passenger vehicles need to keep in mind the extra time and space that truckers need to operate safely and maintain a safe distance.

Contact us today for Free Shipping Estimates and heavy hauling trucking information. We welcome any questions, concerns, or comments you may have.

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