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Are There Limits to Heavy Haul Driving Time?

There are definitely limits to how many hours a heavy haul trucker can drive. However, the rules can get confusing. Federal regulations are different for different classes of trucks. Drivers who transport freight within the same state aren’t required to adhere to federal rules. It’s only when heavy haul drivers cross state lines that they must adhere to federal mandates.

Heavy Haul Driving Time

Drivers must keep a log of the hours driven for each day, along with rest stops. Drivers that have been off duty for 34 consecutive hours receive a “reset” on their hours of operation. Each driver must begin their “shift” after having at least 10 hours of off-duty time.

After those 10 hours of off-duty time, they can be on the road for up to 14 hours, but only 11 of those can be actual drive times. Drivers can’t extend their 14-hour duty time with stops for meals, breaks or fuel stops. Drivers aren’t allowed to work more than 60 hours over 7 consecutive days – or 70 hours over 8 days.

There is an exception to those drive time rules in the event of adverse driving conditions. Snow, fog and unforeseen traffic delays allow drivers to extend their drive time by 2 additional hours. Adverse weather conditions are defined as conditions that won’t allow a driver t pull over at a rest stop to conform to 10 hours off duty. However, if it’s at all possible for a driver to pull over, they’re required to do so if they can’t return to their home terminal.

There’s also a 10-hour exception that can come into play. Drivers can be on duty for 16 hours if they begin and end their run at the same terminal, as long as drive time doesn’t exceed 11 hours. Drivers can’t combine the 16-hour and the adverse weather conditions together. They also can’t use the 16-hour exception again until they’ve had a 34-hour rest.

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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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Paperwork for Crossing a Border with Your Heavy Haul

Paperwork is the key to crossing the border into other countries, even though many types are in the form of digital documents. Certain documents are required and without them, you could easily find yourself sidelined until you can produce them.

Crossing a Border

The U.S. moves billions of dollars’ worth of products between Canada and Mexico each year and much of that commerce is delivered via truck. Every load is different and you may need additional documentation. However, the following are the most common types of paperwork you’re going to need.

Bill of Lading (BOL)

The shipper is responsible for generating the BOL and getting it to the carrier or customs broker. The BOL provides a description of the load that includes the type of product, the weight and may include a piece count.

Carrier Information

These are codes that identify the carrier that’s transporting the freight, also known as the Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) in the U.S. In Mexico, it’s known as the Carrier’s Harmonized Alphanumeric Carrier Code (CAAT).

Certification of Origin (USMCA)

This is a document that proves the imported goods qualify for preferential tariff treatment. The document was required under NAFTA. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaced NAFTA on July 2, 2020, but few changes were made to the documentation.

Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice includes approximately 12 essentials such as the vendors name, address, country and a detailed description of the items being shipped. It also indicates the value of the cargo freight costs and value of the shipment, which must be in the denomination of the destination country.

Document of Operations for Customs Clearance

The document is known in Mexico as DODA and is generated by a customs broker on behalf of the carrier. The Mexican government is working to streamline trade and the DODA is obtainable on the Mexican Tax Administration Service website.

MC Number

U.S. haulers must have an MC number issued by the Dept. of Transportation (DOT). U.S. companies must have a Standard Carrier Alpha Code. And drivers are required to comply with the Automated Commercial Environment electronic manifest program.

U.S. Customs Declaration

This is a digital e-Manifest from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This is when the services of an experienced customs broker are invaluable, as additional paperwork may be required, depending on the load.

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When Flags are Necessary on Your Heavy Haul

Numerous rules and regulations govern heavy haulers. One of those is the use of flags. You’ll need overload flags – and possibly signage and warning lights – if your trailer exceeds 75 ft. in length, 8 ft. 6 in. in width, and/or 14 ft. 4 in. in height.

Heavy Haul

Each state has its own set of rules governing oversize loads and you may also be limited in regard to when you can actively drive. There are some states that prohibit movement on state and federal holidays and rules vary according to state highways and interstate roadways.

Flags of orange or red are typically required during the daytime. Amber or red lights are required at night or when visibility is limited. Your best solution is to display the flags and run the warning lights, just to be safe. Flags can be secured to the load by the corner or displayed with the use of a flag staff and must be either a 12×12 inch square or an 18×18 inch square.

Usually, it’s just the trailer that needs flags, but some states require that flags be placed on the front of the tractor. Flags are normally placed on the extreme outside corners of the load. Warning lights serve the same purpose and must be visible for 500 ft. Depending on the load, an escort driver may also be required.

The requirements are designed to warn other drivers and keep everyone safe on the road. As a heavy haul driver, you need more space for stopping, turning corners and maneuvering in traffic. Those factors are often forgotten or ignored by the drivers of passenger vehicles when driving near heavy haulers. Flags, in combination with rotating warning lights, are an excellent way to remind other drivers and mark the parameters of your rig. It’s also a requirement.

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Understanding the Working Load Limit (WLL)

Trucking companies use a variety of methods to secure loads to the trailer, which are known collectively as rigging. Knowing and understanding the working load limit of the rigging is imperative to ensure a load doesn’t break loose. A failure in the rigging would be extremely dangerous and expensive. Individuals can also be cited by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for failure to adequately secure the load.

However, there’s often some confusion between working load limit (WLL) and breaking strength. WWL is the maximum weight allowance that a piece of rigging, such as wires, straps or chains, will handle under normal conditions. They shouldn’t be used to secure anything over their individual breaking limit. On the other hand, WLL is 1/3 of the breaking strength rating. For instance, a breaking strength limit of 30,000 pounds equals a WLL of 10,000 pounds.

Working Load Limit

In the trucking industry, breaking strength refers to the point at which rigging will fail at its weakest point. That area may be the strap, wire or chain itself, or the fittings or device used to apply tension. Riggers, responsible for securing loads, aggregate working load limits to determine how many tiedowns are required for a specific load.

To determine the aggregate load limit, riggers use 50 percent of the WLL for each tiedown attached to an anchor point on the trailer. That’s combined with 50 percent of the WLL of tiedowns that go over, through or around the cargo. There must be a minimum amount of tiedowns in conjunction with WLL. When rolling vehicles are involved, they must also be chocked to prevent them from rolling.

The rules according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are slightly different due to the nature of the cargo. The minimum tiedown rule doesn’t apply to the transport of items such as equipment, trusses, girders or crane booms due to their structural shape, weight, design or size. Those types of cargo must be secured by special methods, but the tiedowns must still meet performance and WLL requirements.

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What is a Flip Axle?

Heavy haul companies have a variety of trailers to accommodate different types of loads and methods to maintain compliance with a myriad of state regulations. One of those methods is the flip axel. It’s typically employed when a trailer’s axle loading exceeds the gross weight that a particular state will allow on each axle.

Flip Axle

With a heavy hauler, an extra rear axle rests on the trailer frame and can be flipped down when needed to increase the number of axels. It can also be flipped up or removed entirely to reduce the number of axles.

The flip axle is a complete axle attached to the rear frame by pins and plates. When drivers require another axle to handle the weight of a load, the flip axle can be set in a down position on the rear of the trailer. Truckers need to be careful as it can make a trailer over length, which may trigger specific permitting and other requirements.

Another option is the lift axle that’s used on the tractor. The lift axle is typically smaller than the other wheels and tires. It enables the driver to lift the tires off the ground when an extra axle isn’t needed, saves wear and tear on the tires of the lift axle, and mitigates the potential of the tires hitting the ground on rough or uneven terrain.

A flip axle on a tractor-trailer rig shouldn’t be confused with flipping the axle on an RV. It’s a method commonly used by RV owners whose vehicle has low ground clearance. It’s done to increase the vehicle’s clearance so the undercarriage and back end doesn’t scrape the ground. The vehicles are typically designed with “underslung” springs where the axles are positioned.

The springs set under the axles in an underslung position. Changing to an over slung setup can give an additional 6 inches of ground clearance because the springs are positioned above the axle. It’s a measure that shouldn’t be taken lightly as it raises the RV’s center of gravity and makes it more susceptible to cross winds and sway, which can present a problem with steering and stability.

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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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What is Super Load Hauling

A super load is any equipment, machinery or item that exceeds a state’s standard limits. It includes items that can’t be broken down or dismantled in some way to be within compliance of a “normal” load. According to federal regulations, a super load is one that exceeds 16 ft. in height, 8.5 ft. in width, and 120 ft. in length. It includes loads of 120,000 lbs. and 150,000 lbs. on interstate highway systems.

Super Load Hauling

However, each state also has its own set of regulations. In Florida, a super load is one that exceeds 15 ft. in height and 14.6 on some two-lane roads. Loads over 14 ft. high and 8.6 ft. wide aren’t allowed on the Florida Turnpike. Heavy haul companies are cognizant of the rules and regulations across any state, enabling them to transport any load safely and efficiently wherever it is needed.

Logistics and Escorts

A top-rated heavy haul company has the advanced logistics to track loads and a variety of trailer types to accommodate loads of any type. They secure loads and break them down when necessary to remain compliant with all regulations.

The companies provide escort vehicles, signage and appropriate warning lights, and map out the best routes to ensure that loads arrived safely and efficiently. There can be limitations on the times of the day in which a heavy haul load can be transported for maximum safety.

Permits

Hauling ordinary cargo is difficult enough, but super loads present special considerations. There’s a mountain of permits that must be obtained to transport a super load within the state. When the load is going across multiple states, into another country, or being shipped overseas the amount of documentation escalates. A heavy haul company negotiates the myriad of regulations and permits required to ensure super loads are delivered on time and no financial penalties are leveled.

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Services of the Best Heavy Haul Companies

The best heavy haul companies in the business do far more than simply transport items from one point to another. They offer a variety of services that ensure the safety and timely delivery of cargo. They’re cognizant of regulations and required permits whether loads are going across the nation or internationally.

Unique Solutions

Each heavy haul has its own requirements and a heavy haul company works with clients to provide the type of trailer that best fits their needs. Each heavy haul solution is customized and the company prepares the load to be hauled. That includes elements encompassing securing doors and moveable parts, cleaning the equipment to be hauled when needed, and breaking down equipment when necessary.

Heavy Haul

Logistics

The best heavy haul companies leverage the power of advanced logistics to track each load at every step of its journey. The company coordinates with people and facilities to ensure on-time deliveries and the routes that will best facilitate the load’s arrival. The companies also connect with local municipalities if adaptations to utilities are needed or if police assistance is required.

Escorts and Signage

Depending on the cargo, escort vehicles may be required. Specialized signage and lights may be needed and there may be limitations on when loads can actually travel on roadways. The companies provide these services.

Permits

Multiple types of documentation will be required, depending upon the load’s destination. Each state has its own particular regulations and even more documents will be needed to pass through customs or ship internationally. Heavy haul companies know what documents are needed in each instance and ensure that those proofs are acquired.

Personalized Guidance

The best heavy haul companies provide expert guidance from first contact to delivery. They know what type of trailer is required and the best routes to take for the most efficient delivery. The company is able to accommodate transport of super load transportation, have multiple types of trailers, and highly experienced drivers. They’re also available when catastrophic recovery is required.

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Shipping Oversized Loads Overseas

The first step in the process is to hire a heavy haul company that has the specialized trailers, advances logistics and experience to ensure the load arrives safely and on time. The company will have the knowledge needed to determine if the cargo meets the specifications of an oversized load.

Oversized Loads

For transportation over roadways, any load over 8.5 ft. wide, 14.5 ft. high, and 48-53 ft. in length qualifies as an oversized load. However, when it comes to shipping loads overseas, any cargo that won’t fit into a 40 ft. or 45 ft. container is considered oversized.

There aren’t any parameters for weight, but there are limits on the amount of weight a specific piece of equipment can carry and countries can stipulate their own weight limits. Heavy haul companies are experienced and knowledgeable about the wide variety of regulations involved in oversized load shipping requirements. Shipping oversized loads overseas requires extensive knowledge and creative solutions. It also requires a multitude of permits and documentation.

In some instances, loads that are too large for a container can be broken down and dismantled for shipping in separate containers. If disassembly isn’t an option, there are flat racks, roll on roll off (RO/RO), lift on lift off (LO/LO, and breakbulk methods. Clients need to keep in mind that weight vs. measurements will affect the charges incurred.

Flat Racks – These are used for cargo that won’t fit into a standard sized container due to size or weight. Flat racks have no side walls, allowing part of the item being shipped to stick out the sides.

RO/RO – This method involves driving the cargo on the ship instead of being lifted aboard the vessel via crane. The equipment or machinery is then secured to the deck.

LO/LO – The ship’s on-board cranes are used to load and unload the cargo.

Breakbulk – A breakbulk ship is equipped with high-capacity equipment able to load and unload oversized loads. In some circumstances, barges may also be used to facilitate the loading.

No matter which method is utilized, a heavy haul company will be able to take care of all the necessary documentation and arrange for a suitable means of loading the cargo to speed it on its way.

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