There are 307,380 bridges in the United States, and considering that many of these bridges are considered structurally unsound, if you’re a truck driver, it’s important to be aware of weight limits and oversize load laws. It’s not just bridges, though. If you’re carrying a load that is over a certain weight, there are also laws regarding which roads you can travel on.
Being a truck driver requires following the many laws of the road, along with staying on schedule in order to make your delivery on time. If you get to a point where your oversized load prevents you from getting to where you need to be, that’s lost time and a potentially unhappy customer. Here’s what you need to know about oversized loads, state regulations, and permits for the load.
What Are Oversized Loads?
Each state has their own regulations, but overall, oversized loads are those that exceed state maximum for width, height, length, and/or weight of load. In many states, the maximum width is 8.5 feet, height limit is 13.5 to 14.5 feet, the length can vary from 48 to 53 feet, and the weight limit is around 46,000 pounds. Again, each state has their own regulations, so it’s important to be aware of each state’s laws if you are planning on driving through them.
When the width of the load is wider than 8.5 feet, in a majority of states you will need a permit. This depends, however, on the type of road you are driving on. A typical interstate or major highway is 12 feet wide, but local, narrow roads you may need a permit if the load is 8 feet wide. For local roads, there may be additional requirements or restrictions for when and where you are allowed to drive, or you may need escort vehicles. When the width is over is 16 feet, this is considered a superload and has additional requirements, including potentially needing the presence of state police.
Permits and Fees
When traveling through a state with an oversized load, it is crucial that you receive a permit from each state with the exact dimensions of the load, along with the type of load and the destination. Fees will vary by state and can be as low as $15 or as high as $70. There is also an application fee, which is typically $15. If you’re a truck driver who frequently has oversized loads, an option is to set up accounts with each state to avoid application fees and to bunch similar hauls in with the same permit. Permits are generally given for a certain time period, whether it’s a few days up to a year.
When you’re preparing a haul with an oversized load, be sure to have the exact measurements and dimensions of the load. Here are a few things to consider as you’re preparing for a wide load transport. If you need any help from Financial Carrier Services to determine if you have an oversized load, feel free to contact us for support. Along with freight factoring services, we want to ensure each client is 100 percent happy with our customer service.
Determining if You Have an Oversized Load
In terms of weight, restrictions are based on the axles limits. You cannot haul a load that exceeds the weight limit of the vehicle, but it can exceed the per-axle limit. By simply adjusting the load and putting more weight on certain axles, you may be able to avoid needing a special permit. The width of the load is typically the reason for requiring a permit, which is anything over 8.5 feet.
Rules For Travel Escorts
Travel escorts are also known as pilot vehicles and are often required when the load is 12 feet or wider. The purpose of a pilot vehicle is to keep the driver of the load aware of certain circumstances, such as accidents, construction zones, bridges, low wires, traffic jams, and other factors that would require especially careful driving. They also work to make other drivers aware that there is an oversized load.
When a load requires a pilot vehicle, the shipper takes on the cost for the driver, including hotels and other accessorials, or incidentals. These costs will be included in the overall cost of the freight.
Consider Your Schedule
If your load does require a pilot vehicle, be sure to plan this into your schedule on the road. A majority of states require that these loads can only be on the road in daylight hours, and often are prohibited from driving on the weekends. Again, permits are required for each state that you are driving though, so when not properly planned, these challenges could slow down your delivery.
To ensure that all traffic on the road is aware of the oversized load, during daylight hours and nighttime, there needs to be either warning signs, flags, or lights marking the extreme corners of the load. Nearly all states require a yellow and black “Wide Load” or “Oversize Load” sign that is placed on the back of the load. Flags should be 18 inches square and placed at the rear and front corners of the load. If the load is able to drive at night, amber lights need to be placed in the same position as the flags.
Above all, it’s essential that you determine each state’s requirements along with the exact dimensions of the load you’re carrying. This will ensure that there are minimal challenges along the way.