Escort drivers lead the drivers of oversize loads throughout their journeys, whether short or long. The driver of the escort, or pilot, vehicle has a duty to keep the public and other drivers safe while helping deliver the often costly large load in one piece. While the requirements for escort drivers vary by state, the overall duties are the same.
Permits and Insurance
Escort drivers must verify the company hauling the load received a permit as directed by the local state's department of transportation. While state laws may vary, the permit generally must include the load size, hauling company’s name and escort information. The escort driver must keep a copy of the permit in the escort vehicle at all times. The escort driver must carry the minimum amount of liability insurance required by the specific state's law for commercial vehicles.
Each state has a specific set of guidelines for escort certification. For instance, the New York State Department of Transportation requires applicants to be at least 21 years old, have a social security card, possess a current New York driver’s license and pass a written certification exam. The exam tests the applicant on safe driving, regulations for moving large loads and procedures for escorting loads. Check with your local DOT regarding the certification guidelines.
Following the letter of the law is of utmost importance for an escort driver, whether leading or following the load. The rules in Louisiana, for instance, specify he must understand and obey the speed limit, avoid running traffic lights or stop signs and avoid improper passing. An escort driver is responsible for warning oncoming traffic of the oversize load and traveling an adequate distance in front of or behind the large load, as directed by each state. The escort vehicle cannot tow a trailer or another vehicle while escorting a load in most states. Make sure you check and follow the driving laws for each state you will travel through.
Inspection and Communication
Before operating the escort vehicle, the driver must complete a pre-trip inspection. This includes checking the tires, fluid levels and lights on the vehicle. The escort driver communicates with the load driver to determine the best route prior to departure. During the trip, the escort driver must maintain constant communication with the oversize load driver at all times with a two-way radio. He must also communicate with other escort drivers and oversize load drivers hauling other loads to warn them of the large load passing. Finding a safe place for the load driver to pull over is also the escort driver’s responsibility.
New York State Department of Transportation: Escorts
Alberta Department of Transportation: Escort Driver’s Handbook
Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development: Escort Requirements for Oversized and/or Overweight Vehicles or Loads
Minnesota Department of Transportation: Escort Requirements
The Info Mine: How to Get a Wide Load Moving Job
Western Power: Escort Types