In the world of flatbed trucking, drivers can haul all sorts of unique types of shipments. Whereas dry van drivers don’t have to worry (as much) about the size and contents of their trailers, this isn’t the case for truckers hauling oversized loads. When a shipment can’t be feasibly broken down between multiple loads, it’s time to slap on that “Oversized Load” banner and scramble the pilot vehicles! Whether you’ve been a flatbed hauler your entire career or are new to the game, we’ll discuss some tips for hauling oversized loads that you need to know for your next job: tips for hauling oversized loads
Before we go any further, it’s important to explain what qualifies shipments as wide or oversized loads. In the United States, these loads are those that exceed a height and width of 8’6” (2.59 m). Additionally, the legal length of a trailer is typically 48 to 53 feet, with a maximum weight of 46,000 pounds, although certain trucks may be able to scale heavier. Often times, oversize loads are shipments of whole construction vehicles, pre-fabricated homes or structures, or other large objects like silos or septic tanks.
5 Tips for Hauling Oversized Loads
Once hired for an oversized load haul, you’ll need to prepare every aspect of your rig and route to ensure success! This leads us to the first of our tips for hauling oversized loads:
1. Choose the Right Equipment
When preparing for hauling an oversized load, utilizing the proper trailer is incredibly important. Some of the most common trailer types you find include:
- Drop Deck Trailers — Trailers built with a drop in the deck height. The upper part of the deck drops in height directly after it clears the back of the driving unit and sits on the back of the tractor unit.
- Extendable Drop Deck Trailer — Same basic design of a normal drop deck, however, the trailer’s body can extend for loads that are long and cannot extend over the back end of the trailer, but still require the support of the trailer under its entire body.
- Gooseneck Trailer — Connects to the hauling unit by a permanently attached modifiable bar that is affixed to the bed.
- Lowboy Trailers — A low-bed trailer with two height drops in the deck, allowing it to sit very low to the Earth with a maximum capacity of up to 12 feet in height.
Choosing the right trailer is the first way you can ensure you’re oversized haul will be a success. Still, there are several other crucial aspects to discuss…
2. Learn Your State Specific Laws
Each state deals with oversized loads, but their laws surrounding these hauls often differ. In many places throughout the U.S., oversized loads require pilot vehicles to escort the shipment throughout the haul. These additional vehicles provide additional monitoring of the load and any potential hazards that may be present on the road. They also serve to alert the public of the presence of oversized vehicles to effectively clear a route ahead of time.
Shippers of oversized hauls usually pay what are called accessorials, which include the costs of hotels and other incidentals in addition to variable per-mile rates.
Another major aspect of this includes securing the proper permits. Again, each state has its own considerations when it comes to oversized loads, so check out this directory of state transportation websites for more details.
Check out this crazy oversized load compilation:
3. Know the Route Ahead of Time
One of the essential tips for oversized loads is to plan your route ahead of time. GPS technology is great for finding out the best route, but it can’t always alert you to things like weather hazards, impasses, or detours for construction. Avoiding special circumstances like accidents, low bridges and wires, or even just traffic jams often fall to your pilot vehicles, but if you’re local or an owner-operator, it doesn’t hurt to check the route out on your own just to be sure.
4. Understand Factors that Affect Your Schedule
In most states, oversized loads can only operate Monday through Friday in a window between 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Additionally, many states restrict or prohibit these types of hauls over holidays or during weekends. Even with escorts, this is the general format that you’ll be working with as an oversized load hauler.
Considering all of the additionally state-specific permits and route mapping drivers need to specify, maintaining a schedule can be challenging. As long as shippers are experienced and aware of these restrictions, you shouldn’t have any problems with the proper planning!
5. Fully Understand the Special Markings
The size and type of object being shipped dictates the necessity of certain flags, banners, or lights on your truck and trailer. Additionally, pilot vehicles will also require similar markers and this all varies from one state to the next.
Here’s a great guide to help you understand what’s needed on a state-by-state basis.
As long you have the right trailer, permits, and special markings, you’ll be well on your way to hauling oversized loads with success! What are your experiences or tips for hauling oversized loads? Let us know in the comments below!