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How To Choose The Best Pilot Car Service When Brokering Your Heavy Haul Load


Best Pilot Car Services For Freight Brokers

In a previous article covering the 9 Factors to consider when choosing a heavy haul carrier, one listed requirement was the ability to plan/run the designated route prior to the actual event. This helps prevent unforeseen problems while in transit, thus eliminating delays and damaged goods/equipment, which in turn ultimately deters possible losses for BOTH the customer and the heavy haul broker company. This is manifested in the use of a pilot car company. Pilot cars are used when the load being transported is oversize and does not meet the DOT standards for dimension of load. If your interested in learning how to become a freight broker who works with heavy haul loads and pilot car services, then visit our main website and contact us for questions about getting started today.

Configuration of the brokered load and of the equipment is gathered along with the suggested route and state permits along with necessary surveys where appropriate. The determination of whether the load is top heavy, overweight, or over height is made to ensure the use of proper equipment (i.e. high-pole). Then all permits, surveys and other regulatory documents are put in order, checked, and double checked. Each freight broker must work closely with their customer to ensure these requirements are met.


Pilot car teams are steeped in extensive safety protocols, and their route planning includes contingency plans as well. Pilot cars involve two different areas of public safety, including the protection of public property (i.e. bridges) and protecting motorists sharing the same roadways during the time of transport. It is highly suggested that each freight broker stay in constant communication with their pilot cars while the heavy haul load is being delivered.

Route planning may appear to be straightforward, but nothing could be further from the truth. Initial known/static issues are considered and addressed. But contingencies for readily changing road conditions must be planned for also.


Important factors that affect your brokered heavy haul load and your pilot car service must consider are :

  • Road Construction,

  • Road Closures

  • Traffic Flow

  • Impending Roadway Restrictions Or Hazards

  • narrow structures

  • Bridges

  • Guard Rails

  • Elevated and/or Rough Grade Crossings

  • Impaired Clearances

  • Changes In Surrounding Traffic Speed Or Volume

  • Change In Road Or Weather Conditions

  • Trees

  • Utility Lines

  • Soft Shoulders

  • Stalled Vehicles

  • Mailboxes

  • Telephone Poles

  • Railroad Crossings

  • Schools

To further bolster the safety conscious atmosphere surrounding the role of pilot cars teams, good companies have extensive and effective communication setups. As was noted above many known and unknown road hazards exist on any route proposed by the carrier. So, effective emergency preparedness communication protocols are imperative. No one ever wants an emergency, but the job of piloting an oversize load is naturally fraught with such a possibility. OVER PLANNING should minimize any such events. Freight Brokers must be prepared to manage any unknown situations that arise while moving a heavy haul load.

Another factor brokers must decide in choosing a pilot car company is the type and condition of necessary equipment used by the pilot car company. If they have adequate pre-planning, road hazard analysis, safety and communication protocols, and emergency preparedness, but use substandard equipment, then everything else is factually null and void. Remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Why would you spend a sizable sum of money to hire a company that takes shortcuts? Shortcuts in the transportation industry often end tragically with the loss of life, property, and possibly the downfall of an otherwise successful company. To put it in perspective, would you fly in a jetliner with one wheel missing? And really, if a pilot car company cannot afford proper equipment, chances are they are not right for you.

So, do not choose your pilot car company to quickly and without performing due diligence. Freight Brokers must remember they are every bit as vital as any other aspect of transporting your high dollar cargo safely and expeditiously.


This was a general summarization of the pilot car process derived in part from the publication: Pilot Car Escorts Best Practices Guidelines, Sponsored by SC&RA

Department of Transportation Federal Highway Association, (CVA) Commercial Vehicle Alliance. We highly suggest that any freight broker business working within the heavy haul industry should join this organization and take advantage of their training and services.

(https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Pilot_Car_Escort_Best_Practices_Guidelines_508CLN.pdf)