Tips to Stay Safe When Driving Oversized and Heavy Loads

Driving an oversized load can be terrifying. It pushes your truck and trailer, harder than you may have before. You also have more weight on your trailer, making it harder to stop if someone slams on the breaks in front of you. Turning may be scary because you may have some of the load that is not completely on your trailer. It can be harder to maneuver around traffic because of the sheer size of your load. 

However, it doesn’t have to be that scary. As long as you drive carefully (and follow the rules), you can safely get your load from one place to another (no matter how big it is). 

Plan ahead. It is important that you plan ahead when you are hauling an oversized load. You are going to need to do some research to make sure that you are on the road when you are allowed to be. Many states have days and times when you can’t haul a bigger load. Some also require a pilot car to follow you, so that other drivers will give you plenty of clearance. You may need special permits, that may take some time to get. 

You also want to figure out the best route to take. You are going to want to figure out a way to get where you are going, as easily as possible. Not only that, but you may want to stick to highways, avoiding traveling through towns where you will be starting and stopping regularly. You might want to travel during times when fewer people are on the road, making the trip even less eventful. It is important to make sure that you look for clearances. You don’t want to run into a low bridge and power lines. You may want to avoid toll roads. 

Use the proper equipment. There are many trailers that work best for oversized loads. You may need to use a drop deck or an extendable drop deck. Lowboys and gooseneck trailers often do a good job also. Either way, you are going to want to keep the load low, so that you don’t have to worry about any bridges that you may go under. It is very important that you follow the legal hauling limitations for the trailer that you are using. You can’t put too much weight on the trailer, or you could find yourself in serious legal problems, along with safety issues. 

Load correctly. The truth is that twenty-five percent of all accidents happen at the loading dock. You need to load the equipment as carefully as possible, so nobody gets injured in the process. It is equally important that you load whatever you are hauling as evenly as possible. You are going to want the weight evenly distributed throughout the trailer, so you are less likely to tip over and lose control of your rig. Use caution when securing your load. Use extra chains and binders to make sure that nothing is going anywhere as you go down the road! 

Make sure that your load is labeled correctly. Oversized loads need to be labeled correctly. You may need to use orange or bright red warning flags for the front and back of your rig. You may also need to have a banner that lets other drivers know that you are oversized. If you are hauling at night, you may need to have special lights to warn drivers about your heavy load. 

Always drive with a pilot escort if needed. Certain states require pilot escorts to follow you when you are driving down the road. This just gives other drivers even more notice that they have to drive carefully around you. You may need one in front and in back of you, so it is important that you read all state rules before traveling.

Then, always, always, always double-check your commercial vehicle and trailer before pulling out. No matter what you are driving, you need to do an inspection of your vehicle. Make sure that your tires are filled properly by checking your tire pressure. Fill up your fluids, including your oil and windshield washer fluid. Check that your load is secured on the trailer. Get in the vehicle and check your brakes. Make sure that your lights are working properly, along with your turn signals. You need to feel like your truck and trailer are all ready before pulling out! 

Though many don’t want to haul an oversized load, the truth is that, as long as you are careful, you can get the load from one place to another safely. However, before you start, you need to do your research. Figure out where you are going and what states you will be traveling through. Make sure that you know the laws in those states. You may only be able to haul on certain days and times. You may need a pilot escort through at least one or two states. 

Then, plan your route. Try to avoid places where you will have to do a lot of starting and stopping. You may want to take the simplest route, choosing to stay on one highway instead of changing highways often. Make sure that you also look for bridges. Not only might you be too heavy to go over some, you also have to worry about your clearances. You need to make sure that you are going to fit underneath all of the bridges. 

You also need to use the proper equipment. You might want to haul using a drop deck or a lowboy trailer. It is also important that you don’t overload your trailer by carrying something that is too heavy. Then, how you load it is just as important. You want to make sure that the weight of your load is equally distributed over your trailer. Otherwise, you may tip over! Then, just like every other trip, make sure that you go over your truck and trailer before you leave!

Contact us for all of your commercial truck insurance agency needs. We are proud to offer insurance in 9 states, including Florida, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Tennessee.

David Ott

David Ott