If you think that truck driving is easy, you better think again because transporting heavy goods, especially oversized loads, can be an enormous challenge. If a shipment cannot be broken down into multiple loads, there’s no choice but to transport an oversized freight, which comes with several challenges. Hauling an oversized load can make it difficult to navigate roads during bad weather, and an accident could be devastating to the truck drivers, and others on the road.
Oversize loads can be of anything but usually, they are big machines, heavy equipment, pre-built homes, containers, construction materials, structures, or industrial goods. When driving these heavy loads, most drivers will use those “caution: oversize load” banners.
In the United States, oversize load haul is defined as any shipments that exceed the maximum dimensions defined by a state. Although classification varies depending on territory, most states follow the 4.11-meter height requirement. Generally, most trucks can only accommodate up to a maximum weight of 46,000 pounds while trailers have a legal carrying length of 48 to 53 feet.
Regardless if you are a new truck driver or an experienced professional, these tips for trucks hauling heavy loads will certainly help you do the job fast, easy, and safe.
#1: Equipment Matters
You cannot cleanly cut a paper without using scissors, the same principle applies when transporting oversized loads. Without the right tools and equipment, your attempt to carry big cargo won’t be successful.
There are different types of oversize trailers. Drop deck trailers are a favorite amongst drivers because the upper part of the deck drops automatically after it clears the back unit. You can also consider using an extendable drop deck trailer, which has all the features of a drop deck except that the body can be extended according to load size. Other trailers you can use include:
- Gooseneck trailers with a modifiable bar that is fastened to the bed of the truck.
- Lowboy trailers, which are good for cargos of up to 12 feet in height.
- Specialty trailers for shipments with distinct specifications.
#2: Plan the Trip in Advance
One of the most important tips for drivers hauling heavy loads is to plan the trip as early as possible. Give yourself weeks or even months to study the route and get your equipment and supplies organized. Keep in mind that a successful drop relies on your readiness and preparedness.
You need to make sure that there are no weather hazards, bottlenecks, high traffic areas, detours, or construction projects that will delay your driving, especially if you’re going a long distance. When planning your trip, make sure to focus on:
- Using GPS technology to clearly see the route and road condition.
- Avoiding streets or highways with low bridges and hanging wires.
- Have a plan B and C in place in case something unforeseeable happens.
#3 Know Your Schedule
Your ability to deliver shipments on time is the life and blood of every hauling service provider. However, there are factors that will surely affect your schedule. Aside from traffic and other unavoidable circumstances, there are certain elements that if not addressed immediately, will definitely cause delays on your route.
Majority of states in the U.S give heavy haulers a schedule on the road. Commonly, it is set from Mondays to Fridays with a travel window between 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Hauling during weekends and holidays can also restricted. To ensure road readiness, always:
- Have your state-specific permits and requirements ready.
- Ask your driver to keep the route mapping handy at all times.
- Calculate the total distance of the trip as accurately as possible.
#4: Make Sure You Know the Rules and Regulations
Each state has its own rules and regulations when it comes to heavy load hauling. Although rules may vary depending on location, most states within the US require oversize cargos to have pilot vehicles throughout the haul. Pilot vehicles provide additional assistance and monitoring to ensure maximum safety. They clear the route ahead of time and alert the public for potential hazards.
Proper permits, as well as licensing certificates, are also mandatory, and requirements differ according to state. In addition, you should also be aware of accessorial charges that shippers must pay on top of the per-mile rate. Common accessorial charges include:
- Shrink wrap and pallet jack when needed.
- Layovers, hotel costs, and additional stops.
- Truck Ordered Not Used, deadhead, tolls, etc.
#5: Understand Which Special Markings You Need
Carrying an oversized load poses a danger to other drivers on the road so safety needs to be the topmost concern. Trucks hauling heavy loads must follow specific operating procedures to minimize the danger and maintain the safety of the operation.
Special markings are used to alert and signal to other drivers. Requirements are different for every state but some of the most common markings for heavy loads are:
- An “oversize” banner with a yellow reflective background that should be clearly visible to other drivers.
- 18 or 12-inch square bright red or orange warning flags during daytime travel.
- Amber or red lights for night hauling with optional flashing amber lights on top of the cab.
Trucking comes with many risks and rewards, especially when it comes to hauling oversized loads. Following the tips above and making sure you have Trucking insurance will definitely help put you on the road to success!