Tips on Driving Around Oversized Loads

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By Joey Slaughter

Each state has its own regulations regarding oversized loads so there’s no one set of regulations to follow in order to be compliant in another state. The next time you pass an oversized load, here are some of the things going through the driver’s mind:

  • The particular state’s regulations for placement of flags on truck, trailer, and load.
  • Staying on the very specific route that he is permitted to drive on per the DOT.
  • Is it permissible to drive at night? Many states prohibit driving a half hour before/after sunset.
  • How about on the weekends? Some states have limited weekend travel.
  • What about holidays?  Some states prohibit holiday travel because of increased traffic.
  • Some states have 55 mph speed limits for oversized loads no matter the posted limit.
  • Some states require headlights on all the time.

With all of the above weighing in on the driver’s mind, they also have to operate the oversized load safely and they often do this without any help or consideration from fellow truck drivers or motorists.  It has been my experience that all those signs and flags whipping in the wind mean nothing to most truck drivers and motorists. On a recent load to Florida, all motorists buzzed right past me in a construction zone with decreased width, oblivious to the electrical transformer that rested 12″ off of both sides of the trailer. I even had to close the gap and save the life of a guy pulling a camper with his pickup before he tried to pass me in a construction zone with decreased width.

Without further delay, here are 7 tips for driving around oversized loads:

  1. Never pass an oversized load in a construction zone.
  2. When an oversized load signals to get over, there’s a good reason. Let them in.
  3. Don’t follow too closely; the increased width makes it hard to see what’s behind.
  4. Communicate on CB if possible to communicate intent.
  5. Look for the red flags on the freight; this marks the widest point on the load.
  6. Don’t try to squeeze beside them in a truck stop parking space. They may need 2 spots and many states prohibit them the use of rest areas.
  7. When it’s safe to pass, do so quickly in order to minimize the time you’re in a high-risk zone with minimal horizontal clearance.