Oversize Load Sign, Flag & Pilot Car Requirements

There are a lot of regulations for oversize loads, including those for oversize load signs and flags during transport. Not only that, pilot cars escorting oversize loads also must comply by many different requirements. Here, we piece those requirements together.

Oversize Load Sign, Flag & Pilot Car Requirements

When does an oversize load require signs or flags?

Oversize Load or Wide Load banners and warning flags are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for any commercial motor vehicle transporting an oversize and/or overweight load.  Regulations on signage and warning flags vary per state.

Signage

United States

  • Most US states require a banner that is 7’0” wide x 18” high, with 12” lettering
  • All banners require black letters on reflective yellow background
  • Signage placement regulations vary per state

Canada

  • Most provinces require a “D” sign that is 245 cm x 30 cm, with 20 cm series E lettering.
  • All signs require red transparent lettering on reflective white background.
  • Signage placement regulations vary per province.

Warning Flags

United States

  • Required on over-width and/or over-length loads
  • Bright red and/or orange, 18” x 12” square, clean and in good condition
  • Must be secured on the load’s extreme protrusions or on a flag staff
  • Warning flag placement regulations may vary per state

Canada

  • Required on over-width and/or over-length loads
  • Red and/or fluorescent orange, 40 cm x 40 cm square
  • Must be secured on the load’s extreme protrusions or on a flag staff

Requirements for oversize load signage wording can vary state to state. Signage can vary in wording depending on the type of load that is being hauled.

  • Oversize Load (typical signage)
  • Wide Load
  • Long Load
  • “D” (Canada)

Signage Material 

  • Mesh
  • Vinyl
  • Magnetic with vinyl
  • Non-reflective aluminum (single sided, double sided, folding)
  • Reflective metal aluminum (single sided, double sided, folding)

When is a Pilot Car required for oversize or specialized transport?

Regulations vary by state and/or province that pilot car drivers must be aware of to operate.  Even within the same state/provinces there are factors which affect when a pilot car is required such as:

  • The time of day an oversize load is being transported
  • Size of the road an oversize load is being hauled on, and whether the area is urban, rural or mountain
  • The overall dimensions of load commodity

Requirements for Certification

Most states don’t require that pilot car drivers be certified, but those that do have strict requirements in terms of driver training and equipment. Below is a list of states which have pilot car certification or additional training requirements.

United States

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Florida * Additional requirement- National Safety Council 8-hour Defensive driving course certificate
  • Georgia * Additional requirement- GA Amber Light Permit
  • Louisiana * LA Approved Escort Vehicle Permit
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada * Additional requirement- NV Amber Light Permit
  • New Mexico *NM certification inspection required at the Port of Entry
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • TWIC Cards (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) required to enter secure area of maritime ports.

Canadian Provinces

  • AB- No certification/training required at this time
  • BC- Pilot car operators are not required to be certified; however, TCP certification is required to perform traffic control in a high-risk situation.
  • NB – No certification/training required at this time
  • NF – No certification/training required at this time
  • NS – No certification/training required at this time
  • NU – No certification/training required at this time
  • NWT – No certification/training required at this time
  • MB – Manitoba (course required) and does recognizes all US jurisdictions that require PEVO (except New York)
  • ON- Two years of driving experience and a valid driver’s license equivalent to an Ontario Class G2 driver’s license.
  • PEI – No certification/training required at this time
  • QB- No certification/training required at this time
  • SK – No certification/training required at this time
  • YK- No certification/training required at this time

Certification typically requires a driver to pass an approved training course, take a test and demonstrate that he carries the proper safety equipment. Some of the states that don’t require certification still require pilot car drivers to obtain permits before working as a pilot in that state.

How long does it take to dispatch a pilot car?

The length of time varies to dispatch a pilot car and depends. It could take minutes, hours or even days.It depends on the region/state requested, type of pilot car(s) needed and demand. WCS Permits offers pilot car services and emergency dispatch 7 days a week. WCS makes the process quick and efficient and relieves you of the headache of locating a local driver and pilot car for your oversize load or superload. Our top priority is always safety. If you’re in need of a pilot car driver or escort, contact our pilot car department.

Purchase equipment now

WCS Permits & Pilot Cars sells truck safety equipment including oversize load signs in various sizes and materials, as well as warning flags. Our online store also includes a full inventory of lighted devices, measuring devices, safety apparel and more. All oversize load banners and signs for sale online at Store.WCSPermits.com meet the U.S. requirements. WCS’ custom sign shop can make any custom sign by request.