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5 Key Considerations for a Wide Load and Oversized Load

5 Key Considerations for Wide Load and Oversize Load Shipping

When speaking about road transport, an oversize load or wide load truck is one that exceeds the maximum size or weight limit required for a truck on a specific road, highway, or any other transport infrastructure. Annually, 600 million tons of oversize loads hit the highways. You probably have come across an oversize load a time or two when travelling.

A vehicle, like a wide load truck, that exceeds the dimensions needs a permit to travel on the road legally. The permit mentions which route to be taken and what date and time the load is to travel. About 5 million permits are granted each year. The way permit prices are calculated for oversize loads can vary depending on state and by dimension of the load, tons of weight, weight increments, or a combination of all of the above.


Here are five top considerations for an oversize load:

1. Understand Your Legal Limits

In the United States, the legal limits for logistics are almost all the same in different states. However, for other areas, you will have to gather your knowledge about the restrictions before transporting an oversize load or wide load.

Generally, the maximum legal width for your load is 8.5 ft. The maximum height limit is 13’ 6” from the ground to the top of the load. The maximum legal load length in most areas is 55 ft but can vary by area and equipment type. The maximum legal weight for a truck going over the road is 80,000 lbs. so when you factor in the weight of the truck and trailer, any shipment over 46-48,000 lbs. may be overweight.

It is important to note that you can not combine multiple pieces of freight to make a shipment over-dimensional or overweight. If the shipment is divisible, it must be shipped on multiple wide load trucks to keep the load legal to travel over the road.

Anything that crosses the measurements mentioned above is considered to be an oversize load.

2. Do You Have An Oversize Load?

Weight restrictions are measured per axle as well as the total weight of the entire shipment. It is possible that a truckload is not exceeding the weight limit, but it is crossing the per-axle limits. However, you can adjust the truckload to make the shipment legal for transportation.

The most common measurement that causes shipments to be oversized is width. Anything that is wider than 8.5 feet is oversized.

3. Rules and Regulations for Travel Escorts

Oversize load with escort in the back

When your shipment is over 12 feet wide, you will need travel escorts, also known as pilot vehicles. These travel escorts warn the drivers of any accidents, constructions, bridges, traffic jams, low wires, or any other hazards. Travel escorts also alert the public when an oversized vehicle is approaching. Escort requirements vary by region as well as the shipment parameters. They essentially provide a buffer between oversize loads and other cars that may be traveling near the oversize load. There are certain cases where an escort vehicle may be needed in both the front and back of the wide load. It all depends on a variety of factors.

4. Know What Factors Will Affect your Schedule

In most states, over-dimensional loads can only travel in daylight, 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Many states restrict oversized loads from traveling during the weekend and holidays. Drivers need to understand the permit requirements of each state and even county and have an exact route in mind. In some instances, the DOT will require a specific route to be taken.

5. What are the Marking Requirements?

Other drivers present on the road should be able to identify an oversized load. The size of the shipment indicates whether or not the vehicle requires a flag or a light. Usually, red flags and amber lights are put up so traffic can easily identify the oversized load. Travel escorts traveling with an oversized freight are also required to have flags on lights on their vehicles.

There are many laws and restrictions regarding shipments of wide loads, so it is important to be well informed about these restrictions and specifications.

About R2 Logistics

R2 Logistics is a third-party logistics (3PL) provider offering industry-leading supply chain management services to shippers of all sizes. R2 Logistics is an Inbound Logistics Top 10 3PL and one of Transport Topics Top 50 Freight Brokerages.

With the R2 Logistics Transportation Management System (TMS), customers can rate shipments and receive real-time visibility into their logistics network. Leveraging its nationwide branch network, R2 Logistics specializes in services that include managed transportation, full truckload, less-than-truckload (LTL), expedited and air freight, intermodal, ocean, and specialized hauling.