What is the purpose of a Pilot/Escort Vehicle?

If you have ever seen a heavy haulage lorry transporting machinery/equipment you may have also seen 2 or more ‘assisting’ vehicles leading and following. These are called pilot or escort vehicles.

To give you a greater understanding as to what their purpose is, why they are necessary and what regulations they are required to follow – we have put together a useful guide!

You can also find out information about our very own escort/pilot vehicle services here.

What is a pilot/escort vehicle?

A pilot or escort vehicle is used when an abnormal load is being transported on a public road. They are used as a warning of the presence of an excess dimension load.  They communicate with the abnormal load transporter, highway authorities and police throughout the procedure, keeping it all running safely, smoothly and according to plan.

Depending on the size of the cargo, a police escort may be required for the entire or certain specific parts of the journey.

When is a pilot/escort vehicle required?

Pilot/escort vehicles are required when the abnormal load that is being transported meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • The weight exceeds more than 44,000 kilograms.
  • The total width is more than 2.9 metres.
  • It has an axle load of more than 10,000 kilograms for a single non-driving axle or 11,500 kilograms for a single driving axle.
  • The total rigid length is more than 18.65 metres.

What regulations do pilot/escort vehicles have to follow?

There are specified rules and requirements that both operators and suppliers of escort vehicles have to follow. These are all underlined under a document supplied by the Government called the ‘Code of Practice’.

The document includes specifications for vehicle requirements, operations, procedures and the escort driver. It indicates all legal requirements that must be met for the vehicle and driver to be considered legal and safe.

Each escort/pilot vehicle must have specific markings and signing that make it easily identifiable. They must also have a fixed or removable signage that indicates there is an abnormal load, slow lorry or long load when the vehicle is actively engaged in escorting the load.

There are essential duties and responsibilities are placed upon the escort driver that they must follow. These include:

  • Ensuring the Abnormal Load is escorted along the approved transport route.
  • To act as a warning sign to other road users, making them aware of the situation.
  • Acting as a contact point for police authorities and emergency services.
  • Placing cones and beacons around the abnormal load when it has been stationary for some time.
  • Ensuring the vehicle conforms to the standards outlined in the Code of Practice document.

To read more about the specifications and regulations in place, you can find the Code of Practice document here.

What makes a good pilot/escort driver?

There are certain requirements a pilot/escort driver must meet such as being at least 21 years of age, holding a full standard licence, being able to speak and read English and being competent throughout training or experienced with the transportation and movement of abnormal loads.

The majority of pilot/escort vehicle operators will also have training that covers basic first aid and basic use of a fire extinguisher.

A good pilot/escort will be organised, great at communicating, rational and capable of completing the task at hand efficiently and effectively.

At DC Merrett, we offer both heavy haulage transportation and pilot/escort vehicles. Our friendly team are experts at handling, planning and completing entire abnormal load projects successfully. We can provide our reliable escort/pilot vehicles to assist in the transportation of your precious cargo.

If you would like further advice, please take a look at our Escort/Pilot Services page or, contact us today for a quote or to get a conversation going!