Information for Drivers and Escorts
From Newbies to the Seasoned Pilot Car Operators
QUESTION: What is a Pilot Car Operator (Escort)?
ANSWER: Escorts are a warning device, to warn the general public that something oversized is coming towards them.
A few Good Skills to have:
Knowledge of maps
Public relations (you will deal with the general public on a daily basis)
Good Driving skills
Common Sense (without this - problems can arise)
High Level of Concentration
Keep a well maintained vehicle
Keep your insurance current- different states require different amounts of insurance; generally 1 million covers all states.
Keep your equipment up to code and in good working order
Don’t: Never take the driver or anyone else’s word on the height of a load
Do:Measure it yourself no matter what”
Don’t:Never leave without seeing the Permit
Do:Get a copy of the permit and understand your route before pulling out. It is your choice if the driver refuses to give you a permit, to refuse the load.
Do:Discuss with the driver what he wants you to call out BEFORE leaving.
Don’t:Do not be a LAZY escort in other words, if you have to flag, DO NOT flag from sitting inside your vehicle. Be at least 50 feet (never less) from your vehicle, and not between your vehicle and your load, when you have to get out to flag traffic.
Do:Take pride in your company and give the driver and the public what they deserve. Be courteous because you are in the public eye. You would be surprised at who is watching you. Give that above and beyond service that you are being well paid for to do.
RULE 1 - Escorts are not law enforcement nor do they have the same authority as law enforcement.
Do Not be crossing the middle line. (We understand sometimes it seems we must do something for safety sake to stop oncoming traffic. Stop your truck and get out with your stop/slow paddle, or wave your flag out the window.) Crossing the middle line is against the law, and can get you a fine from local law enforcement.
Remember that though we have responsibilities as an escort, and we have to perform dangerous maneuvers at times we still have to put our own safety as well as the general public’ safety forth most when out there on the roads.
RULE 2 - The most important duty of this job is “Communication”!!
Without paper communication, bad things happen.
Situations can be avoided through a few simple steps. Good Communication not only with the driver but with other escorts on the load is vital. Escort must tell the driver what she sees:
FRONT (Lead) ESCORTING
A good lead escort should give plenty of distance between her and the load to give plenty of time for the driver to maneuver; but should be careful to not get separated or too far ahead. (high-poles require more distance than regular escort vehicle.)
Objects / obstructions on road or shoulder - could hinder/damage the load or rear escort
Speed limit changes
Roadkill - remember: Bones can pierce a tire
Pieces of tire (“Gators”)
Pedestrians/Bicycles on roadway
Signs/Poles/Mailboxes close to roadway
STOP traffic ONLY if conditions require solo travel on roadway (narrowing)
Flagging must be done outside vehicle
The rear escort depends on the lead escort to tell them what’s ahead. It’s hard enough when there’s only one escort.
Stop unnecessary chatter until rear escort has “cleared” the load of the obstacle.
It’s NOT a good idea to call out law enforcement.
Your load should be running within the rule of law. If the cop has a CB radio, drawing attention to your load can create delays and hardship for the driver/escorts.
REAR (Chase) ESCORTING
The rear escort is in position to alert the driver of:
Vehicles passing the load
There is nothing more aggravating for your lead car than a rear escort who stays quiet. “COPY” and “CLEAR” everything your lead has called out.
Example: “Copy the pedestrian”
Example: “We’ve CLEARED the bridge”.
This way if the front escort is holding traffic he can continue on or let traffic continue. Everyone must communicate.
A Few Rear Escort Duties
Inform the driver of the load information about his load.(look for flats, be sure tie downs are secure or chains, tell the driver if something falls off the load)
Let the driver know if other vehicles are passing the driver.
Warn the driver or front escort when there is traffic build up behind the load.
Let the front escort know when obstacles are cleared by the oversize load.
Help the oversize load in making lane changes when they are needed to be made.
HIGH POLE ESCORTING
** We RECOMMEND 1 to 1.5 years of escorting experience before running a high pole. High poling involves high liability of the load you are escorting.
If you’re a High Pole operator; it’s vital that you meet with your driver and all others involved on the move before rolling out.
Example: “If I say STOP! STOP!”, and you do not STOP we have a failure to communicate therefore I am going to pull over with my 4 ways on and that also means STOP! STOP!”
You must have some sort of plan that everyone agrees with before the big move.
If failure to communicate
If communication is lost
A back up channel on the CB radio in case the channel you are talking on becomes congested. You may ask why we say “STOP STOP” and it is simple. We suggest using a word before whatever you are about to say consistently because the first word you say on your microphone does not always transmit from your cb radio.
Example: It’s Clear - All Clear (Put a word in front of the clear so that if one word is lost they still can hear clear)
It is always a good idea to have a meeting with everyone involved no matter if it is a Lead/Chase operation or High-Pole, Steer-man duties or whatever the job so that you are all on the same page before you leave. Make sure you tell your driver to keep his proper distance from you when high-poling or he will not have enough time to stop if you hit something.
”Safety is not an Accident!”
When things are done with safety in mind, then accidents are more likely NOT to happen.
Another thing I suggest when dealing with Truck drivers is to know their NAME and get used to their voice especially in convoys. For example when warning your driver of some obstacle, call out his name when you key up the radio to speak to him: “4 up Fred” or “18 Back Fred” or whatever you may be relaying to the driver so he knows you are talking to him.
As a P/EVO you will need to be able to drive for hours on end.
Sometimes you will have to stay in Hotels, if an escort doesn't get much rest; they could be unsafe to escort the oversize load the next day.
Understand this is a dangerous job that involves quick thinking, quick lane changes, dealing with other drivers on a daily basis. You will have to learn to drive aggressively at times and then passively at other times.
If you have never escorted before we suggest you find an escort that is already established and ride with them first to see what this type of work is about.
Make every trip out there a learning experience, learning something new every day is what helps you to grow and become a better professional. We have learned lots over the years, from different escorts.
A Few Front Escort Duties:
Relay to the driver and any trailing escorts what obstacles are ahead of them. (turns, signs, lines, cars on shoulders, narrow bridges, people walking down the street, anything that can harm the general public or the load, slow moving vehicles)
Warn oncoming traffic in a safe manner that something oversize is coming their way.
Stop traffic when the need arises. (while making turns, when flagging on the side of the road)
Look for safe places to pull over when the need arises
Safety Is Vital!No matter how big or small, safety is what escorting is all about. When you leave with your load from the pickup location, have your High Visibility (Ansi Class 2 or Higher) safety vest already on! That way if something happens and you have to jump out of your vehicle right away, then you are prepared.
Have your stop slow paddle within reach and a hand held CB so that you can communicate with the driver or other escort to flag traffic if you have to!