When transporting cargo by land, it’s important to consider the size of the products or materials you’re going to be transporting. Going over certain measurements can increase the cost of the weight or cause costly inconveniences. Companies that typically use flatbeds to transport their oversized loads would benefit from knowing the following factors.
Legal limits on oversized loads
Each state in the United States has slightly different legal limits on the size and weight of oversized loads that can be shipped on flatbed trucks. These limits are relatively consistent but you should definitely learn about the specific limits in the states you’re planning to ship through or work with a shipping company that has knowledge and experience in the industry.
As a general rule, the maximum weight allowed is 46,000 pounds, the maximum width allowed is 8.5 feet, and the maximum height allowed is also 8.5 feet. There is more variation among state requirements about the maximum length allowed, which goes from 48 to 53 feet.
Know your cargo
To avoid trouble, you should not only consider the size and weight of your oversized load, but also its nature. First of all, maximum weight is determined by axle. So, your cargo might be within total weight but over the weight permitted per axle. Sometimes you can solve this problem by carefully re-distributing the weight of your cargo. Other times, you might be able to ship by obtaining a special permit. Certain materials that might be considered hazardous or dangerous could require permits as well.
Note that the chosen freight company will manage the permits. Nevertheless, they will not be able to obtain them if your cargo doesn’t comply with regulations or if your measurements or the load description are not accurate.
Find out if you need escorts for oversized loads
Very wide loads, typically over 12 feet wide, need escorts, also known as pilot vehicles. These vehicles help flatbed trucks with large cargoes to be noticed easily by other vehicles and to warn them of possible hazards. If you need escorts for your cargo, you will be responsible for the travel expenses related to the escort drivers.
Plan your delivery schedule
There are many factors that can affect the timing of your delivery. Wide loads with travel escorts are not allowed to drive before sunrise and after sunset in some states. Some roads will just not allow your load to go through and you’ll have to find an alternate route. Obtaining permits also takes time. Plan your delivery carefully so you don’t miss your client’s deadline.
Use special markings on oversized cargo if necessary
Flags and lights might be necessary and useful for the flatbed that is taking your load. These markings make it easier for other vehicles to see the flatbed and prepare for it. Since regular drivers have more mobility and wider view than a flatbed driver, it’s a good idea to give them plenty of warning to avoid accidents.