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California Pilot Cars / Escort Vechicle Requirements

When Escort Vehicles required:


  • All loads over 12’ wide – 1 or 2 (depending on route)
  • Length over 85’ to 135’ (over 100’ in LA county and LA city) – 1 front/1 rear
  • Height polesare not a Caltrans requirement. If requested by a permittee, a pilot car will be permitted and identified as a permittee request.
  • Overhang (front or rear) 25’ or more – 1 pilot or more


Escort Vehicle Requirements

1. Responsibilities 

  • Pilot cars maintain communications with the escorted load via two-way radio communication device. 
  • Pilot cars maintain a safe distance from the escorted vehicle to allow both passing and warning for other traffic. 
  • Pilot cars accompany the escorted vehicle over all operational California Highway Patrol (CHP) scale and inspection facilities. 

2. Location 

If one pilot car is required, the pilot car precedes the escorted vehicle on two (one lane in each direction) or three-lane conventional roads (as indicated on pilot car maps for brown, blue and green routes). When a pilot car is required for rear overhang (i.e. more than 25' 0”), the pilot car will follow the escorted vehicle on all routes. The pilot car follows the escorted vehicle on conventional highways having four or more lanes, divided highways, and freeways. 

  • The maximum number of pilot cars, on yellow routes, is one until width exceeds 15'0”. 
  • If two pilot cars are required, one pilot car precedes, and the other follows the escorted vehicle. 
  • Pilot cars remain right of the centerline of the roadway at all times. 

3. Equipment Failure to comply with all regulations under law renders the vehicle and/or load out of service until all necessary repairs or additional equipment is obtained to meet said requirements. Regulations include, but are not limited to the following: 

  • Identification placards comply with the California Vehicle Code (CVC), Section 27904 
  • Warning signs comply with CVC 27904.5 and 35783.5 
  • Warning lights comply with CVC 25270 
  • Warning flags comply with CVC 28100 
  • Vertical Clearance measuring devices comply with CVC 28102 and 35252 
  • Additional requirements as outlined in CVC 28101 

4. Restrictions 

  • It is unauthorized for a pilot car to stop, pre-empt, or impede opposing traffic. 
  • It is unauthorized for a pilot car to tow another vehicle while escorting a load unless it is specifically stated on the face of the transportation permit or permit rider. 
  • It is unauthorized for pilot cars to escort more than one vehicle and/or load at one time unless specified on the face of the transportation permit or permit rider. 
  • It is unauthorized to display STOP/SLOW sign paddles from the window of a moving vehicle.


Source of information: https://dot.ca.gov/programs/traffic-operations/transportation-permits/faq 

www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/permits/pcmaps.htm 

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