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Minnesota Pilot Cars / Escort Vechicle Requirements

When escort vehicles are required: 

In general, OSOW travel is not restricted up to 14’6” wide; 110’0” long; 16’0” high, unless noted otherwise on the permit.

Over 14’6” wide, 110’ long, 16’ high: Lead and rear certified pilot car escorts on 2-lane (non-divided) roadways. Rear certified pilot car escort on multi-lane (divided) roadways.

Escort: When escorts are required the escort vehicle must display “Wide Load” or “Long Load” signs along with amber warning lights visible from a distance of no less than 500 feet. An escort vehicle may be a passenger car, van, SUV, or pickup truck in safe and proper operating condition. The escort vehicle cannot tow another vehicle while escorting. Radio communication between the permitted vehicle and escort vehicle is required. An escort driver must be at least 18 years of age and possess a valid driver’s license. The escort driver cannot perform any other function when conducting escorting duties (i.e. cannot act as a tiller man for a rear steer trailer). 

Pilot/Escort Vehicle Signing Requirements

Sign requirements on pilot/escort vehicles are as follows:

  • A pilot/escort vehicle must display an "OVERSIZE LOAD" sign mounted on the top of the vehicle. This sign must be displayed so that it is visible to both overtaking and oncoming traffic at all times during the pilot/escort operation. The sign must be clearly readable and legible at all times of operation. Bumper-mounted signs only are prohibited on the pilot/escort vehicle.
  • The sign must be a rigid mount and (1) be a minimum of five feet in width, (2) have ten inches of vertical visible surface space, and (3) display black letters that are eight inches in height and have a one-inch brush stroke on a solid yellow surface. Solid is defined as when being viewed from the front or rear at a 90-degree angle to the sign, no light can transmit through the solid surface.
  • Red/orange 18-inch flags must be mounted in line with the "Oversize Load" sign and mounted at approximately a 45-degree angle toward the sides of the pilot/escort vehicle.
  • Signs and flags must be removed or covered when pilot/escorts are not providing services.
  • If a route survey is being performed by the pilot/escort, the "Oversize Load" sign must be removed or covered. Route surveys may not be performed while escorting an overdimensional load.
  • A sign, light, or flag may not extend more than six inches beyond the widest part of the body of the pilot/escort vehicle.

Pilot/Escort Vehicle Lighting Requirements

The pilot/escort vehicle, in addition to any other equipment required by the traffic laws, must be equipped with at least one flashing yellow or amber light. These lights must be mounted on the top of the pilot/escort vehicle and visible for 360 degrees for all traffic. Two types of approved lighting are described as follows:

  1. Two AAMVA/SAE/USDOT-approved yellow or amber, flashing or oscillating, strobe lights must be used with one mounted on each side of the top-mounted sign. These lights must be visible for 360 degrees, illuminated at all times during operation, and visible from a minimum distance of 500 feet under normal atmospheric conditions.
  2. An AAMVA/SAE/USDOT-approved yellow or amber, flashing or oscillating, strobe beacon light bar must be used, mounted on top of the pilot/escort vehicle. The light bar must have a minimum of two lights within the housing of the light bar. The light bar must be unobstructed and visible for 360 degrees.

"AAMVA/SAE/USDOT" refers to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the United States Department of Transportation.

Incandescent, strobe, or diode (LED) lights may be used if they meet the first criteria.

A light is defined as a single housing.

Pilot/Escort Flagging Requirements

During the movement of an overdimensional load, the pilot/escort driver, in the performance of the flagging duties required by this chapter, may control and direct traffic to stop, slow, or proceed in any situation when deemed necessary to protect the motoring public from the hazards associated with the movement of the overdimensional load. The pilot/escort driver, acting as a flagger, may aid the overdimensional load in the safe movement along the highway designated on the overdimensional load permit and shall:

  • assume the proper flagger position outside the pilot/escort vehicle and, as a minimum standard, have in use the necessary safety equipment as defined in section 6E.1 of the MUTCD;
  • use "STOP" or "SLOW" paddles or a 24-inch red/orange square flag to indicate emergency situations, and other equipment as described in section 6E.1 of the MUTCD; and
  • comply with the flagging procedures and requirements in the MUTCD and the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Minnesota Flagging Handbook.

Escort pilot cars drivers must be trained and certified by the MN State Patrol, or possess a valid certification from another state that MN has reciprocity with. For more information, visit 

Source of information: 

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