New York Pilot Cars / Escort Vechicle Requirements

When escort vehicles are required:

a) No escort vehicles are required for oversized loads less than 12 feet wide, 80 feet long and 14 feet high. However if the vehicle is a slow moving vehicle, or bridge speed restriction are required or where the overhang is greater than 10 feet then escorts will be required.

b) A front escort vehicle will be required for travel on all two-lane highways when the width of the vehicle/load exceeds 12 feet wide, and/or 80 feet long and/or height of 14 feet or greater, or where the overhang is greater than 10 feet. For overheight vehicles, the front escort must be equipped with a height pole which is 3 inches higher than the overall height of the permitted vehicle/load.

c) A rear escort vehicle is required for travel on highways of more than two-lanes when vehicle/load is greater than 12 feet wide, 80 feet long or greater, or if the vehicle is a slow moving vehicle, or bridge speed restrictions are required, or where the overhang is greater than 10 feet. 

d) Two escort vehicles are required for travel whenever the vehicle/load meet the criteria b and c above dictate a front and rear escort.

e) Three escort vehicles (two front, one rear) are required for travel whenever the vehicle/load is over 16 feet wide on two-lane highways, 18 feet wide or greater on four-lane highways, or 100 feet long or greater on two-lane highways, 160 feet long or greater on four-lane highways. If the vehicle/load is 160 feet long or greater and is traveling only on interstate highways, only two escorts will be required.

f) Escorts may be required if the roadway geometry or other circumstances dictate.

g) Each oversize/overweight vehicle/load requires its own escort vehicle(s) when escort is required. Escort vehicle(s) must maintain adequate distance in front or/behind the unit (approximately 1,000 feet) to warn motorists of the oversize load. For escort vehicles that are required to have a height pole, the distance in front of the permitted load shall be 3,000 feet to allow for adequate stopping distance.

h) All escort vehicle drivers and the oversize load driver must be in constant communications at all times.

i) When an OVERDIMENSIONAL movement is routed upon any highway which is too marrow for two-way travel at all points, the lead escort vehicle shall advance to a point where two-way traffic can be maintained, stopping oncoming traffic at that location. When the load reaches the location where traffic is stopped, the overdimensional unit shall halt and allow traffic to clear from both directions, assistance being given by the escort driver. The lead escort vehicle shall then advance to the next point for stopping traffic. 

j) Traffic shall not be detained for more than 10 minutes.

Escort Driver Certification Required

Certification as ab escort driver is mandatory regardless of their residency who escort overdimensional loads with a width that exceeds 12 feet, and/or length of 80 feet or more and/or height of 14 feet or greater, whenever a vehicle can’t maintain highway speeds, there is an overhang of 10 feet or more or where there is a bridge speed restrictions. 

Police Escorts

Police escorts, in addition to certified escorts, are required whenever the vehicle/load is of such dimension or weight or special conditions exist where the addition of a police escort is deemed necessary by the permitting agency. The following size and weight will require police escorts:

1) Vehicle/load exceeds only the length of: 

  • 140 feet on two-lane highways.
  • 200 feet on multi-lane highways.

2) Vehicle/load exceeds the width of 16 feet on two-lane highways and 18 feet or greater on four-lane highways.

3) The vehicle/load exceeds 200,000 pounds or the vehicle must cross the centerline of a structure.

4) The overall height of the vehicle/load is 16 feet or greater.

Escort Vehicle Requirements

Size and Identification

a) Size

Escort vehicles shall have a minimum wheelbase of at least 100 inches unless otherwise authorized by the Department of Transportation.

Any vehicle used as an escort which is a 1997 or newer model year must have a minimum 100 inch wheelbase unless such vehicle is a utility vehicle approved by the Department of Transportation. 

b) Identification

Each vehicle shall be identified by a proper insignia as mandated by the Department of Transportation. 

There shall be two insignias per car, one on the driver’s side door and one on the front passenger’s side door. The insignia may be attached to the vehicle as a magnetized sign, a peel and stick sign or be painted. 

Mandatory equipment

Whenever escort vehicles are required, the following equipment is needed for each escort vehicle.

1) The escort vehicle shall be in safe operating condition and capable of displaying signs and other warning devices:

Warning lights: warning lights for escort vehicles shall be located on the roof of the vehicle perpendicular to the length of the escort vehicle.

The warning light bar shall be a minimum of 43 inches and a maximum of 52 inches long, a minimum of 10 inches and a maximum of 13 inches wide and a minimum of 4 inches with a maximum of 8 inches high, consisting of flashing or strobe lights. Each warning light bar shall consist of a minimum of four lights.

If flashing lights are used they shall consist at least two 95 and two 150 minimum FPM rotators, mirrors shall be placed diagonally between lights (mirrors to be reflective on both sides).

All lights shall be visible on a 360 degree basis from the vehicle for a distance of 1,000 feet and arranged with at least two lights in each end of the bar light. The dome cover color shall be amber. 

Signs: Warning signs shall be at least 5 feet long and 12 inches high. Letters shall be at least 8 inches in height. The sign shall be mounted on the front and rear or on the roof of the escort vehicle. If mounted on the front or rear, the sign shall not obstruct vehicle identification (licence plate) warning lights and other safety devices. If mounted on the roof, the sign must not interfere with the view of the light bar and legend “ OVERSIZE LOAD” must be printed on both sides of the sign.

2) All exterior vehicle lights must be turned on during escort operations.

3) A two-way radio that meets Federal Communication Commission standards is required in each escort vehicle.

4) A cellular telephone is required in either the escort vehicle or the permitted load vehicle.

5) Three emergency triangles and/or flares.

6) Three emergency flares for permitted night moves.

7) A fluorescent orange vest with certified escort insignia on left chest of vest.

8) A stop paddle.

9) Two 18 inch by 18 inch red or fluorescent orange flags on staffs.

10) A class 5BC or larger rated fire extinguisher.

11) Every front escort shall have a measuring device attached to the vehicle when escorting a overheight load. If two front escorts are required, only one escort is required to have such a measuring device. 


Source of information: https://www.dot.ny.gov/nypermits/repository/escort.pdf 

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