What to Expect With Over Dimensional Freight

08/24/2018 — Leah Palnik

Over dimensional freight: what to expect

When you’re preparing an over dimensional freight shipment, the number of restrictions and factors to account for can be overwhelming. One mistake can have costly consequences to your bottom line and transit times. However, knowing what to expect when you’re getting your shipment ready will help ensure everything goes smoothly.

One of the reasons it can be challenging to set up an over dimensional shipment is that each state has different legal requirements you have to adhere to. However, there are some common categories that many states have restrictions around:

  • Travel time. Many states will restrict the hours that your carrier can be on the road when transporting an over dimensional shipment. Generally, travel is restricted to daylight hours (one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset), which reduces your available time on the road, especially in the winter months when the days are shorter. Some states may also restrict transport during rush hour for major cities, depending on the size of your shipment. You will also need to factor in if you will be shipping close to a major holiday when travel can be restricted both the day of and the day before.
  • Escort vehicles. Depending on the states your cargo is traveling through, your carrier may be required to use escort vehicles, also known as pilot vehicles. These vehicles serve a couple different purposes. They help to warn other vehicles on the road and they can check for low hanging wires, bridges, or any other road hazard the truck may encounter. How many escort vehicles you need in the front and/or back will be determined by your shipment characteristics and the states it’s traveling through.
  • Route surveys. Safety is a major concern when shipping over dimensional freight. Route surveys are required by some states for certain oversized shipments to help ensure the safety of the load, to prevent public property damage, and protect motorists. During route surveys, a pilot vehicle will go through the exact shipment route proposed to document any potential obstructions or hazards like tight turns or low bridges.
  • Safety equipment. Depending on your shipment dimensions, flags and lights may be required on the tractor, trailer, and/or the escort vehicles. This helps with visibility for other motorists on the road. You will typically see red or orange flags and amber lights used.

When shipping over dimensional freight you not only have to follow the state restrictions, but it’s also a requirement to obtain permits from each state your freight passes through. The permits will include information like your shipment dimensions, what you’re shipping, and the origin and destination. It will also spell out the conditions that need to be met as far as safety equipment, escort vehicles, and restricted times. It’s important to note that there are fees for the permits which vary depending on the state.

While there is a lot that goes into planning for an over dimensional load, much of the responsibility falls on the carrier. The carrier creates the suggested route and submits it to the states to obtain the needed permits. The carrier also makes the arrangements for escort vehicles and other safety equipment.

As the shipper, your main concern should be providing the most detailed information possible so everything with the planning process goes smoothly. When requesting a quote, first and foremost, you will need to have your dimensions. The length, width, height, and weight will all determine what kind of state requirements you will need to follow. You will also want to provide information about your commodity including the model number, the serial number, value, and description. On top of that, it’s a good idea to include information about how it will be loaded and unloaded.

Due to the nature of over dimensional freight, you will need to get a quote at least two weeks prior to when you need the load moved. All of the pieces that contribute to moving an over dimensional load take time to secure. These restrictions also affect your transits times. You can estimate 50 miles per hour to travel, but add a cushion to account for route changes or other unforeseen issues.

You can also expect to pay more than what you would with a typical load, with line items for permits, escorts, and an over dimensional surcharge. All of these extra steps take time and cost money, so your quote will be calculated accordingly.

Working with a freight broker is the best way to ensure you’re receiving a competitive price for your shipment. A quality broker will know what questions to ask so that everything is done efficiently and every factor that could affect your shipment is accounted for ahead of time. Contact PartnerShip for your next over dimensional load!

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