First things first when starting a pilot car or truck escort business.
Pretty much every state is going to want you to register your business with a minimum of a DBA or “doing business as”. You may decide you would rather start a corporation or limited liability company. We suggest that you talk to an attorney about what entity is best for you as each persons circumstances are different. There are many factors to consider like taxes, marital status, joint incomes, the amount of money you bring into your household and of course liability. With a DBA you can get your pants sued off of you if you made a mistake or got someone hurt. With a corporation or LLC it would not be the corporate body bearing the responsibility of your actions. Once you have that figured out you can move on to getting your flaggers license and dealing with any state insurance and training qualifications that are required.
You’re going to need to learn how to lead or chase oversize loads.
No matter what the requirements are in your state or province one thing for sure is you are going to have to learn how to perform the job you are wanting to do. There are a lot of rules and regulations governing exactly how oversize loads are dealt with. Whether or not you are leading through an area or you are following them through an area. Each state has different requirements. How many lanes are on the road you will be traveling? How wide is the shipment? These variables determine if a pilot car is in the “lead” position (front) or in the “chase” position (rear) of the shipment they are escorting. Height is another issue. If a shipment is too tall (14′ is a good average number) then a pilot car vehicle will need to be equipped with a “high pole” or height pole. This pole is attached to the front of the pilot car or escort vehicle and adjusted either 6″ (in some states) or 12″ (in other states”) over the actual height of the shipment that is being transported. If the height pole hits any obstructions from bridges to power lines the pilot car operator is required to immediately notify the driver of the truck the shipment is loaded on and the transport driver must pull over to asses the situation to make certain the obstruction is not hit.
What do I need to start a pilot car service or business?
Assuming you have the things we’ve talked about above; appropriate vehicle, business license, a traffic control certificate or “flaggers license” and ability to get additional insurance coverage if required in your state as well as have an understanding of the terms “lead” and “chase”. You must be a least 18 with a valid drivers license. Done the research for the state your reside in (at minimum) so you know what is considered a “wideload” or “oversize load” (anything over 102″ wide or over 13′ 7″ tall in most states). Researched the minimum and maximum distances pilot cars, escorts (lead or chase) are the remain from the shipment as well as any other additional certification requirements (such as New Mexico) just to name one then you are ready to start compiling a required equipment list. Some states appear to not have fully evolved yet when it comes to equipment as they have just a few equipment requirements. If you live in one of these states we highly suggest you look at other states that are tougher on equipment and pattern your pilot car company off of them. Is it more expensive? Yes. Why? Because your job as a pilot car company operator is to protect motorists. Peoples lives are at risk. You want to make sure you are prepared for every situation that could possibly come up which means you need a full quiver of equipment and not only that but you need the absolute best equipment you can buy. You will find if you by cheap equipment for your pilot car company start up business that you will only have to go spend more money to go an buy it again. Not only that but when your cheap equipment fails at that very moment you are putting other peoples lives at danger. Not only that but you are putting your brand new start up company in danger because if someone does get hurt because you bought cheap equipment you could be liable for your negligence. Be smart and do it right. Get the best equipment available the first time so you are not endangering the general public or having to spend your hard earned money on something that will fail you. We suggest all pilot car company operators have a minimum of the items listed in the next paragraph.
Start up and existing pilot car company required equipment list.
- 1 professional mileage book with room for notations and 1 journal book. Keep good logs and summary daily.
- 5 – 36″ orange road cones with two strips of safety reflective tape at the top.
- 5 – 12″ orange road cones (day use) with at least one safety reflective strip at top just in case (night use).
- 1 – safety colored yellow or orange reflective safety jacket and 2 reflective safety vests.
- 8 roadside reflective triangles no less than 16″ tall.
- 1 dozen up to date flammable safety road flares. Write expire date in journal book for later reference.
- 4 red safety colored flags no less than 18″ square on 1/2″ wooden dowels.
- 2 yellow signs reading “Oversize Load” no less than 12″ tall x 5′ wide with lettering 10″ tall and 1 5/8″ thick.
- 1 – 2-way radio. We suggest a high quality CB radio with very high quality antenna.
- 2 fire extinguishers. 1 – 2.5 lb and 1 – 5 lb dry chemical type or higher rating.
- 1 safety colored red or fluorescent hard hat with reflective safety tape.
- 1 very good all inclusive first aid kit. The more you spend the better. Familiarize yourself with everything.
- Stop/Slow safety paddle sign no less that 24″ the same shape as a stop sign with a 5′ handle.
- 2 flashlights that run on a minimum of 2 DC batteries with extra batteries.
- 1 heavy duty set of jumper cables. The best pair you can find.
- 1 jump box with charge meter indicating level of charge. A jump box is an external battery for starting vehicles.
- Chains for all 4 wheels of your vehicle for snow covered passes or iced roads.
- 2 two way radios fully charged with 2 fully charged batteries.
- 1 GPS with good up to date quality mapping software that allows you to create way-points.
Once you have the equipment in place it’s time to start thinking about taking a class or learning the rules and regulations that your state has in reference to escorting oversize loads. As discussed briefly above you will still have to deal with insurance requirements as well as some other certifications that are required by states as well. Join us as we continue to explore the requirements of starting a pilot car company continued.