Heavy Hauling

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    Heavy haul trucking requires a particular skill set. Only the best company can successfully execute safe and efficient heavy hauling. Industries worldwide require heavy haul trucking to move oversized and overweight products, raw materials, and equipment to their final destination. Workers haul these heavy objects across state lines or international borders under harsh weather conditions and restricted budgets. Here’s a comprehensive guide to heavy haul trucking and must-remember safety tips:

    Heavy Haul Trucking

    Heavy-duty trucks comprise robust commercial vehicles required for executing various commercial activities, including transporting, construction, etc. Heavy haul trucking refers to the transportation of oversized items, such as military, machinery, construction, or farming materials or equipment. Since trucking involves transporting heavy loads, the shipments require special handling and must adhere to different state laws.

    What Counts as a ‘Heavy Load’?

    A ‘heavy load’ varies from one state to another. However, the federal government defines ‘heavy load’ as cargo that goes above:

    • 80,000 pounds of gross vehicle weight
    • 34,000 pounds of tandem axle weight
    • 20,000 pounds of single axle weight
    • 6 widths
    • 6 heights
    • 48 to 53 feet length

    To avoid structural damages to bridges, the Federal Highway Administration calculates the number and spacing of axles by using the following formula:

    W=500(LN/N-1 + 12N + 36)

    W is the overall gross weight of the axles

    L is the distance (in feet) between two or more groups of consecutive axels

    N is the number of axles in a particular group

    Are There Any Restrictions for Heavy-Hauling?

    Heavy-haul or oversized trucking requires specific documentation, permitting, and regulations. Fleet managers must obtain the proper permits before allowing drivers to move heavy cargo.

    Different cities, states, and counties have various restrictions on a heavy-haul truck can travel for a day. They may also define during what hours your oversized freight can move.

    Moreover, depending on the material and equipment you’re shipping, states may require you to get additional permits.

    In addition, the Federal Law limits the total weight your truck can carry based on a per-axle basis:

    Drive Axles- No more than 34,000 pounds

    Single Axels- Up to 20,000 pounds

    Steer Axles- Approximately 12,000 pounds

    Tandem Axles- Up to 34,000 pounds

    If your company plans to transport shipments across state lines, ensure you learn the rules and regulations of both states.

    Heavy Haul Trucking Permits to Obtain

    Heavy haul trucking involves specific permits and documentation to meet transportation rules and regulations. Here are certain special restrictions to remember when transporting oversized freight:

    • Seasonal Travel Restrictions
    • Holiday and Weekend Restrictions
    • Operating Hours
    • Time Allowed to Move

    How Do You Prepare Your Oversized or Overweight Equipment for Shipping?

    Ensure safe and efficient heavy haul or oversized trucking by preparing beforehand. Here are a few tasks you must undertake to speed up the process of shipping heavy equipment:

    Grabbing the Right Documentation

    Keep equipment measurements and relevant manuals for easy reference while loading and transporting oversized load shipments.

    Preparing the Equipment

    Ensure the safety of the drivers and equipment by tightening loose parts, draining fluids, removing batteries, and identifying factors that require protection from environmental elements.

    Creating the Ideal Shipment Space

    Before sending your driver on the road, clear the space around the equipment of debris and moveable obstacles.

    How Can You Start Heavy Haul Trucking?

    Heavy-haul loading is a lucrative sub-niche of the shipping market. However, starting and growing a successful trucking business requires the following:

    • Choosing and analyzing the target market
    • Calculating heavy-haul rates per mile
    • Curating a successful business plan
    • Determining and meeting stringent legal requirements
    • Finding an appropriate business funding
    • Buying and insuring the necessary assets
    • Preparing the perfect shipment space
    • Finding and training qualified truckers
    • Streamlining fleet processes
    • Upskilling your truckers and expanding your clientele

    Things to Remember when Heavy Haul Trucking

    Heavy haul trucking requires particular skill, knowledge, and preparation. Whether you’re transporting oversized cargo across state or county lines, you’re bound to face multiple challenges. Combat heavy haul trucking issues and avoid setbacks by preparing beforehand and using the following tips:

    Understanding the Scope of Your Heavy Haul Load

    Understanding the ins and outs of your heavy haul or oversized trucking cargo helps avoid potential setbacks. It involves learning the tiniest details, such as:

    • Travel Route and Distance
    • Heavy Haul Load Weight
    • Precise Load Dimensions

    Knowing these specific details early on helps you plan project logistics accurately. For instance, learning the dimensions and weight of your load enables you to determine the required equipment. You can prepare your budget and schedule armed with this data. Mapping out your project requirements beforehand ensures safer and more efficient transport.

    Selecting the Right Trailer

    When it comes to heavy haul trucking, businesses can enjoy choosing from various trailer types, like dual lane, self-propelled, modular, etc. Choosing the right trailer impacts the success of heavy hauling and the safety of the drivers and equipment. Moreover, selecting the perfect truck helps ensure minimal setbacks and seamless delivery.

    You must consider factors when selecting the right trailer:

    • Cost and Time Efficiency
    • Driving Safety
    • Load Specifications
    • Road Conditions
    • Type of Cargo

    Mapping Out Your Route

    Creating a comprehensive map of your heavy haul or oversized trucking route ensures your shipping success. Timing and route selection significantly affect the ease and time required for the haul to reach its destination.

    When mapping out your heavy haul route, consider the following factors:

    • High Traffic Times
    • Local Restrictions Applicable at Certain Roads or Times
    • Possible Road Construction Sites
    • Potentially Congested Traffic Area
    • Toll Roads
    • Traffic Restricts
    • Weather Calamities

    Remember, these key factors can impact your trip cost and time. Moreover, there’s always a chance of unexpected events inhibiting travel, so consider creating a backup route plan.

    Researching Pickup and Drop Off Sites

    An overlooked yet essential detail of safe and successful heavy hauling is researching the pickup and drop-off locations. Learning the features of your initial and final sites can help you prepare for the different states of hauling appropriately. Heavy haul or oversized trucking requires robust cranes, specialized rigging equipment, and heavy-duty forklifts to load and unload cargo. Planning for pick up and drop off ensures you choose the appropriate lifting equipment without exceeding your budget and schedule limitations.

    Securing the Loads

    Ensure you distribute the load appropriately before the trailer leaves the site. Securing over-dimensional, oversized, or overweight equipment impacts the safety of the cargo and driver and productivity of the project. In addition, improperly secured equipment loads can lead to severe injuries, property damage, and even loss of life.

    Following Regulatory Requirements

    The rules and regulations of heavy hauling can change when you cross state or country lines. So, you must consider the rules and regulations of different sites when mapping your travel route. Moreover, avoid hefty fines and fees by reviewing your local, state, and federal regulations governing heavy haul trucking.

    Getting the Appropriate Heavy Haul Permits

    Using heavy haul trucking equipment legally requires specific permits. Whether you plan to cross state lines, you must abide by their rules by obtaining the required licenses. Consider speaking with local officials about permits before sending your drivers on the road.

    Working with a Reputable Heavy Hauling Company

    Successful heavy haul trucking requires an in-depth understanding of project requirements and planning. Ensuring you obtain proper permits and choose the correct route requires you to partner with industry experts that have knowledge and experience.

    Here are traits you should seek in heavy haul trucking to save time and stress:

    • Commitment to Safety
    • Honest and Integrity
    • Quality Service

    Safety Tips for Transporting Oversized or Overweight Load

    The success of your heavy haul trucking project depends on how well you map out the route and prepare beforehand. Consider following these safety tips to ensure the safety of the cargo and drivers:

    Choosing the Right Equipment

    Ensuring the success of heavy hauling projects starts by selecting and utilizing the ideal trailer. Here we discuss the top trailer types:

    Drop Deck Trailers- These trailers have a drop in the deck height wherein the upper part of the deck sits on the back of the tractor unit

    Extendable Drop Deck Trailer- Its design resembles that of a standard drop deck; however, its body can extend for long loads

    Gooseneck Trailer- Here, the trailer connects to the hauling unit with the help of a permanently attached modified bar

    Lowboy Trailer- It has two height drops in its deck and a maximum capacity of approximately 12 feet.

    Knowing the Weather

    Whether drivers use their smartphones or turn on their radios, they must always be up-to-date with local weather and upcoming changes. Fleet managers must reference and record the entire forecast before the drive. Moreover, drivers must monitor updates and changes in weather. Remember to avoid hauling heavy and oversized cargo in extreme weather conditions.

    Learning State-Specific Laws

    Laws surrounding oversized loads differ from one state to another. In most states, oversized loads require specialized pilot vehicles to escort the shipment. It means additional monitoring, considering potential hazards, and obtaining permits. In addition, shippers must consider the cost of accessories.

    Driving Defensively

    Drivers must focus on driving defensively and safely when hauling an oversized or overweight load. Keep in mind that driving safely does not necessarily mean moving slowly. Often, it’s safer to maintain the recommended speed limit and to remain in lanes dedicated for trucks. Your drivers should regularly check their speed and stop at a safe distance from other vehicles.

    Taking Time to Plan Your Route

    Before sending your drivers to the pickup and drop-off sites, ensure the route you want to use accommodates heavy hauling trucks. Moreover, consider construction when mapping out your route.

    Understanding Special Markings

    The size, type, and weight of your cargo determine the necessity of flags, banners, or lights required on your truck. Your pilot vehicle may also require specific marking. However, all this varies from one to the next.

    Following Proactive Maintenance

    Nobody wants their oversized haul to malfunction or break down in the middle of the road. To avoid this, drivers must carry out proactive maintenance on the fleet or vehicle.

    For this reason, it’s essential to follow basic maintenance. Start by ticking the following checklist:

    • Top up and Monitor Fluids
    • Check and Tighten Tires
    • Add Spare Parts and Gears

    Using the Right Securement

    When hauling heavy loads, you must keep each component or item locked down. The type of fastening device you choose depends on the load and gear and includes:

    • Ropes
    • Straps
    • Friction Mats
    • Binders

    Special Requirements of Heavy Haul Trucking

    Heavy haul trucking comprises tight deadlines, weather calamities, and careful route mapping. Successful oversized trucking often includes notable routes and power lines to lift cargo.

    Here we discuss the unique requirements of heavy hauling:

    Safety Flags

    Heavy haul trucks typically include fluorescent orange or red flags at the outermost corners to help other drivers gauge clearance.


    Some states require drivers to add rotating yellow LED lights on their heavy load trucks. Moreover, some state laws require you to replace safety flags with lights at night or in low visibility conditions.

    Escort Vehicles

    Escort vehicles travel with heavy-haul trucks depending on the following conditions:

    • Type of Load Hauled
    • Load Size
    • Route of Travel


    Heavy hauling trucks must place a yellow banner stating ‘oversized load’ on the front and back of their vehicle. Sometimes, drivers may replace it with a ‘wide load’ banner.


    The cost of heavy hauling can vary depending on the route and load dimensions. Permit fees typically include the size and weight of the transporting vehicle and run between several hundred dollars to a thousand. Whether your load requires escort vehicles and can drive during the weekends also impact the project’s overall cost.

    The Bottom Line

    Successful heavy-haul trucking starts by identifying risks and correcting inefficiencies. Using the right heavy hauling software and tools increases driver safety and productivity. Moreover, leveraging fleet managing and GPS tracking tech allows managers to track vehicle equipment in real-time. This way, they can gauge the safest route that helps improve customer experience.

    Read more about MWM’s heavy hauling expertise and services. We have a vetted group of sub-contractors and partnerships with various engineering and architectural firms for complete design-build applications.

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