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When oversized or wide loads need to be transported from one place to another the truck carrying the load will be escorted by one or more wide-load escort vehicles. A wide load that needs an escort is usually any load that is wider than 8 feet 6 inches or anything taller than 13 feet 6 inches. Escort vehicles are often called pilot cars. When escorting tall loads, the escort vehicle is called a pole car, and is equipped with poles to ensure the cargo doesn't get snagged on overhead wires.
The escort driver works with the driver of the truck as a team. Depending on the load and the roads being traveled, more than one escort vehicles may accompany the load, with one in front and one behind. Drivers are usually expected to work away from home, depending on where the cargo is going. Vehicles are usually equipped with flashing lights, bright flags and a CB radio for communication with the truck driver and other escorts.
Escort drivers perform an important function as they make the road safer for the load driver and other motorists, prevent damage to the load and to roadway infrastructure. While state laws and company policies vary, drivers generally need at least a valid driver's license and be capable of passing a state department of transportation physical.
Escort drivers earn an average of $56,000 a year. and may be paid by the mile, which can range from 41 cents to 52 cents per mile. The top 10 percent of drivers make over $100,000, while the bottom 10 percent earn less than $30,000. Salaries for wide load escort drivers vary widely from state to state and can differ by as much as $20,000 a year.