August 16, 2023

Heavy Hauling: What You Need to Know

Heavy hauling or heavy haul trucking is a specialized form of transportation that requires the movement of oversized, overweight, or otherwise large loads, often with the help of a pilot car. The heavy hauling industry is growing at a quick rate nowadays, even in the Post-Covid days. We will cover some of the things that go on throughout the heavy haul process including the equipment required, regulations, and axles. Knowing this information can save you a lot od headaches during your heavy haul project.

Equipment needed:

The first step in heavy haul trucking is making sure you have the right equipment for the specific load. For clarification, this is something that the trucking company will use. Certain equipment is required to transport oversized loads safely and efficiently. This equipment includes:

  • Lowboy Trailers - These trailers have a low profile and can haul loads up to 12 feet tall. These are used for bigger items such as bulldozers, excavators, etc.
  • Step Deck Trailers - Step deck trailers have a drop in the deck, allowing them to carry taller loads than a standard flatbed. They are ideal for transporting oversized loads such as wind turbines, bridge sections, and other tall items.
  • Flatbed Trailers - Flatbed trailers have no sides or roofs, making them ideal for transporting oversized loads that cannot fit in a standard enclosed trailer. These trailers can haul loads up to 48 feet long and 8.5 feet wide.
  • Extendable Trailers - These trailers are long and can extend to be even longer. These trailers are up to 80 feet in length and can haul loads up to 100 feet long. They are ideal for transporting long items such as bridge sections, oil rigs, and wind turbines. These are likely to be considered super loads.

Heavy Hauling Regulations:

Heavy hauling is a highly regulated industry, and it is important to understand the rules and avoid costly fines. These fines can be very steep. So try not to cut corners because they could wind up being very costly. These are things that both the oversize escort and the trucking companies need to worry about.

Pilot cars are also needed when the width of the load exceeds the width of the lane or the height of the load exceeds the height of any overhead obstacles, such as bridges, power lines, or overpasses. When the length of the load exceeds a certain limit, typically 80 or 100 feet, a pilot car may be required to accompany the vehicle to help guide it through turns and intersections. If you want to know more about when pilot cars are necessary please check out our last blog.

Ultimately, the specific requirements for when pilot cars are needed can vary by jurisdiction and depend on the size, weight, and dimensions of the load being transported. Let's touch on the regulations that you will need to be knowledgeable about for the heavy hauling industry.

The regulations include:

  • Permits: Oversized loads require special permits to be transported on public roads. Heavy hauling permits and regulations can be a bit tricky, so it's best to let the professionals handle it for you. These permits are issued by state and federal transportation departments and must be obtained before transport. Muthers Inc. has you covered for any permits you may need. Whether it's NYS, NYC, NJ, MA, or wherever else we can help you out. Contact us here if you have any questions.
  • Weight Restrictions: Oversized loads are subject to weight restrictions, and it is essential to ensure your load falls within the weight limits for each state you will be traveling through.
  • Escort Requirements: Oversized loads may require the use of escorts to ensure safe transport. Double-check your requirements. The requirements change from state to state. In addition to the state requirements, the number of escorts required varies depending on the size and weight of the load. If you want to know more about the specifics please check our blog for bi-weekly updates!

How heavy hauling goes down:

In addition to understanding the equipment and regulations, there are also several best practices to follow to ensure safe and efficient heavy hauling.

  • Planning: Proper planning is critical to ensure safe and efficient transport. Planning usually includes determining the best route, obtaining the necessary permits, and ensuring the proper equipment is available. This is something that you don't need to do, just give Muthers Inc. a call and we'll figure out the issues.
  • Securing the Load: Proper load securement is essential to prevent the load from shifting or falling during transport. This includes the use of straps, chains, and other securement devices. This is something that the trucking company will worry about, not the pilot car service.
  • Communication: Effective communication is critical to ensure safe and efficient transport. This includes communication between the driver, escorts, and any other parties involved in the transport. Typically, the pilot car driver will touch base with the truck driver via cell phone and then during the trip through CB radio.

Let's talk about axles:

When it comes to the heavy hauling industry, the ultimate determinant of your lawful load capacity is the axles - whether you are driving a flat deck, step deck, or double-drop it's important understanding axle weight limits and regulations. Both federal and state legislation, weight limits are established for over-dimensional loads, based on the type and number of axles, as well as the characteristics of the roadway. The cardinal rule is that the more axles you add, the more weight you can bear - which is precisely why the equipment for this specialized niche of trucking comes equipped with 5 up to 20 axle configurations. The location of an axle, how closely they are clustered together, and the particular role they play all play a decisive role in determining the weight that they are legally authorized to shoulder.

Keep in mind that per-axle weight limitations may change slightly depending on the state and the type of road in question, but here are some general guidelines based on overall federal restrictions. Let's go over some of the more common types of axle configurations for heavy haul truckings you will see being used.

  • Steer axles: Weight limit 12,000 pounds - The axles on the truck and some trailers are called steer axles, and it is important to note that they are not legally permitted to carry more than 12,000 pounds.
  • Single axles: Weight limit 20,000 pounds - Whenever a trailer has a solitary axle at the front or rear, that single axle can only support a maximum of 20,000 pounds, as stipulated by federal law. Trucks with multiple axles, if the axles are positioned more than ten feet apart, are considered single axles and therefore are legally rated for a maximum of 20,000 pounds.
  • Tandem axles: Weight limit 34,000 pounds - Tandem axles consist of two sets of wheels placed closely together. Whenever tandem axles are discussed, we are generally referring to the axles at the back of the trailer, although on a step or double-step, you might also spot tandem axles situated close to the lip of the step. As far as federal law goes, they cannot support more than 34,000 pounds.

If you're still interested in learning more about the axle limits and how they determine these numbers check out this link from

At Muthers Inc., we are proud to be a leading provider of heavy haul trucking services, and we understand the intricacies of the industry better than most. Whatever you need to transport whether it's oversized loads or specialized equipment we have the knowledge, expertise, and resources to get you where you're going. Contact us today if you need any assistance!

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One comment on “Heavy Hauling: What You Need to Know”

  1. Thanks for the reminder that I should also be mindful of the weight limits when planning to get heavy equipment hauling services. I want to be more acquainted with that kind of logistical service because I will be getting a new home build soon. Being able to know how to move equipment from place to place will surely be important to consider.

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