Pilot car industry ensures critical roadway safety

By Hannah Sundermeyer12 January 2021

Louis Juneau offers a candid look at the pilot car industry and why it’s so important to rigging a heavy haul.

Through ongoing partnerships with both government and private sector organizations, the specialized transportation and pilot car industry is leading by identifying and implementing necessary steps to ensure roadway safety critical to both the motoring public and the oversize loads escorts. Far too many pilot cars/drivers operating today, throughout North America, are largely under trained, under insured, under equipped and poorly managed.

Far too many pilot cars/drivers operating today are largely under trained, under insured, under equipped and poorly managed.  

Following is a brief summary of the current state of the pilot car industry, the initiatives intended to rectify safety concerns, and with the encouragement to support one or more of these efforts.

Federal and state governments. Steady momentum is building in an increasing number of states to both require and enforce pilot certification and the credentialing of both pilot drivers and escort vehicles.

Manufacturers and shippers. To reduce the occurrences of fatalities, incidents and to improve margins, 2021 will see enhanced safety-related training required by manufacturers of their carriers.

Specialized carriers. The increase in scrutiny and standards set by government and manufacturers alike will come as welcome news to a growing number of specialized carriers which are already requiring training, certification, insurance and managing performance and credentialing. Those carriers which are not operating at the same standard as their more safety-conscious peers, will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA). The tremendous leadership at SC&RA consistently brings specialized carriers and pilot companies to the table for meaningful collaboration. Positive outcomes (e.g., increased safety, understanding and mutual respect) occur when leaders from the specialized carrier and the pilot industries conduct ongoing and transparent discussions.

North American Pilot Vehicle Safety Alliance (NAPVSA). NAPVSA brings together diverse groups of officials, representing both the public and private sectors, who all have a vested interest in improving safety through certification, credentialing, training and proper insurance.

National Pilot Car Association (NPCA). NPCA is the first legitimate pilot industry trade association with demonstrative successes in collaborating with both public and private sectors, advocating for improved training, proper insurance and improved safety.

Pit Row Group/ProMiles/Evergreen Safety Council. A private sector partnership which offers enhanced certification, public service announcements and software solutions designed by the industry for the industry, including “Pilot Car Manager” and “Permit Manager powered by ProMiles,” both are intended to provide the specialized carrier industry comprehensive, electronic vetting, procurement and procedures to ensure qualified, safety-conscious pilots escorting oversize loads.

The lack of training programs and/or certification in Canada led Nova, in 2018, to create its own Pilot Car Training Course based on SC&RA & FHWA Best Practices. Nova Pilot Escort Vehicle Operators (PEVOs) must go through our class and must pass the exam before earning the right to be on the road with our instructor. Once the Nova standards are met, the PEVO is then authorized to operate on its own. Another layer of experience must be met before a PEVO might be considered to operate as a Height Pole Operator for high loads and to also be able to perform route surveys. The better trained and the more experienced the PEVO’s become, the less chances of unwanted situations arising. Carriers must see PEVO’s as an added value and safety layer rather than only a requirement imposed by the jurisdictions.

We are proud supporters of each of these organizations and the various initiatives to lead the industry in roadway safety.

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