Oversize Load Permits

What You Need To Know About Oversize Load Permits

Although the goal of transporting a load is to do so without the need of additional permits and other special considerations, that isn’t always possible. While you may be able to break down some larger loads into more manageable ones, there are some non-divisible loads that will require a permit at the very least, and perhaps safety flags, lights, and escort vehicles, as well. Read on to learn more about oversize load permits and other related topics.

Federal & State Limits

One of the major challenges of complying with oversize and overweight load limits is that they vary from state to state. The United States government doesn’t issue permits for such loads, but it does set weight limits for the Interstate Highway System. This includes maximums of 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, 20,000 lbs for a single axle, and 34,000 lbs for a tandem axle. The government also terms loads that are more than 102 inches wide as “overwidth,” and those also require state permits.

As for state limits, maximum heights range from 13.5 feet in states such as Pennsylvania to 14.5 feet in states like Oregon. Maximum weights, lengths, and widths also vary depending on the state and types of roads traveled. Due to these differences, it’s important to consult state governments to determine whether your load is legal or requires a permit and other considerations, especially if traveling across the country.

For reference, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration maintains an Oversize/Overweight Load Permits page that includes links and phone numbers to permitting offices throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For example, in Nebraska, a load that exceeds 14 feet (4.3 meters) in width and/or weighs more than 110,000 pounds (49,895 kilograms) is considered a super load, and loads that are more than 16 ft (4.9 m) high require a route survey. However, in Pennsylvania, that same load would simply be considered oversize; a super load in that state is one that exceeds 160 ft (48.8 m) in length, 16 ft in width, and/or 201,000 lbs (91,172 kg) in weight.

Divisible vs. Non-Divisible Loads

As the names imply, divisible and non-divisible loads are cargo that can or cannot be separated into smaller shipments to stay below legal limits. If it would take less than eight man hours to divide a load into smaller parts, it is considered divisible. For example, if you are transporting a 60,000-lb bulldozer and a 30,000-lb motor grader on the same trailer, you would need to ship them separately as they exceed the 80,000-lb limit.

A non-divisible load, on the other hand, cannot be separated into smaller parts because doing so would take more than eight hours, permanently damage the load, or render it inoperable. Again, these laws vary from state to state as certain types of vehicles may be allowed to haul oversize divisible loads, such as trucks laying down materials to treat icy roads during the winter.

Other requirements can include route planning with input from utility companies, bridge analysis to ensure loads won’t compromise the structures, and even providing a sketch of the load complete with axle, tire, and dimension details. Familiarize yourself with state limits and consult government officials to ensure you tick all the necessary boxes.

Other Considerations

Beyond oversize and overweight loads, there are also super loads that will require more special considerations, including lead time for approvals, route planning, bridge analysis, and detailed sketches of the load. You can learn more about super loads here.

Count On FR8Star

Transporting oversize loads can be challenging, but it doesn’t need to be. With FR8Star, you get access to a vetted network of qualified transport companies with experience handling oversize loads and super loads. Click Get Started on the FR8Star homepage, enter all relevant information about your load, and receive free estimates in as little as 30 seconds. (Estimates may take up to a few hours for oversize/super loads.) You can then compare transport companies, find the one best-suited to transport your load, and then work together with them to make sure you have the proper permits and anything else you’ll need to ship your freight safely and legally.

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