Exactly what goes on behind the scenes when someone wants to transport a strange load from points A to B? First, a definition of terms.
An oversized load exceeds the legal load on that specific portion of land. If you exceed the load per axle this is also considered overweight.
An abnormal load has additional problems in that not only does it make the truck too heavy, but it has awkward dimensions. Items such as construction equipment, pre-fabricated homes, bridges, large machines, steel beams, or a huge bundle of lumber qualify as abnormal loads. So, we’re talking about a wide range of items, all traveling in different directions.
Break bulk is anything that must be carried by road or rail as it is too large for ocean liner or air.
Different countries as well as different states of the USA have their own rules. Generally, in the US you will have to apply for a permit to transport the load which probably specifies a date and time. In the US an abnormal load measures more than 2.59m, though different states very with the rules on the height or weight. You will need a permit for each state.
If the permit doesn’t say a date or time, the default is that it’s only valid during daytime hours. Driving these loads during the night is too dangerous, despite perhaps being less disruptive to traffic. It’s important to note that these loads cannot be transported on an American holiday, which may be linked to needing a huge number of personnel.
In addition to the permit you will need a pilot car to escort the truck. The pilot car is easy to spot as it has a sign saying “Oversized Load” in capitals on the roof in addition to amber lights which can be seen 30 meters away. In some state, in some cases, there also needs to be a police escort.
As far as getting the material on and off you may need something like a crane. Even if you don’t, you will almost definitely need the help of dedicated shipping agents and the local authorities need to be informed. It is best to get a number of quotes from competing companies for this service.
The truck should travel in the left lane only, except when turning or overtaking. A specific item that needs to be worked out is the clearance needed for going under a bridge, and, depending on its size, turning left or right.
You can find a freight cost calculator online; due to the danger involved transporting oversized load does get prohibitively expensive.
7% of trucking accidents are due to unsecured loads. It’s vital that the load is impossible to shift. All the people who transport it, including the shipper, driver and the receiver must be sure that it’s completely secure. And as mentioned above safety comes down to money and not cutting corners.
It sometimes seems like excessive caution, but it is vital for other road users that all the laws and regulations are followed. They are just so many things that could go wrong otherwise.