When is a Tractor Transport Considered Oversize?

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August 26, 2021 Renan 0 Comments

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If you’re planning to ship a massive tractor but are unsure whether its dimensions are within DOT requirements, you might find it challenging to handle the shipping process. Once you finish reading this article, you’ll have an understanding of when a tractor is considered an oversize load, things to consider when shipping, and safety tips for oversized equipment transport.

What Qualifies as Oversized an Oversize Tractor Transport?

In general, the maximum legal load height limit in many states is 8.5 feet (102 inches), while the standard legal length is 48 feet, although some states permit up to 53 feet. On the flip side, the maximum load weight for heavy hauling is 46,000 pounds.

Width is the single metric that typically renders most loads oversized. Like the height, the cargo limit must not exceed 8.5 feet. A load with a width exceeding that is considered oversized, and you’re required to obtain a transport permit to transport your tractor legally. If the width reaches 12 feet, you’re required to have one or two escort vehicles to pilot the shipment.

When considering tractor weight restriction, it’s critical to note that DOT considers the weight per axle. It is not uncommon to have load weight within the legal limits and still fail the weight-per-axle test. That results typically from improper load positioning. You can simply adjust the load to ensure that the weight is evenly distributed at each axle.

John Deere Tractor loaded for transport

Legal Requirements When Hauling an Oversized Tractor

Shipping an oversize tractor, bulldozer, excavator, or classic equipment requires a special state permit. That’s because such cargoes pose safety risks to the transport crew and other motorists using the road. Therefore, proper safety protocols must be in place to protect public property. Other limitations might apply because most DOT departments in many states only issue permits after route mapping. Transportation is allowed within 30 minutes of dawn and dusk, only on weekdays with the exemption of holidays.

According to the 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), the only conventional vehicles allowed on US roads are trucks with trailers reaching a maximum of 48 and 8.5 feet in length and width, respectively. Standard flatbed trailers usually measure 48 feet, although about 25 states, such as Idaho, North Dakota, and Nevada, allow 53-ft.-long trailers to travel without permits.

It’s also crucial to know when to deploy pilot/escort vehicles. You’ll require pilot car services if the load’s width exceeds 12 feet. The purpose of deploying escort cars is to ensure seamless and safe load transport, especially when passing through special zones, such as busy urban centers, traffic congestions, low utility lines, and construction areas.

Safety Tips for Oversize Tractor Shipping and Hauling

Safety protocols are not only applicable during the actual transportation, but it’s equally essential to ensure safety during loading and unloading.

When loading the tractor, ensure that every crew member understands their roles and responsibility. Hence, you must have a spotter, tractor driver, tie-down inspector, and other personnel. The spotter guides the tractor driver as s/he loads the cargo on the trailer. The driver must move the tractor slowly and steadily to prevent shifts in the trailer’s CoG. Once the driver positions the load and ensures even weight distribution, the leverage specialists will secure the load, with four contact points each at every wheel. That should be done using high-quality securing tools, including:

  • Chains
  • Binders
  • Straps
  • Webbing Ratchets
  • D-Rings
  • Grab Hooks
  • Friction Mat
  • Clamps and Latches
  • Wheel Chocks

A seasoned journey manager oversees the transportation process. S/he maps and surveys the route, road conditions and restrictions, and operates pilot vehicles. They keep constant communications with the driver and the crew to ensure that the cargo moves at the recommended speed when negotiating corners or moving under bridges.

Unloading heavy equipment from a trailer can be more dangerous than the loading process because the cargo weight might shift due to the backward and forward movement during transportation. The tension on the chains and straps also increases, leading to sudden snapping. Hence, extra caution is required.

A spotter helps during unloading to inspect the chains, load position, and identify any endangered pedestrians. Furthermore, he ensures that the ground is flat and the ramps are clean to prevent any accidents.