By Christi Baron
In one of my past lives, I was a PEVO, A Pilot Escort Vehicle Operator. So I have seen some crazy things that people do when they meet and/or follow a wide-load.
Living here on the West End we share the roads with logging machinery on the move as well as the occasional manufactured home move.
On Friday I received a call from a woman that wanted to put a gripe in the paper. She shared that she had nearly just been in a head-on collision on the La Push Road, as a driver passed pilot cars and a wide load on a corner.
Thankfully she happened to be talking to her husband, who was the lead pilot vehicle, on her Blue tooth. He had advised her they would shortly be meeting on the highway as he was going west and she was headed east. He suggested she move over when they met, as she moved over …she had to move over even further almost into the ditch as a small dark-colored car passed the three vehicles on a corner.
She was pretty shaken by the near-collision …so here is a little refresher on how and what you should do when meeting or following an oversize load.
Loads that might be considered oversize include trucks carrying construction machinery such as cranes, pre-built homes, containers, or construction elements like beams, generators, or propellers.
Before seeing an oversize load, you may see a car or 4-wheel drive vehicle ahead, which is called a pilot vehicle, an escort car or a flag car.
Its role is to warn drivers of the approach of an oversize load, evaluate the safety of the route and keep the truck driver informed of the road conditions ahead. The car will have flashing lights, flags and/or a sign to indicate that an oversized load is on its way.
Safety and consideration are the watchwords when sharing the road with oversize loads.
Upon seeing an escort car or the oversize load itself, be prepared to move over, slow down, and stop. A pilot vehicle may signal you to slow down or warn you to pull off the road.
Many drivers grow impatient when their journey is slowed by oversize loads and/or when there are few passing opportunities. Stay safe by not taking unnecessary risks.
An oversize load may well require both lanes on roundabouts, so leave plenty of room for the truck to maneuver.
In addition to remembering that loaded trucks have a longer braking distance than cars, consider the potential gain, safety and legality of overtaking. Ask yourself how far it is to the next designated overtaking lane and consider the unusual length and/or width of the vehicle ahead.
If you decide to overtake, maintain a safe following distance, make sure that you have enough room to safely complete the maneuver, remember to indicate and check that no-one is trying to overtake YOU. Be prepared to retreat to your former position in the event of a miscalculation or an unexpected road event. If you cannot see the truck driver in their mirrors they are unable to see you.
Pull in when you can see the headlights of the oversize load in your rearview mirror.