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Behind-the-Wheel

Meeting a wide load on the road

Moving oversized loads

“Could you do an article on wide commercial loads when a pilot car is used? The reason I am asking is I almost got run down once when a wide load came over into my lane, oncoming, to swing wide in order to make a right turn. Understandable, except there was no warning because the pilot car had already made the turn and was nowhere in sight."

Wide-load, long-load and the dimensional signs that flash amber lights, as well as pilot cars, are all part of moving an oversized load on B.C.'s highways.

They do the job of advising surrounding traffic something out of the ordinary is present and they must prepare for the possibility of taking extraordinary action because of it.

The combination of actions that must be used is contained in the conditions attached to the oversize vehicle permit that authorizes the move to take place. These conditions may require the use of one or two pilot vehicles to precede or follow the oversized vehicle in order to warn approaching traffic a hazard exists.

The Commercial Transport Act Regulations even go so far as to specify the distances pilot vehicles must maintain from the load they are escorting.

The province has created a manual, Pilot Car Load Movement Guidelines, that is intended to clarify, enhance and support the conditions for travel that are set out in provincial permits for oversized and overweight loads.

The TranBC website has a page titled 9 Clues to Solving the Mystery of the Pilot Car to help you understand what to do when you meet an oversize load.

In your case, because the pilot car did not provide direction, the ultimate responsibility lies with the driver of the vehicle carrying the oversized load.

In order to encroach on your lane, or do anything else out of the ordinary, it must be determined that the movement can be carried out safely, without unreasonably affecting other traffic.

It is a heavy responsibility as traffic is often reluctant to slow, wait or move out of the way and there may be short sight distances involved.

The driver of a pilot car may give instructions to traffic, such as holding a stop sign out of the driver's door window. Failing to obey these instructions could result in a fine and penalty points.

As you will see in the various examples of case law on the DriveSmartBC.ca website, a driver does not always have the exclusive right-of-way. The presence of pilot cars along with signs and flashing yellow lights on the oversized load indicates you may have to do something other than carry on.

If you fail to adapt to the situation, you may be held partially responsible for any ensuing collision.

Knowing this, when you approach an oversized load from any side, you must be prepared for the possibility you may have to slow, stop or change lanes to facilitate the movement of the oversized load.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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