Oregon Department of Transportation, Highway Division

Rule Rule 734-076-0165
Pilot Vehicle(s)


Pilot vehicles may be needed to ensure the safety of the traveling public when the tow vehicle and disabled unit involve excessive width, height, length or projections to the front or rear of vehicles or combinations of vehicles. The configuration of such pilot vehicle(s) must be a passenger car, pick-up, truck or truck-tractor of legal size and weight. Combinations of vehicles are not allowed as pilot vehicles. The number of pilot vehicles required for certain movements is shown on permit Attachment 76-A, which is provided with the permit.


Pilot vehicles escorting oversize loads or vehicles are required to have the following:


Warning signs mounted above the roofline of the vehicle. This sign must bear the legend “OVERSIZE LOAD.” The sign must be at least five feet wide by ten inches high and have black letters eight inches high with one-inch brush stroke in accordance with Federal Highway Administration series B, on highway yellow background. The sign must be displayed only during the course of the oversize movement, and must be removed or retracted at all other times. The sign must be clean, legible and mounted adequately to afford full view at all times, when in use, to the front or rear depending upon location of pilot vehicle or relative to the oversize unit.


Warning lights are required in addition to those lights that may otherwise be required by law. The warning lights must be displayed only during the course of the oversize movement, and at all other times the requirements found in ORS 816.350 (Prohibitions on number and kind of lights for certain vehicles)(7) will apply. Strobe lights are allowed. These lights must be mounted above the roof of the cab, be clearly visible from 500 feet, have a minimum of 30 flashes per minute and be either:


Two flashing amber lights as widely spaced laterally as is practical;


Revolving type amber light(s); or


Amber type strobe light(s) with 360 degree visibility.


Two-way radio communications between the towing vehicle and the pilot vehicle(s) must be maintained at all times.


Two 18-inch-square red or fluorescent orange flags mounted on three-foot length staffs must be carried by each pilot vehicle. The pilot vehicle operator will use the flags to warn oncoming or overtaking traffic when the oversize unit is stopped and obstructing traffic; and


Eight safety flares or reflectors. Safety flares may not be used when the movement involves hazardous materials.


The number of pilot vehicles required for certain movements is shown on Permit Attachment 76-A, which is issued with permits requiring pilot vehicles. The Chief Engineer is authorized to alter the number of pilot vehicles from those specified in permit Attachment 76-A depending upon local conditions, seasonal traffic, construction projects or other considerations. The permit will reflect altered requirements.


Permit Attachment 76-A is available from the Commerce and Compliance Division, Over-Dimension Permit Unit.


The highway classification groups referred to in Permit Attachment 76-A are established and maintained by the Chief Engineer.


Positioning of pilot vehicles — Unless specified otherwise, the pilot vehicle(s) must be positioned ahead of (when one is required) or to the front and rear of (when two or more are required) the oversize unit at a distance of 300 feet to 500 feet from the unit. In areas where traffic congestion is encountered, where traffic is controlled by signals or where other conditions may require, the spacing will be reduced as may be required to properly safeguard the traveling public.


When for any cause the oversize unit is stopped and occupies or encroaches onto the highway’s travel lane, the pilot vehicle(s) must be positioned to warn and safeguard other traffic approaching from any direction from which visibility or sight distance may be limited.


Duties of pilot vehicle operators:


Warn approaching or overtaking traffic of the unit’s presence on the highway to provide a maximum of protection and safety for the traveling public; and


When encountering bridges, structures, tunnels or other locations where clearances may be limited to the extent that normal two-way traffic cannot be maintained, the pilot vehicle operator must signal by hand or radio to the towing vehicle driver when the oversize unit can proceed without conflict to approaching traffic. As the oversize unit then proceeds through such areas of impaired clearance, the pilot vehicle operator must warn approaching traffic.


Pilot vehicle(s) are considered to be under the direct control and supervision of the tow truck operator.


Specific identified locations may require additional precautions. Permits will specify locations that require certified flagging to be conducted. The flagging must be conducted in accordance with the standards in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as adopted in OAR 734-020-0005 (Traffic Control Devices).

Last accessed
Jun. 8, 2021