Oversize and Wide Loads Regulations in 2024

Posted On 2nd January 2023

If you are sending products across the U.S. that require an oversized load, it's important to understand the shipping laws for every state your truck drives through.

Oversize loads are a common occurrence on today’s roads, and these loads are subject to different laws and regulations in each state. That’s why we’ve compiled all the essential information for wide loads in this complete guide to oversize load restrictions.

With our help, you can ship your wide load with confidence anywhere in the United States.

What is an Oversize Load

An oversized or wide load vehicle is generally defined as a vehicle that is carrying a load wider than 8’5” (a standard truck bed width is 8’). However, a load can also be “oversized” based on the weight, length or height of the cargo. The maximum height allowed by oversized load regulations is generally the same across the United States.

Most states agree that an oversized load truck shouldn’t be taller than 14’6”. The length and weight limitations for oversize loads vary by state, so you’ll need to check state requirements before sending a long or especially heavy shipment.

Permits & Escort Vehicles for Wide Load Trucks

Oversize and Wide LoadsDespite disagreements about wide load definitions and restrictions for overweight loads, one thing that is true across all 50 states is that wide loads need a permit to hit the road.

Even if your truck meets legal wide load requirements for most dimensions, if it’s too wide, or long, or heavy, you’ll be required to obtain a permit. Plus, you’ll have to get a separate permit for each state your freight will travel through.

In addition to a permit, your oversized load truck may be required to have an escort vehicle. Escort or pilot cars are passenger cars that travel with a wide load to protect both the truck and other cars on the road. Most states only require escorts for loads that are over 10 or 12 ft. wide, but a few states require pilot vehicles for all wide loads.

Depending on the size of your wide load truck, and the state you’re driving through, either one or two escort cars may be required; For loads that are more than 10’ wide, many states require 2 pilot cars: one car in front, and one as a rear pilot.

Pilot car drivers are responsible for alerting other cars to the presence of a wide load, as well as making sure the truck can travel through traffic safely. A pilot car traveling in front of a wide load also alerts the truck driver of oncoming traffic for turns, makes sure it is safe for the wide load to switch lanes, and stops other cars from passing trucks when it’s not safe.

If the wide load is entering a congested area, or any situation where there may be danger to any vehicle, pilot car drivers are also permitted to stop traffic in order to guide the truck driver safely to their destination.

Oversize Load Rules for Banners, Flags, and Lights

Oversize Load Rules for Banners, Flags, and LightsIt is important that all cars on the road are alerted to an oversized load, even if the truck isn’t accompanied by an escort so most states also require oversized loads to have extra safety equipment such as lights, flags, and load banners.

Most states require any wide load to have a load banner, which is a yellow and black banner with the words “WIDE LOAD” or “OVERSIZE LOAD” printed in bold letters, on both the front and back of the freight.

Truckloads must also have an 18” square red or orange flag at each “wide” corner of the load (anywhere the load is wider than the truck bed).

If your shipment has permission to be on the roads at night, the truck will also need to have lights in the same spots as the flags.

You should also keep these lights on during periods of low visibility, like during snow or rain storms. Some states require yet another light, either flashing or rotating, on top of the truck cab. When the truck is not on the road, all warning equipment must be removed.

Oversize Loads Regulations: When Can I Drive a Wide Load

Oversize road regulations even dictate when wide-load trucks can be on the road. In most states, wide-load trucks are only permitted to be on the road from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. This is meant to reduce the possibility of an accident, which is more likely after dusk or before dawn.

Before scheduling an oversize load delivery, you’ll also want to check the oversize load holiday restrictions by state for each state you’ll be driving through. Most states will not allow oversize trucks to drive on weekends or during holidays, and wide loads will be required to get off the road by noon the day before the holiday begins.

Again, these restrictions stem from safety concerns during more congested traffic times, so it is extra important to be sure you are only driving during legal driving times. Driving outside of the permitted times is considered a violation of your oversize load permit, and you may be subject to a fine.

Oversize Load Requirements by State

Every State has a different definition for an oversize, and different wide load limits for trucks on their roads.

To ensure that your shipment meets all wide load requirements for your shipping route, click on the links below to see oversize load regulations by state:

  1. Alaska (AK)
  2. Arizona (AZ)
  3. California (CA)
  4. Colorado (CO)
  5. Connecticut (CT)
  6. Delaware (DE)
  7. Florida (FL)
  8. Hawaii (HI)
  9. Idaho (ID)
  10. Illinois (IL)
  11. Indiana (IN)
  12. Kansas (KS)
  13. Kentucky (KY)
  14. Louisiana (LA)
  15. Maine (ME)
  16. Maryland (MD)
  17. Massachusetts (MA)
  18. Minnesota (MN)
  19. Mississippi (MS)
  20. Missouri (MO)
  21. Nevada (NV)
  22. New Hampshire (NH)
  23. New Jersey (NJ)
  24. New York (NY)
  25. North Carolina (NC)
  26. North Dakota (ND)
  27. Oklahoma (OK)
  28. Oregon (OR)
  29. Pennsylvania (PA)
  30. South Carolina (SC)
  31. Texas (TX)
  32. Utah (UT)
  33. Vermont (VT)
  34. Virginia (VA)
  35. Washington (WA)
  36. West Virginia (WV)
  37. Wisconsin (WI)
  38. Wyoming (WY)

CT Oversize Load Escort Requirements

CT oversize load escort requirements are as follows:

  • A minimum of two escorts are required, one in front and one in back of the oversize load
  • The lead escort must have a valid CT commercial driver's license (CDL) with an "O" endorsement
  • The lead escort must have a valid CT Oversize Load Escort Certificate
  • The rear escort must have a valid CT CDL with an "O" endorsement OR a valid CT Oversize Load Escort Certificate
  • All escorts must be familiar with the route
  • The lead escort must maintain radio or cellular phone communication with the rear escort at all times.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Wide Can a Trailer Be?

There is no definitive answer to how wide a trailer can be, as each state has its own regulations. However, the maximum width for a trailer is usually 8.5 feet. Anything wider than that requires a permit from the state in which the trailer will be operated.

The permit application process varies from state to state, but generally includes an application fee and proof of insurance. Some states also require an inspection of the vehicle before a permit will be issued. When transporting an oversized load, it is important to follow all state and federal regulations. Failure to do so could result in fines or other penalties. For more information on oversize loads, contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles office.

Wide Load vs. Oversize Load

There are a few key distinctions between wide loads and oversized loads. First, wide loads are typically any load that is too wide to fit within the legal limits for highway travel. This generally means anything over 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) in width. Oversized loads, on the other hand, are those that exceed the legal limits for length, width, height, or weight.

Second, because of their size and dimensions, wide loads typically need to be transported using specialized equipment like flatbed trailers. Oversized loads can be transported using standard trucks and trailers, although they may require permits and escort vehicles.

Finally, wide loads are typically only allowed on certain routes that have been pre-approved by the relevant authorities. Oversize loads may be allowed on any route, although again, permits and escorts may be required.

Overall, wide loads and oversized loads both present challenges in terms of transportation. However, by understanding the key differences between the two, you can ensure that your load is transported safely and legally.

Can You Pass an Oversize Load?

If you're driving a large truck or other vehicle, you may need to transport an oversized load at some point. But before you do, there are a few things you need to know. First, you'll need to obtain a permit from the proper authorities. This will allow you to travel on designated roads and highways while carrying your load. You'll also need to make sure your vehicle is properly equipped to handle the load. Finally, you'll need to be aware of any regulations that apply to oversized loads in your area. With the right preparation, you can safely and successfully transport an oversized load.