When Hauling Heavy Equipment, Make Sure You Have Permits For Any Detours

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When Hauling Heavy Equipment, Make Sure You Have Permits For Any Detours

24 August 2015
 Categories: , Articles

If you spend enough time driving as a heavy equipment hauler, you'll eventually face a detour. Whether due to construction, an accident or some other cause, you'll need to take a different route from the one you had planned. In most cases, a detour isn't a big deal. If you're working for an equipment hauling service, however, you may need to obtain permits before taking the alternate route.

You May Need Special Permits

Most detours are navigable in a tractor trailer, but some take streets that have restrictions. If you're transporting a bulldozer, crane, backhoe or similarly heavy piece of equipment, you might need special permits to drive on these streets legally. For example, you might need permits if

  • the detour includes streets that prohibit commercial traffic
  • your truck's weight exceeds the maximum weight limit of roads that the detour takes
  • you're driving an oversized load

If the detour route requires any permits that you don't already have, you should wait for them before proceeding along the route. The penalties for driving without a permit could potentially be severe if you're caught by a police officer or involved in an accident.

Police Officers May Issue Tickets

If you're pulled over while taking the detour and don't have all required permits, the police officer may give you a ticket. Your employer may offer to pay the ticket, which could cost hundreds of dollars, but you may still be assessed points on your license. Having points on your license can make you ineligible for bonuses, make you more costly to insure and make you look less desirable to prospective employers in the future.

In some cases, a detour may require special permits and be the only available route to your destination. If you can't take another route and government offices are closed, preventing you from quickly getting a permit, a police officer may let you through without issuing a ticket. They aren't obligated to, though, so you should talk with an officer before taking the detour to see what they suggest doing.

Insurers Might Not Cover You

If you don't have the required permits and are involved in an accident, your insurer may not provide coverage. Depending on your policy, they may say it is voided, because you drove illegally on a street that the detour took. While you might protest this in court, there isn't a guarantee that you'd win.

Without insurance coverage, you could be financially responsible for all damages resulting from the accident. Damage to your cargo alone could cost you thousands of dollars. The Department of Transportation (DOT) places the average value of a tractor trailer's load at $725 per ton. If you're towing 25 tons, your cargo could be worth $18,125 -- and that doesn't include any damage done to your truck or another person's vehicle, or any injuries that result from the accident.

Your Dispatcher Can Help You

You might be able to determine whether you need permits in order to take a detour by looking at road signs or talking to a police officer, but you won't be able to obtain them from your truck. Your dispatcher, however, should be able to help you get the documentation you need to drive on the detour legally.

If you're driving at night or on the weekend, they might have to wait until the next business day to talk with the appropriate agency. Waiting for them to get you the necessary paperwork, however, will keep you from getting a ticket or being held financially liable for an accident. If they can't find another route for you to take, pull over until they can get you the proper permits.