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Escort Vehicle Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an escort vehicle?
An escort vehicle is a vehicle used as a forward or rear warning device to the general public, required for certain over-dimensional or over weight loads, also referred to as flag or pilot cars.
2. What type of vehicle is required to perform the duties of an escort vehicle driver?
  • The vehicle used for escort duty should be either (1) a truck or SUV of not less than one-quarter ton-rated load capacity but not more than 17,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or (2) a passenger vehicle of not less than 2,000 pounds gross weight.
  • An escort vehicle shall not resemble nor be confused with law enforcement or safety assistance vehicles.
  • The escort vehicle should be clearly marked with the appropriate signage and should have the escort vehicle company sign on both sides of the escort vehicle.
  • The escort vehicle must be in compliance with all state and local registration requirements.
  • The escort vehicle are not to be over-dimensional or overweight while being used in escort functions.
  • An escort vehicle is not permitted to pull a trailer of any kind while performing escort functions.
  • An escort vehicle must have an unobstructed view through the rear window.
  • The escort vehicle must be equipped with a two-way radio communications system to maintain communications with the load, other escort vehicles and utility vehicles.
3. What equipment is required to be carried on the vehicle?
(For the complete list and more detail, refer to the Virginia Escort Driver's Manual ().)
  • Signage: All escort vehicles shall have signs that are descriptive of the load being escorted, such as "oversize load". At a minimum, the signs shall be displayed in black eight-inch high letters with a minimum of 1-1/4 inch brush strokes on a yellow banner. The banner shall be mounted on the front and/or rear bumper of the escort vehicle. Other drivers must be able to read all the signs when approaching or following the escort vehicle, including any “oversize load” sign displayed on the roof.
  • Lights: All escort vehicles shall have at least one rotating light or strobe, positioned on top of the escort vehicle. The light must be visible for a distance of at least 500 feet in all directions by approaching vehicles. When an escort vehicle is escorting an oversize load, the headlamps of the escort vehicle must be on at all times.
  • Vehicle Flags: Vehicle mounted flags must be red/orange in color, 18 by 18 inches in size, and mounted In line with the top mounted oversize load sign at approximately a 45 degree angle towards the sides of the pilot/escort vehicle. The top mounted flags should extend no more than 6 inches beyond the widest part of the vehicle (rear view mirrors).
  • Height Pole: When required by the permit, front or lead escort vehicle drivers must have a height pole mounted to ensure that the load is able to clear all overpasses, tunnels, low hanging street lights and signals and road signs. A height pole is generally required for loads with a maximum height over 14 feet 6 inches. The height pole should be extended at least 3 inches above the maximum height of the load and is to be mounted on the front of the lead escort vehicle. It should be mounted in such a way that the driver's view is not obstructed and that it does not create a hazard for oncoming traffic.
  • Other Equipment (Best Practices): The escort vehicle driver must ensure that the vehicle is equipped with the following items:
    • A fire extinguisher
    • A first aid kit
    • At least 9 bi-directional reflective triangles
    • 8 red burning flares, glow sticks or equivalent illumination device
    • One stop/slow reflective paddle - 18 inches by 18 inches with six inch lettering
    • A hard hat and highly visible fluorescent traffic vest or jacket approved by ANSI II or III.
    • Flashlight and traffic wand flashlight with a safety nose cone
    • A serviceable spare tire, i.e., one that is inflated and has good tread.
4. Will anyone check escort vehicles for the proper equipment?
DMV manages the weigh stations, and DMV employees are trained to ensure that the truck has the proper number of escorts and that the escorts are certified with the proper equipment. The inspection stations for tunnels could do the same thing.
5. What is the minimum fine for an escort vehicle not having the proper equipment? Is the fine listed in the new Virginia Escort Driver's Manual (HP 405)?
There is no section in the Virginia Code that specifically imposes fines for not having the proper equipment; however, the load can be delayed until the proper equipment is obtained.
6. Will escort vehicles be required to have commercial insurance or would a home owner umbrella meet the insurance requirement?
Virginia Code §46.2-2902 (effective January 1, 2014) states that insurance to be kept in force. Each person or company providing certified escort vehicle services shall keep in force at all times valid liability insurance coverage for those classes of insurance defined in Virginia Code §38.2-117 and §38.2-118. The insurance must be for at least $750,000 and must have been issued by an insurance carrier authorized to do business in the Commonwealth.