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Pilot Car Equipment Requirements & Full List

List of Pilot Car Equipment with Requirements


Pilot cars are responsible for escorting vehicles carrying oversized loads on our nation’s highways and interstates. Signage attached to the car or truck indicates a vehicle behind or ahead carrying an oversized load, and flashing yellow lights catch the attention of other drivers.

However, did you know that there are other requirements in terms of pilot car equipment?

In this post, we’ll explore the full list of pilot car equipment requirements so that you can be prepared. We’ll also discuss where to buy pilot car equipment, different requirements per state, and other important topics.


The Vehicle


Let’s begin with the vehicle. What can you drive as a pilot vehicle? Most states stipulate that you can use any passenger car or truck that is between 2,000 and 26,000 lbs., although some states only stipulate minimum weight requirements.

Some states also mandate the wheelbase dimensions. For example, New York requires vehicles to have a wheelbase of at least 100 inches. Not sure if your vehicle meets state minimum requirements? Check with your state’s department of transportation (DOT) or equivalent or a resource like the National Pilot Car Association.


Pilot Car Equipment Requirements


Now that we’ve discussed the vehicle itself, let’s turn our attention to the equipment you’ll need to legally use it as a pilot vehicle. The standard list looks something like this:

  1. 18-inch Stop/Slow Paddle – Note that most states have a minimum size requirement for the text on the paddle. For instance, Florida requires that the text be no smaller than six inches.
  2. Amber Beacon Light – You’ll need at least one spare amber beacon light for use with your pilot car. Pilot car lights provide visibility and attract the attention of other drivers. Note that pilot car lights come in many forms, and modern vehicles usually use a light bar, rather than individual lights.
  3. Reflective Triangles – Most states require that you carry multiple reflective triangles (9) in case of a breakdown.
  4. Class II ANSI Safety Vest – You’ll need to always wear an orange safety vest, even when inside the pilot vehicle.
  5. 18-inch x 18-inch Red Oversized Load Flags – Your vehicle will need three (3) of these flags and they should be displayed prominently on the vehicle.
  6. 10-lb. Fire Extinguisher – You’ll need a 10-lb. fire extinguisher (fully charged and within the required date range) within your vehicle in case of emergencies. Note that some states require more than one fire extinguisher. For instance, Florida requires that you carry two (2) five-lb. fire extinguishers, but New York requires just one 10-lb. extinguisher.
  7. Reflective Traffic Cones – You’ll need three (3) 36-inch reflective traffic cones to help warn other drivers in emergencies.
  8. Oversized Load Banner – Your vehicle will need an oversize load banner at the front and rear (you’ll need 2). Note that most states require that the lettering measure at least 10 inches, but you should check with your state’s DOT for relevant minimum text size. You can purchase pilot car sign kits that include oversized load banners, as well as red caution flags.
  9. Hard Hat – Pilot truck drivers are required to always wear a hard hat. Note that some states may specify a particular color (orange is common).
  10. Flares – In case of emergency, you’ll need to carry roadside flares that burn for at least 15 minutes. Most states require that you have at least eight (8) of them.
  11. 24-inch x 24-inch High Pole Flag – Also called a stick flag, this measures 24-inches high and wide and must have weighted tips.
  12. CB/Handheld Radio – You’ll need an operational radio for communication with the load-carrying truck, as well as other team members. Handheld radios are usually acceptable.
  13. Flashlight – You’ll need an operational flashlight for emergencies.
  14. Spare Batteries – You are required to have spare batteries for your flashlight and other uses.
  15. First Aid Kit – Pilot car equipment includes a fully-stocked first aid kit. Make sure to check the expiration dates on medicines regularly and replace them as necessary.
  16. Traffic Wand – Most states require that you carry a six (6) inch red or orange traffic wand in the pilot car. The wand attaches to the end of the flashlight and helps with directing traffic. Note that some states require a nine (9) inch cone instead.
  17. High Pole – You don’t always have to operate a high pole, but if in a situation where you do, make sure it is non-conductive and that you can easily set measurements accurately.

Other Important Escort Equipment


In addition to the required equipment listed above, you’ll find some “nice to have” items that will keep you safer on the road. For instance, make sure that your vehicle has a spare tire and a jack. It’s worth upgrading from the travel jack the automaker included from the factory, too.

If you’re operating in a state that requires pilot car drivers to be certified, you’ll also want insignia such as patches that highlight that you’re a certified pilot car driver/escort.

Note that some states require you to have signage on your vehicle that includes the business name and the phrase “certified escort” or some variation of that.

What About Used Pilot Car Equipment?

You can usually purchase used pilot car equipment online or from other operators at a discount compared to new equipment. However, avoid buying used first aid kits.

It’s also important to inspect any used equipment thoroughly before purchasing it for signs of damage, discoloration, or wear that might compromise its operation.


Where to Buy Pilot Car Equipment?


You can buy pilot car equipment in many places. Amazon is a great resource if you know what you’re looking for, but there are other options.

Barney’s is one of the best-known names in the pilot car equipment industry and operates Pilot Car Superstore, where you can buy everything from light bars to sign racks to fit a variety of different vehicles. AMC Pilot Car Supply is another site worth exploring for your pilot car equipment needs.


Happy Piloting!

With the list of pilot car equipment above, you should be well on your way to having everything you need to be successful in this field. Make sure to check your state’s DMV/DOT for specific equipment requirements and updates.

Once you have the required equipment check our portal for available pilot car loads.