What it Takes to Be a Pilot Car Driver

You’ve seen them – pickup trucks or cars driving in front of a tractor trailer pulling a very wide load. These are called pilot cars, and the people who drive them are professionals who specialize in that form of driving. You may have thought that those cars and trucks were part of a team, but in fact the pilot car driver is usually someone contracted to get the load through a particular state. So what does it take to be a pilot driver? Read on and find out.

There is a certain amount of equipment your vehicle will require. For instance, you will need a fire extinguisher, a CB radio, flags, and an oversize load sign. It goes without saying that you need a highly reliable vehicle capable of handling long drives. Equipment requirements can vary from state to state, so it is important to have the equipment required by the states in which you work.

Gathering together the equipment you need is the easy part. The hard part is living the lifestyle necessary to be successful in the industry. The life of a pilot car is very similar to a truck driver in that it requires many hours of driving with limited interruptions. Just like truck drivers, they are paid by the mile. So the more miles you can drive in a day, the more you can earn.

There is one area where these drivers are at a disadvantage relative to their companion truck drivers – the pilot car driver has nowhere to sleep! When the day is done, a pilot car driver must find a hotel. This adds to his time on the road and is an additional expense to consider.

There is also a certain level of danger associated with driving a pilot car. There may be times when quick lane changes or other repositioning is required to accommodate the needs of the wide load vehicle. Sometimes aggressive driving is required, so timidity is not a trait that will lead to success in this field.

This type of driving is not something that you should just decide to do with no training. Your best bet to get into the field is to find an experienced driver who will allow you to ride along, and later maybe even drive the vehicle yourself. The wider the load, and the more difficult the situation, the higher the level of training that will be required to drive safely and effectively.

Pilot car driving is not an easy life, and it definitely requires a high level of concentration and determination. But if driving is what you love, and you are willing to live a lifestyle similar to a trucker, then it is a profession that you might find very satisfying.

Katherine E. Ackerman

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