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What is a height pole?

WHAT IS A HEIGHT POLE?

A height pole or high pole or hi-pole is a measuring device that is precisely attached to the front of a pilot car vehicle that is used to measure the height of overhead obstructions during the transport of over-dimensional (tall) shipments by oversize trucking companies. North American states and provinces have laws that regulate and mandate when a height pole is required in order to transport over height shipments within their jurisdiction. To be in compliance with these pre-determined requirements trucking companies must determine if the shipment they wish to transport will require a height pole pilot car or a lead escort vehicle with a height pole installed before applying for a oversize trucking permit.

pilot car truck equipped with a height pole.

Pilot car with height pole attached.

The photograph illustrated here is a typical example of what a pilot car vehicle might appear like when equipped with a height pole.  You can clearly see the measuring device affixed to the front of the vehicle as it is very tall. A height pole is typically made out of sections of fiberglass that are adjustable to meet the requirements by each state/province the shipment will be transported through. Typically the height pole will be adjusted to a height that is 6 inches (or 15.24 centimeters) taller than the shipment is when loaded onto the shipping trailer. Then once the actual transport of the item takes place the pilot car equipped with the height pole will proceed in front of the over-dimensional (tall) load being transported. If a driver of the pilot car equipped with the height pole (hi-pole or high pole) hears the fiberglass height pole hit any obstructions in the path of the shipment the operator will then immediately notify the driver of the truck transporting the shipment informing of the obstruction in order to prevent any damages to the shipment or the obstruction. When a height pole is properly mounted to the escort vehicle it is connected to the frame. If the height pole does happen to strike any objects the sound heard by the pilot car is very loud and distinct thus alerting the driver of the obstruction. It has been noted as recently as 2015 in excess of 169 million dollars in overhead obstruction damages were caused during that single year in the United States alone. So having these safety measures in place is most definitely in the best interest of everyone from the tax payer, to the safety of the motorists and the owner of the shipment being transported as well as the transportation company.


The importance of installing a height pole correctly.

There’s no such thing as cutting corners when installing a height pole on your pilot car. It’s extremely important it’s directly connected to the frame of your pilot car for two reasons:

  • Ensure it is sturdy, stable and not going to fall off of your vehicle.
  • So you can hear the sound it makes if it hits any obstruction. To do so properly it must be attached to the frame.

In order for the pilot car vehicle operator to properly hear the sound created by the height pole if a obstruction is hit it is imperative the device be properly and securely mounted to the vehicle in such a manner the bracket holding it is connected to the frame of the pilot car vehicle. In order to obtain the absolute highest quality from installing this device you may wish to make certain you are not adding sub-supports for your height pole when designing your attachment method.

Suggested methods of attaching a height pole.

While there are many different way to install a height pole on your pilot car vehicle we strongly suggest you locate a heavy-duty bumper grill made from heavy tubing such as you might see on law enforcement vehicles. If you are able to locate a front bumper/grill protector attachment you then have a few options:

  • The first would be to cut the top portion of the bumper guard off so your height pole can easily slide in/out of the pole. Make certain you devise a method than locks it in no matter how you decide to attach it.
  • The second option would be to locate a small piece of pipe the base of the height pole snugly fits into and weld this onto the bumper grill attachment.

This will require some planning, designing and fabricating on your part in order to weld the pipe in place so it stands perfectly vertical but well worth it if you wish to work with shipments that are over-height.

The bumper grill works so well due to the fact it usually connects with two bolts to your vehicle. The tubing these are constructed out of is not only heavy-duty but very close if not the same as the base of most height poles. So not only do it properly but efficiently as well.

Why is it so important to connect high poles to the frame of pilot car vehicles?

A good quality sound must be made if any obstructions are hit with the pole. You want to consider all of the other noises that occur when you are operating your pilot car vehicle. You’ve got the sound of your engine, the sound of your tires on the road as well as any 2-way radio chatter. Other sounds such as sirens, trains, air-planes etc. are frequent as well. Because the height pole is so important make sure if it does strike something overhead it clearly makes a loud sound. This will  instantly alert the operator by being indistinguishable from any other sounds or background noises.

 
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