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State Certifications for Pilot Cars and Escort Vehicles

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2022 State Certifications for Pilot Cars & Escort Vehicles. Which States Require Pilot Car Certification?

Some states require pilot car and escort vehicle drivers to be certified operators before operating within their jurisdictions. If you are considering operating an oversize load truck escorting service you will be required to have certain “certifications” in each of the following states. For details on each of the state’s requirements as of 2022, this is a great place to start your research.

Oversize load.
Typical oversize load that does not require a pilot car vehicle. However, shipments slightly wider may require a pilot car in some locations.
  • Arizona 
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Virginia
  • Washington

The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASTO), in conjunction with the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, released the National Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices,  specifically chapter 6(F), which applies to pilot cars and escort vehicles (also see; pilot car_and escort_best_practices_guidelines). Any escort vehicle or pilot car vehicle shall carry the following equipment items when escorting an over-dimensional, heavy haul, or otherwise extra-legal shipment.

  1. One two-way electronic communication device enables the pilot car or escorts to communicate directly with the driver of the extralegal shipment.
  2. One 105-pound fire extinguisher or a 5-pound fire extinguisher.
  3. One stop goes paddle sign reflective for night movement no less than 18 inches across or tall with letters no less than 6 inches in height.
  4. One-night reflective safety orange vest shirt or jacket.
  5. One handheld red flag is no less than 18 inches square.
  6. To oversize load banners that are yellow with black lettering (no minimum size specified. 
  7. One hardhat.
  8. Three reflective triangles or 18-inch traffic cones.

We do strongly suggest any individual or company operating as a pilot car or escort vehicle be outfitted with the minimum requirements. For your convenience see the list below, or you may visit our pages on “Starting a new pilot car company“.

The basics:

  • 1 professional mileage book with room for notations and 1 journal book. Keep good logs and summaries daily.
  • 5 – 36″ orange road cones with two strips of safety reflective tape at the top.
  • 5 – 12″ orange road cones (day use) with at least one safety reflective strip at the top just in case (night use).
  • 1 – safety colored yellow or orange reflective safety jacket and 2 reflective safety vests.
  • 8 roadside reflective triangles no less than 16″ tall.
  • 1 dozen up-to-date flammable safety road flares. Write expire date in your journal book for later reference.
  • 4 red safety-colored flags no less than 18″ square on 1/2″ wooden dowels.
  • 2 yellow signs reading “Oversize Load” no less than 12″ tall x 5′ wide with lettering 10″ tall and 1 5/8″ thick.
  • 1 – 2-way radio. We suggest a high-quality CB radio with a very high-quality antenna.
  • 2 fire extinguishers. 1 – 2.5 lb and 1 – 5 lb dry chemical type or higher rating.
  • 1 safety colored red or fluorescent hard hat with reflective safety tape.
  • 1 very good all-inclusive first aid kit. The more you spend the better. Familiarize yourself with everything.
  • Stop/Slow safety paddle sign no less than 24″ the same shape as a stop sign with a 5′ handle.
  • 2 flashlights that run on a minimum of 2 DC batteries with extra batteries.
  • 1 heavy-duty set of jumper cables. The best pair you can buy.
  • 1 jump box with charge meter indicating level of charge. A jump box is an external battery used for starting vehicles.
  • Chains for all 4 wheels of your vehicle for snow-covered passes or iced roads.
  • 2 two-way radios are fully charged with 2 fully charged batteries.
  • 1 GPS with good upto date quality mapping software that allows you to create way-points and also a good USA road atlas.

If you approach a state such as Louisiana, New Mexico, or Utah that require pilot cars to stop and pay for an inspection at the port of entry (before leading or chasing a load) and you don’t have the minimum tools listed above, wave goodbye to your money and the permit as you’ll be denied and rightly so.  A pilot car’s primary duty is to ensure the safety of the motorists. If you don’t have the essential tools required, you’re not deemed safe to operate in the capacity of a pilot car.  Below, we will cover the specific details required by pilot car companies to become certified in the states with certification requirements.

Details of State Certifications required for Pilot Cars. Which states require pilot car certification?

Some states may not have a state-endorsed certification program. For example, we noted recently we could not locate one in NM. If you’re having trouble locating one, check in one of your neighboring states. Community colleges are an excellent place to start as it’s much cheaper than private certification.  Also, note that whatever class you take will only teach you the requirements required by that particular state.
Oversize firetruck being shipped.
Firetruck being shipped with signs and flags.

If you are researching and looking for a list of the states that require specific pilot car certifications, you have found it.  Below is the list of each state requiring special certification for pilot cars and escort vehicles, some details about the type of certifications that are required, where to obtain them, fees, etc. Please feel free to add any comments to share with others at the bottom of this page.

    1. Arizona.
      The state of Arizona does not observe daylight savings time. Arizona pilot car certification: Arizona says that pilot car companies or escort vehicles must maintain a certificate of certification that verifies the pilot car and operator completed a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) program. Arizona does recognize equivalency programs completed in other states; however, the pilot car or escort vehicle operator must apply to operate within Arizona State jurisdictions. For more information, contact the Arizona motor vehicles division at the phone number: 602-771-2960 located at 1225 N. 25th Ave., Phoenix, AR 85009. Office hours are from 8 AM until 5 PM mountain time, Monday through Friday. You can read more about the Arizona pilot car regulations, requirements, permits, etc., on our regulations pages.
    2. Colorado.
      The state of Colorado requires that pilot car or escort company operators have a Colorado State Certification card when working within the Colorado state jurisdiction. However, Colorado does recognize certificates received from other states, such as Florida, Oklahoma, Washington, Utah, and the SC&RA. If you don’t have any other state certificate endorsements, you may contact RSA Network, Inc. by phone at 801–838–8199 to inquire about your Colorado State Certification testing. Visit our regulations pages for more information about Colorado regulations, requirements, permits, etc.
    3. Florida.
      Florida requires that pilot car or escort company operators have Florida State certification or FDOT authorization. Florida does recognize programs completed by bike pilot car drivers from the states of Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. To legally operate in the capacity of a pilot car or escort vehicle driver/company, you must obtain a certificate of completion from the Florida Department of Transportation pilot/escort training class. This class is offered by the Florida technology transfer center. Inquiries by phone: 352-392-2371 or e-mail: 12assist@ce.ufl.edu. One portion of the Florida State Law requires successful completion of a National Safety Council 8-hour defensive driving course qualified by the state of Florida (or equivalent) by one of the above-listed states. So if you have already completed a similar course, your credit may be transferable. Re-qualification is required every 4 years, and that can be done by contacting the University of Florida, PO Box 116587  Gainesville, FL  32611-6587.  You can read more about the Florida pilot car regulations, requirements, permits, etc., on our regulations pages.
    4. Georgia.
      The state of Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) requires pilot car or escort company operators to complete the Certified Escort Vehicle Program. In addition to this, you must have an “amber light permit” when operating a pilot car or escort vehicle within Georgia state lines. If you obtain an “amber light permit” AND have completed a pilot car or escort vehicle certification program through any of the following states: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah, or Arizona, you will more than likely be approved with proof of completion. The Georgia DOT also reciprocates directly with North Carolina, Florida, and Oklahoma pilot car certification programs. If you have any questions about the Georgia Oversize Permit Unit, you may contact them directly at 888-262-8306.  On our regulations pages, you can also read more about the Georgia state pilot car regulations, requirements, permits, etc.
    5. Louisiana.
      All escort and pilot car operators who wish to travel through or work in Louisiana are required to obtain a Louisiana Approved Escort Vehicle Permit. In addition, escort vehicle operators and pilot car company operators can obtain a Louisiana state escort vehicle permit at Louisiana weigh stations. The permits can also be obtained online at www.dotd.la.gov. Look for the quick links section on the right-hand side of the webpage and click on truck permits. Once you’ve reached the electronic permitting routing bridge analysis selection, select “submit an application” for annual permits, and you will get a list of annual permits on that page. The escort and pilot car vehicle permit portion will give you two options for applying. You can submit it online or print the PDF form and fax the completed application to the truck permit office at 225-377-7154. Any questions you may have regarding escort vehicle or pilot car driving permits can be addressed by calling: 800-654-1433 or 225-434-2345 and selecting option 1. On our regulations pages, you can also read more about the Louisiana state pilot car regulations, requirements, permits, etc.
    6. Minnesota.
      All escort vehicle and pilot car operators who wish to travel or work in Minnesota are required to be certified. The good old state of Minnesota has two different types of escorts. Civilian escorts and peace officers. Learn the difference between the two. Minnesota recognizes escort vehicle and pilot car operator certifications from the following states Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington. Currently, Minnesota requires drivers of pilot cars and escort vehicles to hold a current Minnesota State patrol certification. All pilot car companies and escort vehicle operators must travel with a copy of their certification when working within this state. If you’re an escort vehicle or pilot car operator with certification in the state of Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, or Washington, you will be allowed to escort over-dimensional loads within the state of Minnesota. However, you must have Minnesota insurance for the vehicle, the driver, the signage delighting, and all safety equipment requirements must be met. For more information, contact Erik Gohl at 952-995-1346, fax: 952-995-1331 (pilot car and escort driver class administrator at Hennepin Technical College,) or visit their website at  www.hennepintech.edu/cts/pages/1233. Customized training services are located at 13100 College View Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55347. On our regulations page, you can also read more about the Minnesota state pilot car regulations, requirements, and permits.
    7. Nevada.
      All pilot car operators and escort vehicles who wish to work in the state of Nevada must be certified and also obtain an amber light permit. At the time of this writing (May 16, 2018) the state of Nevada Department of Transportation does not have any particular specific certification program for pilot cars. However, they do have in place a rather lengthy amber light law. We would strongly suggest that anyone considering escorting loads through the state of Nevada obtain certification in another state with stringent laws such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, or Oklahoma. You will still need an amber light permit to operate an escort vehicle or pilot car within Nevada state jurisdiction. The amber light law basically states that it is unlawful for any person to mount a flashing amber warning light on the top of the vehicle without a permit from the Nevada Highway Patrol. The Nevada Highway Patrol will issue a permit to mount amber flashing lights on a vehicle upon written request. We suggest that readers such as yourself read our regulations page for the state of Nevada in order to research amber light specs such as how many times it flashes per minute and the distance it’s visible from. In addition to the amber light law if you anticipate stopping or slowing traffic you must comply with the stringent laws of the Nevada state flagman. If it is necessary to warrant approaching traffic, each flagman must be wearing a solid fluorescent yellow or green material jacket or vest and equipped with a red flag and paddle readings stop in white letters with a red background. The sign must be a standard 18-inch two-sided stop and slow sign and be attached to a 5-foot pole. For further clarification on other items required please see our regulations page for trucks pilot cars and escort vehicles operating within Nevada state jurisdiction.
    8. New Mexico.
      All pilot car and escort vehicle operators working within New Mexico need to be inspected at the port of entry for a New Mexico certification inspection. You must approach the port of entry before any load you may be escorting reaches any scale house upon entry. Once the pilot car or escort vehicle operators pull into the New Mexico port of entry, you are subject to inspection. The officer conducting the inspection will require you to have: 
      •  two amber lights
      • oversize escort signs
      • a two-way radio
      • a fire extinguisher
      • outside rearview mirrors
      • the condition of the tires
      • three red flares or reflectors
      • oversize escort signs
      • florescent orange or red flags 12 inches in size or larger
      • a safety jacket or vest with a hard hat.

      The vehicle requirements are: 

      • minimum of the 100-inch wheelbase
      • a maximum vehicle capacity of 1 1/2 tons
      • a valid current driver’s license
      • the terms of your insurance policy. 

      In addition, you can expect a full-on roadside intensive and thorough review of your vehicle and its equipment. Finally, escort vehicle and pilot car operators should refer to our New Mexico state regulations page for specific clarifications on vehicle specifications.

    9. New York.
      All pilot car and escort vehicle operators who intend to work within New York must be New York State certified. To be certified as an escort or pilot car driver, it’s mandatory for all drivers and any persons acting as flag persons to obtain New York state certification regardless of where they reside. From the best of our knowledge, no previous certification programs you may have completed will be accepted, credited, or otherwise considered. For a list of New York Department of motor vehicle testing locations, call 518-486-9748. For more information on getting certified or obtaining the New York certification manual, you can call 418-457-1155 or 800-783-1685. We suggest reading our New York state pilot car regulations, requirements, permits, etc., on our regulations pages.
    10. Oklahoma.
      All escort vehicles and pilot car operators who intend on working within the state of Oklahoma must be Oklahoma certified. Oklahoma Department of Public Safety does recognize certifications and other states that do have a reciprocal agreement. However, if the pilot car or escort vehicle operator is an Oklahoma State resident, they must have Oklahoma certification. The first order of business when operating a pilot car or escort vehicle within Oklahoma is the certificate of insurance. Escort and pilot car operators must provide not less than $1 million of combined single limit or commercial liability coverage per occurrence. Your insurance policy must protect the public against loss of life, bodily injury to persons, and damage to property or bowls due to operating an escort vehicle or pilot car, the escort or pilot car, the operator’s actions, or both. The state of Oklahoma will need to be listed as a certificate holder on your insurance certificate. To obtain your certificate from the department of public safety, you will be required to take the course and the examination offered by Oklahoma State University, phone 405-744-6049. The term of this certificate shall be for a maximum period of five years and will expire automatically after the date it was issued. For more information about the pilot car and escort vehicle specifications, please visit our Oklahoma state regulations page.
    11. Utah.
      All pilot car operators and escort vehicle drivers who intend on operating within the state of Utah must be certified and inspected at the Utah Port of Entry. Pilot car and escort vehicle operators who wish to obtain an authorized certification card may participate in an authorized qualified certification program. A list of authorized instructors can be obtained by calling 801-965-4892. Pilot car and escort company drivers that live outside of Utah may operate as a certified pilot car or escort driver with another State certification credentials provided that the course meets the minimum requirements outlined in the Utah pilot car and escort vehicle training manual. The department may decide to enter into a reciprocal agreement with other states. These other states can demonstrate that their course materials are comprehensive and meet the minimum requirements outlined by the Utah Department of Transportation. Such agreements already exist with the Utah Department of Transportation recognizing the states of Washington, North Carolina, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Florida. Any pilot car or escort driver certification expires four years from the certificate’s date. It’s the driver’s responsibility to maintain current certification and minimum insurance coverage of $750,000 for liability insurance. Upon entering the jurisdiction within Utah, it’s strongly advised you have a certificate of completion that’s valid and current with any of the states mentioned above. You are required to stop at the port of entry when entering Utah state jurisdiction. Please visit our regulations page for more detailed information about Utah state pilot car and escort vehicle requirements.
    12. Virginia.
      The state of Virginia does require that all pilot car and escort vehicle operators be certified before performing the duties of an oversize or overweight load pilot or escort vehicle operator within the Virginia state jurisdiction. The state of Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does recognize certification programs completed by applicants from the following states: Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington. However, you must still apply for escort/pilot car operator certification from the Virginia DMV. Pilot car and escort vehicle operators need to be aware they must carry their certification document from the state of Virginia while escorting any type of oversize or overweight vehicle configurations. You must have a valid driver’s license as well. If you are requested by law enforcement or the Department of Transportation enforcement officials, you must provide them with certificate program completion documentation. Failure to do so while escorting or piloting in an oversize configuration will cause the shipment to be delayed until the appropriate documents are in place or another company with documentation replaces you. Please visit our regulations page for more detailed information about Virginia state pilot car and escort vehicle requirements.
    13. Washington.
      2020 State Certifications for Pilot Cars & Escort Vehicles update in the state of Washington. You must be WA state certified to be able to operate. The state of Washington Department of Transportation does require a pilot car and escort vehicle operators to be certified by them. They recognize programs and certificates from the states of Utah, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Colorado; however, pilot car and escort vehicle operators who desire to operate within the state of Washington’s jurisdiction must be issued an official Washington state certificate. You can contact pilot/escort car flagging instructor Michael Blackman at 509-684-7632 or contact the Washington State Pilot Escort official Jim Wright at 360-704-6345. In addition, you may visit the official state information page at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/commercialvehicle/. Visit our regulations page if you want more detailed information about Washington state regulations, requirements, permits, etc.
pilot_car_required
Pilot cars or escort vehicles will be required to move a shipment of this size. Some states may require special certification.

State Requirements for Pilot Cars and Escort Vehicles Change From Time to Time

Note that state requirements for pilot cars and escort vehicles change from time to time. This page aims to provide you with updated information that includes the rules and regulations of the states that do require pilot car drivers and escort vehicle drivers to have special certifications. It should be noted this page was written as an essential guide for pilot car companies and escort vehicle operators to use when researching which states do require certification. We strongly suggest that if you are considering operating in any state under the capacity of a pilot car or escort, each state you intend to work in will be contacted directly by you before entering that state. In addition, always refer to the instructions on the actual permit issued from the state for that particular over-dimensional or heavy haul load. The permit should list all responsibilities and detail and clarify any additional questions you may have during transit. In closing, remember that your number one job is public safety as an escort vehicle driver or pilot car operator.

See also:

How to start a pilot car company
Pilot car regulations
Heavy-haul/oversize trucking quotes

17 Responses

  1. i am in California. want to be a Pilot escort driver. seems CA doesnt need a certificate, I am wondering what kinda vehicle I should have to do that with? i would like to see if I can work for a company ?

  2. Looking to obtains My escort license certificate in Houston Texas can anyone help me to know where I go

  3. Would like to do this on my days off from my current employer part time I have no certificate or a truck but have a jeep pilot almost new and almost paid off would like some company that is willing to train to help me out with getting started if interested please email me

    1. You will need to get yourself set-up first. The quickest, most accurate way we know of is to use our information kit which is also affordable. Basically what we give you here is the transparent truth and direct place to get the things you need to get going. We also offer support to you as well as give you a 1 year premium ad on PiloTrac ($100 value) to help offset your start up costs. You can read more about the start up kit and save 50% off here.

  4. I’m trying to see if any escort services are hiring? I don’t have my own vehicle but do have a great driving record.

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