2022 Tennessee State Shipping Laws, Rules, Regulations, and Limitations for Oversize and Heavy-haul Trucking
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Do I Need a Trucking Permit? Legal Load Limits in Tennessee
Tennessee maximum load limits until a trucking permit are required.
Length: 50 feet from the kingpin to the rear of the trailer or load that is on the trailer. Any type of pole shipping that exceeds 75 feet overall will require an oversize transport permit to be issued.
Width: 8 feet 6 inches wide.
Height: 13 feet and 6 inches tall.
Weight: 80,000 pounds gross (GVW).
Overhang: 4 feet in the rear (requires a 12-inch red safety flag) and 4 feet in the front.
Routine Oversize and Heavy-haul Trucking Permits in Tennessee
These maximum dimensions/weights are considered routine oversize or heavy-haul trucking permits in Tennessee:
Length: 120 feet long overall.
Width: 16 feet wide. Anything that is in excess of 4 inches from either/both sides of the trailer is required to be flagged in front and rear. Flags must be 12 inches square minimum and safety colored orange or red.
Height: 15 feet about does it for max height in TN on most routes. At 15 feet in height, you can count on being required to have a high pole (hi pole) escort.
Weight: Single axle 20,000 lbs, tandem axles 40,000 lbs, tridem axles 60,000 lbs, quadem axles, 80,000 lbs. Gross weight on 5 axles is 100,000 pounds, 6 axles 120,000 pounds, 7 axles 140,000 pounds, 8 axles 160,000 pounds. Once you hit 150,000 pounds that’s in TN. You’re going to have to be granted special permission for your shipment to move.
Overhang: Depends on routing. 10 feet is probably not going to be a problem but much more than that is going to create delays. Over 1/3 of actual item being shipped length is not going to go over real well. Consider a different trailer is you are time-sensitive. If the shipment is extended beyond 4 feet from the rear of the trailer red safety flags a minimum of 12 inches square are required on both sides.
Tennessee Superload Information
Requirements for extra heavy or extra-dimensional (superloads) in Tennessee:
Shipments that are defined as super-loads are typically any that exceed any of the weights or dimensions described above in routine oversize and heavy-haul trucking permits. Shipments that are in excess of 15 feet in height or 16 feet in width will not be allowed to travel via conventional permits if they are a public safety factor including potential property damages. Shipments that exceed 16 feet in height are seriously frowned upon in the state of TN and will require additional approval to be considered for permitting.
Legal Travel Times for Oversize and Heavy Haul Loads in Tennessee
Travel times and restrictions in Tennessee:
The one-half hour before sunrise and one-half hour after sunset, the basic rule applies. No travel on Sunday. If overweight only continuous travel is permitted. Night time travel for overweight is not a problem as long as the minimum speed limit can be maintained by the carrier. Anything other than overweight is daylight travel only for the most part unless otherwise specified on your permit. In cities and high-density traffic areas travel may be restricted between 7 and 9 AM and 4 and 6 PM on weekdays – be sure to refer to your permit. On the following holidays, no travel is permitted:
- New Years’ Day
- Good Friday
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
The Tennessee state DOT permit office is closed on these days as well and additionally on: Martin Luther King day, Presidents day, Columbus day, Veterans day, and the day after Thanksgiving. However, travel is not restricted on any of these days if it is not on a Sunday unless otherwise specified on your permit. Note that failure to comply with designated travel time restrictions can result in the carrier/shipment being placed on permit issue restriction for 365 days. Inclement weather such as ice, snow, rain, wind, and anything that restricts reasonable visibility is observed. For more information on TN road conditions.
When Pilot Cars or Escort Vehicles Are Required in Tennessee
Heavy-haul or oversize loads may be required to be accompanied by an escort vehicle or pilot car if:
- 75 feet to 85 feet you may be permitted to use an amber strobe light.
- 85 feet requires 1 pilot car.
- 120 feet requires 2 pilot cars.
2 lane roads:
- 10 feet requires 1 pilot car unless the pavement is 24 feet wide from edge line (white line on the side) to edge line.
- 14 feet requires 1 pilot car and 1 escort vehicle.
4 lane roads:
- 12 feet 6 inches requires 1 escort vehicle.
- 14 feet requires 1 pilot car and 1 escort vehicle.
- 15 feet will require a pilot car equipped with a height pole.
Notes: Combination loads are not permitted if two oversize dimensions exist. Example: a bulldozer with a wide blade and another piece of machinery that is too tall on one single trailer. Blades and buckets on bulldozers or grading machinery are common examples. All oversize machinery must be loaded onto a trailer with extremities facing towards the rear of the trailer. Any machinery shipments with blades or buckets, etc. that are in excess of 13 feet and 6 inches will not be permitted unless removed from the machinery
Length: For overall lengths of up to 85 feet you can get by with a rotating or strobing amber light. If a shipment is over 85 feet and 1 inch in length you will be required to have 1 pilot car (escort vehicle). If your shipment combination is over 120 feet in length you be required to have 2 pilot cars or escort vehicles.
Width: If a shipment is under 10 feet wide you will need no pilot cars (escorts). Shipments 10 feet 1 inch to 12 feet wide will require 1 pilot car on a 2-lane road if the distance from one side of the road to the other is less than 24 feet in width with the shoulder size excluded in measurement. If your load is over 12 feet (up to 14 feet) wide you will be required to have 1 front and 1 rear pilot car (escort vehicle) on all 2-lane roads and highways. If your load measures 12 feet to 14 feet in width and you are traveling on a 4-lane highway you will only be required to have 1 rear pilot car (escort vehicle). If your shipment is 14 feet to 16 feet in the width you will be required to have 1 front and 1 rear pilot car (escort vehicle).
Height: If the height of the load exceeds 15 feet a front high pole vehicle is required.
Weight: If the shipment is able to maintain minimum speeds no escort vehicle is required.
Overhang: This is determined on a case-by-case basis. It will depend on your proposed routing. If you have any additional information on overhang please comment below in order to help others. Thank you.
NOTE: Mobile homes exception. All mobile homes up to 16 feet wide will be required to have 1 front and 1 rear pilot car. Mobile homes are also allowed to travel on every day except for Sundays. Travel times are from 9 am until 4 pm with all-day travel permitted on Saturdays.
Pilot Car and Escort Vehicle Requirements and Certifications in Tennessee
Pilot car or escort vehicle mandatory operator certifications and vehicle requirements in Tennessee:
NOTE BE ADVISED NEW LAWS FOR 2018 WILL BE RELEASED VERY SOON. Tennessee state shipping regulations state that all pilot cars/escort vehicles must display either both bumpers or 1 roof-mounted “OVERSIZE LOAD” or “WIDE LOAD” sign (whichever is applicable) visible from both the front and rear of the vehicle and only the displayed while working. The sign must be at least 5′ long but no greater than 7′ and 12″ in height but no greater than 18″ in height, yellow in color with black letters no less than 8″ in height but no more than 10″ in height and lettering must be a minimum of 1.4″ in width. Vehicle must be equipped with 2 horizontally mounted rotating (if rotating 8″ base is required) (or strobe) amber colored flashing or strobe light which must be visible from a 360-degree angle from a minimum of 500 feet. Vehicles must be equipped with a CB radio or 2-way communication device and be in constant communication with all parties assigned to the movement.
It is our opinion that pilot cars also have a minimum of the additional items but not required: 2 – 5 pound fire extinguishers type A, B, and C, a paddle sign with the word “STOP” on one side, and “SLOW” on the other with dimensions of no less than 18″ in diameter with a minimum of 6″ letters. A red safety-colored flag with a handle no less than 18″ square, 3 reflective emergency road triangles or 18″ traffic cones, 8 burning road flares, 2 OVERSIZE LOAD banners (yellow with black lettering), and a safety colored (red, orange, yellow or lime green) vest, jacket or shirt (used while directing traffic). Also, see FHA Best Practices for pilot cars.
Tennessee DOT and permit contact information.
Tennessee DOT office and permit contact information and notes:
Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT)
James K Polk State Office Building, Suite 300 (permits office is Suite 800)
505 Deaderick Street, 3rd floor
Nashville, TN 37243-0031
Email: See above.
Telephone number: 615-741-3821 (no answer after 4:15)
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 4:30 pm (closed from 12-1 PM). Personal visits from 9-3 PM except for lunch hour.
Central Time Zone
Notes: Special permits are valid for 6 days and must be obtained prior to entering the state. Annual permits are available in TN.
Click here for oversize and heavy-haul trucking permits.
The information contained in these pages is research information primarily for use by oversize and overweight trucking company drivers, dispatchers and pilot car companies. While every effort is put into maintaining the accuracy of this information you must absolutely verify this information with the Tennessee State DOT Permits office before commencing movement.