Pilot Vehicles

Submitted: Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 16:16
ThreadID: 109715 Views:3080 Replies:10 FollowUps:17
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Gday,
Just something to keep in mind while travelling..........
Last week on the way back to work a group of us travelling in a twin cab truck passed a pilot vehicle going the other way. Soon after we came to a bridge, and still no sign of any other vehicles, our driver proceeded across the bridge.............BAD MOVE!
Half way across the bridge a wide load carrying a house enters the bridge with no hope off stopping........our driver locks it up, slams it into reverse and reverses off the bridge and off the side of the road. The wide load come flying passed us missing by a couple of feet leaving his gears all over the road.
The problem was the pilot called the bridge shut bovver the 40 channel assuming we had it on , which we did, but on a different channel!
We called up the pilot and told him what happened and he told us the bridge was closed and secured and we shouldn't have entered the bridge.
Personaly......if I was driving I wouldn't have driven onto the bridge without calling up the pilot but legally, he should have stopped all traffic from entering the bridge before calling the wide load across not just sprouted something over the raio and assumed we heared.
After quite a heated discussion and a few other trucks joining in and having ago at the pilot we conveniently lost radio contact with him......

Just something to keep in mind.......Cheers
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 17:02

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 17:02
Good post oh Hairy one.

Nearly got caught out myself a couple of months ago while travelling in the Territory.
A pilot vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, lights flashing, all the guff.
As we rounded a bend we came upon a bridge. I pulled over before the bridge and the Mrs (alias the navigator) wanted to know why. She's like that...lol.
I said told her that where there is a pilot vehicle there will be an oversize load.
It seemed longer but we waited a fair while and eventually, yep along came the wide load.
Why the pilot was so far in front???? Who knows!!!

Cheers
Pop
AnswerID: 539919

Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 17:15

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 17:15
Yeah.......not bagging out all pilots but they seemed to have dropped their standards over the years.
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 19:23

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 19:23
Hairy

You are spot on re the last para of your OP. He should have held you there until it was quite apparent to you what the situation was, either visually OR by confirmation from you over the radio that you had received and understood the instruction re closed bridge.

Some pilots are very good - you can hear them approaching and interacting with oncoming vehicles so you know what to expect when it is your turn.

Others only seem bothered to directly talk with larger vehicles and so we rely on what they have said to these larger ones or occasionally we are treated as "large" as we are 2.4m wide.

It is this wide variation in approach that results in more confusion.

We "met" 2 houses on the Barrier Hwy early last week and there was no doubt about what was required - pilot vehicle - with UHF announcements on 40, followed by 2 Police escorts, the first straddling the centre line, the second in our lane :-)

The about 20 mins later, it was the turn of 2 dump trucks - again taking up both lanes

Cheers
Andrew
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:20

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:20
Maybe they have Hairy.... I retired my Troopy and sacked myself.

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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:41

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:41
Pop
When I was working I would go well out in front too, the reason is that in the North we have in Australia Road Trains, they need more time to find a good spot to pull over , especially Stock trucks , they need to keep the trailers on level ground, one fell over North of Emerald back in 2005, . Another problem can be Tankers , I was rear pilot on this Job Katherine to Adelaide River Railway Station, the 3rd Trailer loaded with Diesel fell over, lucky it was not Petrol or the highway would have been closed.





So again here is the results of the lead pilot not being far enough in front, we did have 1 Police escort but maybe 2 would have been ideal with 1 of the police well in front too.

So next time you visit the Adelaide River Rail Precinct and see the Fetlers House you'll know old Doug T helped get it there.

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Reply By: skulldug - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 17:41

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 17:41
Hairy,

At last we agree, If you can't see there - don't go there unless you can stop in time.

Cheers

Skull
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Reply By: Slow one - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 17:50

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 17:50
Hairy,
with one escort it would have been a oversize donga and not a house. Having said that some pilots are not up to speed in stopping vehicles or communicating, I know as I have got up a few over the years.

I just hope they know what the law states, re the widths and the responsibility for the load including load restraint. I have heard it many times on the radio where the pilot and driver blames a little one or van, when in fact they just want to get from a to b without slowing down. They always have the option to cross a narrow area and stop vehicles as you said. If a little one or van can't run the fog line safely then he should slow and ask others to pull over.

I have even seen a driver arrive with a D10 and blade on the back and ask, have you seen my escort, and this was just on dawn. Guess there are problems with all drivers no matter what they are operating.





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Reply By: Axle - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 19:02

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 19:02
Jeez! mate you where lucky,.. Bet .the back seat was a mess after that eposide..lol.

I hate it when your in another truck ,and they frantically try to wave you over with the wide load right behind them, and its not really easy to scoot off over to the edge of the road.


Cheers Axle.
AnswerID: 539928

Reply By: Top End Az - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 19:54

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 19:54
I travel around Oz every year, but never see the requirement of having a rear pilot vehicle with a big sign on it saying WIDE LOAD with an oversize truck in front of it you can't see around. I kinda already know its a wide load.

On a separate note; I know pilots have their jobs to do, but don't appreciate having one travelling towards me on my side of the road flashing his lights almost causing head on collision. I know there is a wide load coming. I can see the bloody thing.
AnswerID: 539930

Follow Up By: Batt's - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 20:14

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 20:14
You might not try to pass a wide load but there are plenty of idiots that will cross into the other lane and onto the emergency stopping verge trying to look around or get past an 8 mtr wide load which I have seen happen a few times in the Bowen Basin that's why there is a pilot at the rear to protect people from their own stupidity.
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Follow Up By: Top End Az - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 20:35

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 20:35
I see. Hard to comprehend what goes through some peoples minds. Clearly a lot of idiots out there to justify the extra pilot. We caught a wide convey between Roma and Longreach. Instead of sitting behind them for ages we pulled over and had lunch and a rest. Back on the road again and never saw them since,
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 21:27

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 21:27
Come up to Mackay and do a few trips on the Peak Downs Hwy and you'll see what sort of idiots your sharing the road with.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 01:09

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 01:09
Until you've done a serious amount of piloting and float driving as I have, you cannot grasp the idiocy of a sizeable proportion of the population when they get behind the wheel.

I've been waving oncoming traffic off onto the shoulder when I was piloting a 4.5M load South from Kalgoorlie to Kambalda - and an old bloke towing a 'van stopped dead in his tracks, right smack bang in his lane, and refused to move over.

I pulled up alongside him and said, "you'll have to pull off onto the shoulder, mate, there's a 4.5M wide load following".
His answer? "BUT! - BUT! - BUT!! - This is MY SIDE of the road!!"

My float driver had to slow right down and swerve around him, the idiot refused to move from his stopped position.

Another time, the driver of my 100 tonne float was travelling Perth to Kalgoorlie, doing about 70kmh with one of my Liebherr diggers on board (102 tonnes load and 4.3M wide) - and he pulled left as far as he could to let some traffic pass - and a woman in a Falcon towing a 'van tried to overtake him.

She ran off the shoulder of the bitumen, lost control, overcorrected, spun left, drove the Falcon into the RHF wheel of the Mack, and then promptly rolled the Falcon and 'van into the side of the truck!!

She flattened the RHF tyre of the Mack, ripped the RHF mudguard off and badly damaged one of the fuel tanks on the Mack.
Brad, my driver, had to try and bring the float to an emergency stop with a flat RHF tyre hampering his control - and worrying about where the car and 'van had ended up! (the Falcon ended up being thrown back off the road, and the woman and her passenger were only slightly injured).

I could fill pages with stories about stupidity involving wide loads, escorting, and clowns who won't stop for anything - but this isn't the place for it.
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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 19:22

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 19:22
"I could fill pages with stories about stupidity involving wide loads, escorting, and clowns who won't stop for anything - but this isn't the place for it."
Be an interesting thread, though! Why not spend a few hours, compile it all and start a new thread "Idiots I have (almost) known!"

You're welcome!
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Follow Up By: Member - Errol (York WA) - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 22:30

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 22:30
Couldn't agree more Ron N. I probably have pasted you many times in my truck between Cunderdin and Perth. The things I've seen people do on the road. I just can't comprehend where they got lincence from. Errol
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Reply By: Batt's - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 20:18

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 20:18
I thought that once a load is over a certain width that the police were involved in the escort to make sure people do pull over so the road is clear and safe for the wide load to proceed I could be wrong though.
AnswerID: 539931

Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 00:48

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 00:48
I can't speak for the other states - but in W.A., it used to be that when a load is wider than 4.9M, then a police escort was needed.

However, in W.A. police have now been removed from the job of escorting oversize, and appointed "traffic wardens" now carry out the job, using Govt-supplied escort vehicles.
These "traffic wardens are often recently retired police. My BIL is one.

In W.A., anyone wanting to pilot an oversize load must be an "accredited pilot" - i.e., they have to take an "accredited pilot" course and be approved by the Commissioner of Police in W.A.

It used to be that pilots were required to keep a minimum of 200M in front of the oversize vehicle. That requirement has now been deleted.

The instructions given to pilots about controlling oncoming traffic are hazy at best, and open to interpretation by the individual pilot.
There is a requirement to broadcast oversize dimensions on CH40 every 15 mins. However, possibly 2/3rds of the vehicles on the road don't carry a UHF, so it's up to the pilot to ensure he gives clear instructions to oncoming traffic.

In the case of tight fit passing areas, or extra wide loads, it always used to be standard technique to wave oncoming vehicles off onto the shoulder.
However a lot of pilots no longer seem to do this and rely on radio communications alone.
In the case of bridges and other narrow sections of road, it is up to the pilot to ensure that there's minimal possibility of conflict when passing oversize vehicles.

At a bare minimum, the pilot should be driving his vehicle in a position on the road, that indicates where the outside of the wide load is travelling.
In most cases, that means driving up the centre line and ensuring that oncoming traffic is braking and pulling over.
If the pilot sees a vehicle that has passed him and it isn't pulling over, he should be warning the driver of the oversize load via radio.

Most pilots are responsible - however the sheer boredom of piloting gets to many pilots and they sometimes slacken off their attention to the job and fail to alert oncoming traffic in time.

I've been caught on the eastern part of the Eyre Hwy in Western S.A. in the late 1990's - I was travelling West with a 3.5M load (no escort needed) and rounding a bend in timbered country at about 80kmh, when a pilot suddenly appeared and flashed past me about 100kmh.

I grabbed the mike and asked how wide he was, and as he came back instantly with "5.2M!" - the wide load suddenly appeared in front of me, going like the clappers!

It was a tight section of road, and we only just missed each other!
I was annoyed that the pilot was so close to his oversize load - it could have disastrous if we'd passed where the road clearance was inadequate. As it was, we were both hanging off the edge of the shoulder, with no more room to spare.
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Reply By: TomH - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 20:40

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 20:40
Lesson learned Always monitor truck channel.
AnswerID: 539932

Reply By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:46

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:46
I was asked some time ago by another website to write an article about Pilot Vehicles and Oversize loads, here's the link .

Heavy Vehicle Road Courtesy






I was recently asked by a website in Chicago USA to write an article about a particular singer ...but that's another story...you might find it on my Facebook.

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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 13:04

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 13:04
Thanks Hairy,

Sounds like a "hairy" ride. :-) Worst of not always being the designated driver, eh.

In my limited experience, I've found most pilots/escorts to be very professional. Some are a bit "serious", but others are laid back, but do their job well ie: keep oncoming drivers fully aware of what's coming or going on, and often offering parking advice to any "heavies", and caravaners(who are astute enough to have UHF, and have it on Ch 40).

Not always the big fellars and 'vans who need a bit of notice to find a park either. We were heading down to Townsville in July, when heard chatter on '40' about a 10 metre load, somewhere up ahead. First escort was well out in front, maybe 5 clicks, and we managed to find a reasonable park. But trouble is my XR6 is lower than a snake's doudenum, and with the recently upgraded highway, it took some delicate manuvering to get the sedan off the bitumen, down the shoulder and across the table drain without leaving most of the under carriage still on the highway. By the way, there were 2 lead escorts, 2 police vehicles and one rear escort.



Few months ago, a mate was heading back towards Mt Isa, on Barkly Highway, in a quad. While this is now an excellent stretch of highway, many of the shoulders are quite steep, and offer little opportunity for a triple, quad or in fact any heavy, to get off the road easily, if at all.

Next minute, he's confronted by an escort, travelling west, and given very little information by the escort. He did manage to find enough room to give the oversize room to pass, but not before he'd berated the escort driver, for being totally unprofessional and, knowing the mate, probably casting some doubt on her breeding too.

As for the Oversize drivers, they "ooze" professionalism. Reckon most of them could drive a 6M load down an aisle at Woolies or Coles, without disturbing a tin of baked beans, or opening a packet of Corn Flakes. :-)

Bob



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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 14:04

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 14:04
Bob, I'd like to believe you on the truck driver professionalism, but unfortunately, the number of serious truck accidents on a weekly basis leads me to believe the professionalism of a percentage is in doubt.

One of the most amazing things I've ever sighted - I was driving South down the Roe Hwy from Midland in the late 1990's and coming up to the Gt Eastern Hwy bypass, T-junction on the right.

To my utter amazement, I spotted a complete, 1950's HOUSE, sitting right on the centre median strip, in the middle of Roe Hwy!

I got to the scene, trying to figure out why a house would be sitting on a median strip in the centre of Roe Hwy? - then it suddenly dawned on me what had happened.

A house transporter moving the house had been coming East up the Gt Eastern Hwy Bypass, and had barrelled full-speed into a left turn into Roe Hwy on the green light.

The house was sitting on steel beams on the float - and the chains had snapped when he wheeled her around the corner too fast - and the entire house and steel beams had just slid straight off the float - and landed perfectly in one piece on the centre median strip, in the middle of Roe Hwy!!

I reckon he wouldn't have lived that one down for a lot of years to come!

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Sir Kev & Darkie - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 18:16

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 18:16
Bob,

That truck and trailer looks familiar, can you remember who the House Remover was, if it is the one I am thinking it would have only been on the trailer as he had only just replaced his truck.


Cheers Kev
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 19:17

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 19:17
No Kev, didn't notice any name on it at the time.

Just blew the original up, and the trailer doesn't appear to have a name on it, at least not on the side. The prime mover has blue flames on front of bunk, door and the bonnet, if that sounds familiar? Also been "tricked" up with those LED headlights, and some extra bling on the windscreen protector.

Bob

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Follow Up By: Sir Kev & Darkie - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 19:25

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 19:25
Thanks Bob,

It looks very much like the truck and trailer set up of Bill Chappell a House remover from Tara.
He moved a house from Mackay to Muckadilla and was curious if this was the house :)

Cheers Kev


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Follow Up By: Alan S (WA) - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 22:21

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 22:21
Ron

Early 1990's, probably 1994 , I remember it. The other half was parked on the side for a few days following it.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Oct 06, 2014 at 01:41

Monday, Oct 06, 2014 at 01:41
Alan - Yes, that's probably the correct year, I thought it was later in the '90's.
I do remember now, I was driving my HDJ80, and I sold that in 1995.
And yes, I do recall the other half of the load sitting by the side of the Roe Hwy for a few days after the "interesting event".
My workshop was in Bellevue at that time, in Military Rd, so I was hanging around the area a lot, all through the 90's.
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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 23:30

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 23:30
There's only one thing I find frustrating with Road Pilots, and it is Australia wide.

With very few exceptions, they won't broadcast width information to caravans. Almost every time I see a wide load approaching I have to ask for the info, although they quite happily broadcast the info to oncoming trucks.

Every time I ask why they don't volunteer the info the answer is: we don't call caravans because they never reply.

Well, what's more important: disseminating the info via a blind broadcast or having a warm and fuzzy conversation with other road users?

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