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Over Dimensional Freight: Shipping Huge Objects Made Easy

Last Modified: November 29, 2022
Over dimensional freight is difficult to transport. With our tips, we guarantee you’ll be able to ship this kind of freight successfully.

By

Jacob Lee
June 6, 2022
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Everyone has passed an over dimensional freight load while driving down the highway at some point or another. What many people don’t know, is that there are many rigors that come with transporting these types of loads. Freight of this category is so large, that it can’t be transported within the confines of a normal dry van trailer. Additionally, numerous requirements must be met before this type of freight can be hauled down the road. 

Over dimensional loads consist of freight that is not within the confines of legal size requirements of a state. Regulations to move this freight vary by state, but they usually require permits and safety equipment to accompany the load. Special loading procedures, trailers and escort vehicles are used to transport the freight.

We’ll go more in-depth as to what constitutes over dimensional freight, the regulations to transport it and how it is loaded.

What Is Over Dimensional Freight?

As we stated above, what constitutes as over dimensional freight can vary across states. However, most states claim that freight that fits in this category as having dimensions greater than:

  • 8 feet, 6 inches in width
  • 13 feet, 16 inches in height
  • 53 feet in length
  • 80,000 pounds in weight

It’s important to note that over dimensional freight is sometimes referred to as an oversized load. Despite the slightly different names, both of them refer to the same type of freight. 

Let R+L Global Logistics find you an over dimensional freight carrier to transport your shipment.

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

Over Dimensional Freight Regulations

Yellow trucks each with over dimensional freight on their trailers parked next to each other

Just like how the dimensions of an oversized load can vary from state to state, so too are the regulations for transporting the freight. That said, you can expect that each state will require that some combination of these requirements are completed for them to allow over dimensional freight to be transported within their borders. 

Permits

Regardless of the state you transport oversized freight through, you can count on needing a permit. Over dimensional freight permits require a certain bit of information regarding your load. Some of this information includes:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Type of load
  • Destination

To get a permit for an oversized load, you will have to pay a fee. The cost of the fee will vary by state and by the type of load being transported, but will typically be around $15 to $25. If a carrier transported over dimensional freight frequently through a certain state, they can set up an account with them. With this account, the state can reduce the application fee for a permit, thus reducing the cost of future loads. 

Permits for over dimensional loads will also describe further regulations that will need to be followed for the freight to be transported. Some of the regulations that will be outlined in the permit are:

  • Route the freight must travel
  • Safety equipment that must be used
  • Escort vehicles
  • Running times for the load
  • How much the fee will cost

Oversized shipment permits will be assigned and active for only a limited time. That amount of time is determined by when the permit was requested. You can expect to pay the fee for the permit to either the state's Department of Transportation or their Department of Revenue. 

For more information on how to move massive shipments, check out our article on project cargo.

Safety Equipment

A bulldozer being hauled on a flatbed trailer

Using safety equipment is another regulation that is often required to ship over dimensional freight. The purpose of safety equipment is to bring the attention of other drivers on the road to the freight being transported. This will draw more attention to the freight from drivers on the road so they’ll drive more carefully. 

Safety equipment that is used for over dimensional freight includes:

  • Warning signs
  • Flags 
  • Lights
  • Sign or banner

In the case of signs or banners, the words “WIDE LOAD“ or “OVERSIZED LOAD” must be printed on them. These signs and banners need to be placed across the front of the truck and on the back of the load. 

States that allow over dimensional freight to be transported at night will need lights to operate. Lights will also be required if the over dimensional freight is being transported in weather conditions where there’s reduced visibility. Certain states will even require a light atop the cab of the truck hauling the freight. 

Some states will recognize the safety equipment of different states. However, you should never assume this to be the case. When you apply for an oversized load permit in another state, ask if they will respect the safety equipment regulations of the state you're over dimensional freight will be traveling from.  

Escort Vehicles

Providing escort vehicles for over dimensional freight is a regulation that’s a little bit rare. Most states will not require an escort vehicle to accompany an oversized freight shipment unless it’s over 10 feet in width. Very few states require escort vehicles for all types of over dimensional freight shipments. 

Oversized freight shipments will require either one escort vehicle or two, depending on the overall size of the over dimensional freight. If a state allows over dimensional freight to be transported at night, then escort vehicles will be required, regardless of the overall size of the freight. 

If your freight is traveling from a state that does not require escort vehicles into a state that does, then you can simply have the escort vehicles meet you at that border of the two states. Doing this will ensure that you comply with each state’s regulations. 

For more in-depth information about escort vehicles, look into our article about oversize load pilot cars.

Running Times

Running times refer to what hours over dimensional freight is permitted to travel. States vary widely on when they will allow over dimensional freight to be transported. Some states require that over dimensional freight be transported only during the day, while other states will allow night transportation of over dimensional freight under certain circumstances. 

For example, certain states may restrict the transportation of over dimensional freight at night on state highways, but will allow them to be transported on interstates. Another factor that can impact the night travel of over dimensional freight is the width of the load. 

Some states will restrict loads wider than 10 feet to daylight travel only. On the other hand, freight that is 10 feet in width or smaller can be transported during the night. 

Axles

Weight and axle regulations were created to protect U.S. bridges. This means that having the right amount of axles, along with the proper amount of weight distributed between all of them, is another important regulation that states will require you to follow. As with the regulations above, the amount of axles and how much weight they carry all depends on the state. 

Certain states will require five axles to transport over dimensional freight. Others will require only six axles. Federal regulations state that single axles are only permitted to carry 20,000 pounds of weight. Many states follow this requirement. That said, some states do allow single axles to carry slightly more or even less weight depending on the circumstances.  

States also have tandem axle weight requirements. The tandem weight is the weight distributed across two or more consecutive axles. These axles can be spaced apart from one another by more than 40 inches, but less than 96 inches. 

Federal regulations require that the tandem axle weight does not exceed 34,000 pounds. As with the state regulations for single axles, state regulations may allow more or less weight to be carried by tandem axles. 

The reason for these discrepancies in axle regulations is due to “grandfather” rights. When the Interstate System gross weight and axle limits (which created axle regulations) were enacted in 1956 and later amended in 1975, states were allowed to keep their own regulations if they wanted.

Therefore, if you’re ever unsure as to whether or not you should abide by federal or state regulations, you can abide by state regulations without the worry of repercussions. 

Transporting over dimensional freight is a rigorous process. Let R+L Global Logistics help find a qualified and reliable carrier that specialized in the transportation of over dimensional freight. 

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

How Is Over Dimensional Freight Transported?

A wind turbine being resting on multiple trailers

Over dimensional freight is transported on flatbed trailers. Due to the excessive size of over dimensional freight, regular dry van trailers are unable to fit this type of freight within them. Flatbed trailers are not restricted by these confines, which makes them perfect for over dimensional freight. 

There are a variety of flatbed trailers, each of which with its own unique and distinct advantages. Some of these trailers are:

  • Standard flatbed trailer
  • Step deck trailer
  • Removable gooseneck trailer
  • Lowboy trailer double drop deck extendable trailer
  • Landoll trailer 

If you need a flatbed trailer, but don’t know how much it will cost, check out our article on flatbed shipping rates. This article will help you calculate how much it will cost to use a flatbed trailer, which you can then factor into the total cost of shipping. 

How Is Over Dimensional Freight Loaded?

Construction equipment on a parked flatbed truck and trailer

The method for loading over dimensional freight onto a flatbed trailer for transport can slightly vary. Depending on what type of over dimensional freight needs to be transported, the type of equipment needed to load it will change. 

Lifting the Freight

The way that over dimensional freight is lifted is the part of the loading process that can change the most. Depending on the width, height and weight of the over dimensional freight, a forklift or a crane will have to be used to lift it. 

Forklifts tend to be the go-to option when an oversized load of smaller proportions needs to be lifted. For over dimensional freight that weighs more than what a forklift can carry, cranes are the next best choice. Cranes can not only lift more weight, but they can also hoist oversized freight with more excessive dimensions. 

Securing the Freight

Once over dimensional freight is lifted and placed on a flatbed trailer, the next part of the loading process is to secure the freight to the trailer. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, over dimensional freight can be secured to a flatbed trailer in a variety of ways.

For example, freight that can roll should be secured using a wedge or chock. Other types of freight should be tiedown and the number of tie-downs that should be used will vary based on the size or weight of the freight.  

Covering the Freight

The downside to flatbed trailers is that any freight that’s being transported on one will be exposed to the elements. Therefore, you might need to cover the freight you’re transporting with a tarp. This can be done by fastening a tarp to either the freight itself or to the flatbed. 

Certain types of over-dimensional freight won’t need a tarp protecting them, for example, a mobile home. That said, over dimensional freight like aerospace equipment, which has many fragile components, will need the protection of a tarp. 

How Much Does It Cost To Ship Over Dimensional Freight?

over dimensional freight being transported on a flatbed trailer

There is no definitive price that applies to over dimensional freight. The price to ship your over dimensional freight will vary based on what type of freight is being transported. That said, the table below shows the price to ship common types of over dimensional freight

Types Of Over Dimensional Freight and the Cost To Ship It

Mobile Home$700 to $3,500
Heavy Equipment$600 to $2,000
Solar Panel$150 to $400
Boats$450 to $2,850

R+L Global Logistics Can Transport Your Over Dimensional Freight

Finding a carrier who will transport over dimensional freight requires a lot of research on your part. Save yourself the trouble and let R+L Global Logistics solve that problem for you! With our connection of carriers, we guarantee that we can pair you with a great carrier. Fill out your quote and get a carrier that can move your over dimensional freight with ease. 

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.
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