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Transporting Heavy Equipment in Texas

Last Modified: July 26, 2022
Transporting heavy equipment in Texas comes with its own set of rules and restrictions.


Ask Truckload
January 13, 2020
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Your company hauls many items regularly, but when transporting heavy equipment in Texas, you might need a bit of extra help. For instance, which trailer should you use for hauling construction equipment and other heavy machinery? What are the rules for heavy equipment shipping in the United States, especially Texas?

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles or TXDMV determines the rules on transporting heavy equipment in Texas. Once a load exceeds legal weight, then you must get a permit to transport the load on Texas highways and roads.

What’s the legal weight limit? What kind of permit would you need? We’ll answer those questions and more in this informative article, so keep reading.

Texas Heavy Haul RegulationsTexas Heavy Haul Regulations

As noted above, the Texas DMV mandates that freight haulers need to have a permit if their load is considered overweight or oversized. A load can be overweight if the axle weight is too heavy or if the gross weight is excessive. 

Here’s more information on each of these areas:

  • Axles: When calculating axle weight, a single axle or both axles can be tallied up. The allowable axle weight limit varies from state to state in the US. The Texas DMV provides guidance on oversize weight limits. A single axle cannot weigh more than 20,000 pounds, a tandem axle group more than 34,000 pounds, a triple axle group more than 42,000 pounds, and a quad axle group more than 50,000 pounds. Super load transport requires even more axles. By ensuring you distribute weight and load evenly, you can regulate axle weight more easily.
  • Gross weight: The gross weight includes the freight vehicle’s cargo, container, chassis, and tractor. Again, per the TXDMV, the max gross weight your freight vehicle can be is 80,000 pounds.

Texas also limits vehicles based on size. If a vehicle is taller than 14 feet or wider than 8 feet & 6 inches, then it needs a permit to transport freight. Here is an overview of maximum permissible sizing:

  • Rear overhang: 4 feet
  • Front overhang: 3 feet
  • Truck pulling a trailer with boats: 65 feet
  • Twin-trailer’s individual trailers: 28.5 feet
  • Three-vehicle combo that’s not a truck-tractor combination: 65 feet
  • Two-vehicle combo that’s not a truck-tractor combination: 65 feet
  • Semitrailer, including a two-vehicle combo: 59 feet
  • Single vehicle: 45 feet

Ultimately, the regulations will be the responsibility of the transport company. Knowing this information is vital to understanding that the cost of transporting oversized freight can quickly add up and be quite costly. 

It’s also extremely important to know that it is the shipper’s responsibility to provide accurate information when requesting a quote. While it is the responsibility of the freight carrier to meet the required regulations, if the wrong information is provided during the quote process, there will likely be additional fees and delays with a shipment. 

If you need to ship heavy equipment outside of Texas, take a look at our blog Heavy Equipment Transport: A Comprehensive Guide. 

Heavy Equipment Hauling in Texas: The Types of Permits

Should you discover you do need a permit to get your heavy equipment shipped to Texas, which kind of permit would it be? Here’s an overview of the oversize and overweight permit types that apply for Texas heavy haul carriers.

North Texas Intermodal Permits

If you ship intermodal shipping containers, then you need to choose a freight company with a North Texas Intermodal permit. This lasts for a year and allows the freight company to pass the Texas/Arkansas border by five miles.

Are you moving heavy equipment near the state line? Learn more about freight shipping from Arkansas to Texas.

Annual Length Permit

Sometimes, the load you’re planning to ship exceeds the length limit set by the TXDMV. In that case, an annual length permit lets your freight team travel with non-divisible overlength loads. This permit is good for a year.

Water Well Drilling Machinery and Equipment Permit

Those shippers sending goods across Texas with mounted or self-propelled machinery for water-welling drilling should make sure their freight company obtains a permit to do so. This lasts for a year before it needs to be renewed.

Super Heavy Permit

For the bulkiest of the bulky shipped goods, a super heavy permit will allow your freight company to legally get to where they need to go. This permit gives them permission to surpass the permit weights per axle group or individual axle. They can also go over a gross weight of 200,000 to 254,300 pounds if the axle spacing is less than 95 feet.

Shipping in or around Dallas? Find out how to get the best Dallas freight shipping rates.

Looking for a solution for heavy or oversize freight? Leave heavy haul trucking to the experts at R+L Global Logistics.

Choosing the Right Type of TrailerChoosing the Right Type of Trailer

You’ve got your permit (as applicable) and you’re ready to ship your heavy equipment through Texas. The question now becomes which type of trailer is best for the job. The trucks and trailers you choose can have five, six, seven, even eight or nine axles for all your most heavy-duty types of equipment.

There are also several trailer types, including double-drop, step deck, and flatbed stretch vehicles. A double-drop freight trailer stays very near the ground, especially when compared to other shipping vehicles. They're made for overweight or oversized loads.

With a step deck trailer, the more open design allows it to tow up to two layers of goods, often taller ones. These vehicles even have an unloading ramp, although this isn't necessarily a guaranteed feature.

You might also choose to ship your freight on a flatbed stretch trailer. These are used exclusively for loads that outsize and outweigh traditional trailer parameters. These lengthier loads stay cradled and supported in an extendable flatbed trailer so they can safely reach their destination. 

R+L Global Logistics only works with the best specialized cargo haulers in the business today. We can help you make sense of all the quipment needed for your shipment and work with the carrier to meet your needs.

Looking for special equipment for your heavy haul? Learn what a lowboy truck and trailer is used for and see how to get the job done.

When Do You Need a Pilot Vehicle?

For some equipment shipments in Texas, a pilot or escort vehicle will be needed. If you’re not familiar, pilot cars accompany vehicles transporting oversized cargo. They serve yet another purpose too, which is indicating that traffic should merge or move so the freight vehicle can get through or make a turn. Pilot cars can be used on all sorts of roads, including freeways and highways.

According to the Texas DMV, when transporting freight in Texas, here’s when you should have a pilot car:

  • If your freight vehicle is more than 17 feet tall
  • If your vehicle’s overhang exceeds 20 feet
  • If your truck is more than 125 feet long
  • If the rear overhang is greater than 20 feet
  • If the width of the freight vehicle is between 14 and 16 feet or more

By surpassing more than one load dimension with the freight vehicle, Texas DMV notes that you could require a second pilot vehicle. 

If your heavy equipment transport requires a pilot car, there are also pilot car requirements that need to be met. These include:

  • Gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 1,000 to 10,000 pounds per unit.
  • Rotating amber light OR dual flashing lights that can be seen all 360 degrees around the vehicle. These must be attached to the roof and have a diameter of at least 8 inches.
  • Sign that reads WIDE LOAD or OVERSIZE LOAD that attaches to the freight vehicle’s rear, front, or roof. The sign should have a yellow background and be in black font. The letters should each be 8 to 10 inches tall. The sign itself must measure at least 5 feet, 7 inches by 12 inches by 18 inches.
  • Two-way radio between the pilot vehicle and the truck transporting the equipment.

Similar to the standard heavy haul shipping regulations, the transport company you work with will also be responsible for arranging the pilot vehicle if your shipment requires it. Be prepared for a hefty increase in the cost of your shipment when an escort vehicle is used.

Transporting Heavy Equipment with R+L Global Logistics

If you’re seeking heavy equipment transport companies, you can trust in our expertise at R+L Global Logistics. Our logistics and shipping services are unmatched. Whether you’re shipping freight from Texas or anywhere else in the world, R+L Global Logistics is your ideal partner.

Moving heavy equipment and working with heavy equipment haulers can be stressful and risky. We’ve safely transported heavy equipment for countless customers giving us more than the necessary experience required. Additionally, we have established partnerships with dozens of reputable heavy haul companies. These partnerships allow us to save you time and money while maintaining the highest level of quality.

If you’re planning on transporting heavy equipment in Texas, give us a call at (866) 353-7178 or click Freight Quote below and one of our transport experts will provide you with a custom quote.

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