Skip to Content

Is It Illegal to Pass or Overtake a Pilot Car on the Road?

No, it is not illegal to pass or overtake a pilot car, although there are a good number of considerations to ensure you do not get distracted or get into an accident.

A pilot escort refers to a vehicle that is fitted with lights, flags, and signs to let other drivers and road users know they are leading an oversized vehicle.

As a road user, once you encounter this type of vehicle convoy, it is recommended you give the oversized vehicle adequate time to stop and change lanes. Do not make the mistake of cutting off or trying to block an oversized vehicle.

When trying to overtake, be sure to consider the escort cars involved with the convoy. Give these vehicles a safe distance when passing as well.

Considerations to Keep in Mind When Passing or Overtaking a Pilot Car

  1. Follow Road Signs and Signals

These cars leverage a wide array of signals to communicate with other drivers. This can include flags, lights, and signs that let them know it’s safe to pass, the appropriate time to slow down, or when oncoming traffic is approaching.

Aside from that, you will also find that these pilot cars make use of red and yellow flags, to give varying signals too. For instance, a red flag waved vertically could indicate “stop,” whereas a yellow flag waved horizontally might mean “proceed with caution.”

Nevertheless, it is pertinent you pay attention to warning signs on the pilot car that signify the presence of an oversized load. Some of these signs might feature information such as the width, height, and any special precautions drivers will need to take.

  1. Maintain Safe Distance

You must keep a safe following distance behind the pilot car. Keep in mind that this ensures that you can react promptly to any quick changes in speed or maneuvers by the lead vehicle.

It is also important that you understand that these oversized loads always require ample space to navigate turns, bridges, as well as other obstacles. This particular consideration is meant to guarantee safe maneuvering.

  1. Observe Speed Limits

You also have to pay attention to speed limits especially to maintain safety and guarantee a clean overtake. One of the important things to note is that pilot cars operate at reduced speeds to ensure they can appropriately guide oversized loads.

Be sure to understand these speed limits and try as much as possible not to speed around or tailgate the pilot car. Also, ensure you can adequately align with the pace of the pilot car.

You will also need to show patience while also doing everything possible to stay clear of aggressive driving behaviors, particularly when navigating around oversized loads.

  1. Use Turn Signals and Communicate

There are reasons why turn signals are very important and this is one of those reasons. Before passing or overtaking the pilot car, you must make good use of your vehicle’s turn signals to let the drivers know of your intention to overtake. This works to alert the pilot car driver as well as other motorists of your intentions and possible actions.

Take your time to read the moments and only pass when a safe opportunity presents itself. You shouldn’t make the mistake of overtaking in areas with limited visibility, sharp curves, or intersections.

  1. Be Patient and Alert

You cannot afford to be impatient or too fast when driving or looking to overtake a pilot car. Understand that these vehicles will require extra time to navigate complex road conditions.

It is also recommended you maintain a good level of alertness while driving near pilot cars. Take your time to peruse the road ahead for any form of obstacles, road signs, or even signals. Try as much as possible to steer clear of distractions at this point.