A report released by Evergreen Safety Council shows that at the moment, there are 14 states in the United States of America that require pilot car certification before working as a Pilot/Escort Vehicle Operator (P/EVO).
The U.S. pilot car certification permits give a person the legal right to work as a pilot car operator or escort, and it allows the person to guide or escort large trucks carrying oversized loads along defined route routes, traffic, and other road obstacles. Obtaining your pilot car certification will validate the person’s skills and knowledge necessary to obey the law.
Please note that it will cost you around $200 for your pilot car certification course in most states and the course is usually conducted online. If you are successful in getting your pilot car certification license, then you must renew it every four years.
States That Require Pilot Car Certification for Pilot Cars or Escort Cars
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The state of Arizona is one of the states that require pilot car certification for every pilot car operator. As a matter of fact, Arizona makes it mandatory for pilot car companies or escort vehicles to have a certification that shows that the pilot car and operator completed a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) program.
Note that Arizona recognizes pilot car certification equivalency programs completed in other states; however, the pilot car or escort vehicle operator must apply to operate within Arizona State jurisdictions.
If you require additional information, you can contact the Arizona Motor Vehicles Division at the phone number: 602-771-2960 located at 1225 N. 25th Ave., Phoenix, AR 85009. Office hours are from 8 AM until 5 PM mountain time, Monday through Friday.
Colorado requires pilot car or escort company operators to have a Colorado State Certification card when working within the Colorado state jurisdiction. Nevertheless, Colorado also recognizes certificates received from other states, such as Florida, Oklahoma, Washington, Utah, and the SC&RA.
In case you do not have any other state certificate endorsements, and you are not sure whether you can be allowed to operate your pilot car in Colorado, you may contact RSA Network, Inc. by phone at 801–838–8199 to inquire about your Colorado State Certification testing.
Florida is yet another state that requires pilot car certification for all pilot car operators that operate in the state. In Florida, pilot car or escort company operators are required to have Florida State certification or FDOT authorization.
Please note that Florida recognizes programs completed by bike pilot car drivers from Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Georgia is yet another state that requires pilot car operators to obtain pilot car certification before they can legally operate in the State. As a matter of fact, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) requires pilot car or escort company operators to complete the Certified Escort Vehicle Program.
In addition to this, you must have an “amber light permit” when operating a pilot car or escort vehicle within Georgia state lines.
If you obtain an “amber light permit” and have completed a pilot car or escort vehicle certification program through any of the following states: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah, or Arizona, you will likely be approved with proof of completion.
The Georgia DOT also reciprocates directly with North Carolina, Florida, and Oklahoma pilot car certification programs. Should you need any further clarification about the Georgia Oversize Permit Unit, you may contact them directly at 888-262-8306.
All escort and pilot car operators who wish to travel through or work in Louisiana are required to obtain a Louisiana Approved Escort Vehicle Permit.
In addition, escort vehicle operators and pilot car company operators can obtain a Louisiana state escort vehicle permit at Louisiana weigh stations. The permits can also be obtained online at www.dotd.la.gov.
All escort vehicle and pilot car operators who wish to travel or work in Minnesota are required to be certified. The good old state of Minnesota has two different types of escorts.
Civilian escorts and peace officers. Minnesota recognizes escort vehicle and pilot car operator certifications from the following states; Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington. Currently, Minnesota requires drivers of pilot cars and escort vehicles to hold a current Minnesota State Patrol certification.
All pilot car companies, and escort vehicle operators must travel with a copy of their certification when working within this state.
All pilot car operators and escort vehicles who wish to work in Nevada must be certified and also obtain an amber light permit. At the time of this writing (May 16, 2018) the State of Nevada Department of Transportation does not have any specific certification program for pilot cars. However, they do have in place a rather lengthy amber light law.
We would strongly suggest that anyone considering escorting loads through the state of Nevada obtain certification in another state with less stringent laws such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, or Oklahoma.
You will still need an amber light permit to operate an escort vehicle or pilot car within Nevada state jurisdiction. The amber light law basically states that it is unlawful for any person to mount a flashing amber warning light on the top of the vehicle without a permit from the Nevada Highway Patrol.
If you are planning to work as an escort or pilot car operator in New Mexico, you must obtain your pilot car certification.
As a matter of fact, all pilot car and escort vehicle operators working within New Mexico need to be inspected at the port of entry for a New Mexico certification inspection. You must approach the port of entry before any load you are escorting reaches any scale house upon entry.
Once the pilot car or escort vehicle operators pull into the New Mexico port of entry, you are subject to inspection. The officer conducting the inspection will require you to have:
- two amber lights
- oversize escort signs
- a two-way radio
- a fire extinguisher
- outside rearview mirrors
- The condition of the tires
- Three red flares or reflectors
- oversize escort signs
- florescent orange or red flags 12 inches in size or larger
- a safety jacket or vest with a hard hat.
The vehicle requirements are:
- minimum of the 100-inch wheelbase
- a maximum vehicle capacity of 1 1/2 tons
- a valid current driver’s license
- the terms of your insurance policy.
In addition, you can expect a full-on roadside intensive and thorough review of your vehicle and its equipment.
All pilot car and escort vehicle operators who plan to work within New York must be New York State certified. To be certified as an escort or pilot car driver, it is mandatory for all drivers and any persons acting as flag persons to obtain New York state certification regardless of where they reside.
From the best of our knowledge, no previous certification programs you may have completed will be accepted, credited, or otherwise considered.
For a list of New York Department of Motor Vehicle Testing locations, call 518-486-9748. For more information on getting certified or obtaining the New York certification manual, you can call 418-457-1155 or 800-783-1685.
If you are planning to work as an escort vehicle and pilot car operator within the state of Oklahoma, you must be Oklahoma-certified.
Oklahoma Department of Public Safety does recognize certifications and other states that do have a reciprocal agreement. However, if the pilot car or escort vehicle operator is an Oklahoma State resident, they must have Oklahoma certification. The first order of business when operating a pilot car or escort vehicle within Oklahoma is the certificate of insurance.
Escort and pilot car operators must provide not less than $1 million of combined single limit or commercial liability coverage per occurrence.
The state of Oklahoma will need to be listed as a certificate holder on your insurance certificate. To obtain your certificate from the Department of Public Safety, you will be required to take the course and the examination offered by Oklahoma State University.
The term of this certificate shall be for a maximum period of five years and will expire automatically after the date it was issued.
All pilot car operators and escort vehicle drivers who want to operate within the state of Utah must be certified and inspected at the Utah Port of Entry. Pilot car and escort vehicle operators who wish to obtain an authorized certification card may participate in an authorized qualified certification program. A list of authorized instructors can be obtained by calling 801-965-4892.
Pilot car and escort company drivers who live outside of Utah may operate as certified pilot car or escort drivers with another State certification credentials provided that the course meets the minimum requirements outlined in the Utah pilot car and escort vehicle training manual.
Any pilot car or escort driver certification expires four years from the certificate’s date. It is the driver’s responsibility to maintain current certification and minimum insurance coverage of $750,000 for liability insurance.
Upon entering the jurisdiction within Utah, it is strongly advised you have a certificate of completion that is valid and current with any of the states mentioned above.
Virginia requires that all pilot car and escort vehicle operators be certified before performing the duties of an oversized or overweight load pilot or escort vehicle within the Virginia state jurisdiction.
The state of Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does recognize certification programs completed by applicants from the following states: Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington. However, you must still apply for escort/pilot car operator certification from the Virginia DMV.
Pilot car and escort vehicle operators must carry their certification documents while escorting any type of oversized or overweight vehicle configurations. You must have a valid driver’s license as well.
Washington Department of Transportation does require pilot car and escort vehicle operators to be certified by them. They recognize programs and certificates from the states of Utah, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Colorado; however, pilot car and escort vehicle operators who desire to operate within Washington’s jurisdiction must be issued an official Washington state certificate.
You can contact pilot/escort car flagging instructor Michael Blackman at 509-684-7632 or contact the Washington State Pilot Escort official Jim Wright at 360-704-6345. In addition, you may visit the official state information page at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/commercialvehicle/.
All escort vehicle operators are required to obtain an approved escort certification prior to performing the duties of an oversized/overweight load escort vehicle operator in North Carolina. Required courses for all applicants: NCDOT OS/OW Load Escort Vehicle Operator Certification Program score of 75% min.; effective for 4 years; cost: $50.00. To make an application you can call 888-221-8166.
Please note that in North Carolina, out-of-state operators who currently have valid driver’s licenses and certifications will be recognized. No driver or passenger other than a certified escort vehicle operator is allowed to travel in the escort vehicle.
If you are not sure of the requirements of each state as it relates to obtaining your pilot car certification, you can feel free to reach out to their Department of Transport (DOT) or any other relevant authority. Please note that there may be other states not listed in this article that may also start demanding pilot car operators to obtain pilot car certifications before they can operate in their state.