Become A Pilot Driver In Oregon

Oversize loads like manufactured homes may require a pilot car escort.

Under Oregon state law, anyone who wants to haul an oversize load on public roads (with some exceptions) must hire at least one pilot car to alert oncoming and overtaking traffic. Work may not always be steady, but demand for pilot car drivers will remain as long as freight needs to be moved from Point A to Point B. Oregon law does not require pilot car drivers to have any specific certifications, since the pilot car is the legal responsibility of the driver hauling the oversize load, but you will be more employable if you obtain flagger certification in Oregon and pilot car certification in at least one other state.


1. Find your nearest certified flagger instructor on the list on the Chemeketa Community College website. (see Resources) If you live near Salem, consider enrolling in one of Chemeketa’s one-day certification courses. If possible, become certified in both standard flagging and rolling-stop flagging. Both certifications are required for pilot car drivers on many routes throughout Oregon, particularly on narrow routes that include tunnels and bridges. (see Refs 1)

2. Buy a warning sign and a method of mounting the sign facing both forward and backward above your vehicle‘s roof. The sign must say “Oversize Load” and have a “highway yellow” background, according to Oregon Administrative Rule 734-082-0035, Section 2a. The minimum size for this sign is 5 feet long by 10 inches tall and the sign’s letters must be 8 inches tall with a 1-inch brush stroke. You may only display this sign while escorting an oversize load. (see Refs 2, Section 2a)

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3. Buy one or more amber warning lights to put on your vehicle‘s roof. The lights may be flashing, rotating or strobe. If you purchase flashing lights, you must put two on your vehicle. Rotating and strobe lights require only one light. All types of warning lights must flash at least 30 times per minute and be visible for 500 feet. (see Refs 2, Section 2b)

4. Buy or make red warning flags to carry in your vehicle. The flags must be square, with each side measuring 18 inches, and be mounted on 3-foot poles. You must also buy at least 8 safety flares to carry in your vehicle. If your load is stopped on the road, you must use the flags and flares to keep oncoming and overtaking traffic safe. If you are escorting a load that includes hazardous materials, you must use flags only. (see Refs 2, Section 2d and 2e)

5. Buy a CB radio, unless you already own one. Learn use it properly so that you can maintain radio contact with the driver of the load you are escorting, as Oregon law requires. (see Refs 2, Section 2c)

6. Travel to Washington or another neighboring state (depending on your location in Oregon) and obtain a pilot vehicle certification there. This is not strictly necessary, but certification will permit you to escort loads in that state, and possibly in others, in addition to loads that stay within Oregon. Since much of the freight that moves on Oregon’s roadways is bound for out-of-state destinations, having an out-of-state certification will make you much more employable. (see Resources)

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7. Call your local trucking company to find out if they need your services. Even if they do not, they may keep your information on file in case of future needs. If you live in one of Oregon’s larger cities, there may also be one or more pilot car companies near you that may be looking for drivers.