Heavy Haul

Panam Transport

Also known as oversized freight, is a load that exceeds a state’s legal limit for a specified portion of the road. Usually a load is considered oversize if it is wider, taller, longer, or heavier than what could be hauled on a standard or specialized trailer.


Heavy haul services are necessary to transport oversized loads on public roads. Heavy haul refers to oversized or overweight trucking shipments that exceed standard legal limits for transporting freight. Each state is required by the federal government to set their own regulations for heavy haul shipments. However, there are general guidelines that are widely accepted to classify oversized or overweight shipments.

A shipment requires heavy haul services if it exceeds a:

  • Width of 8.6 feet
  • Height of 13.6 feet
  • Length of 48 to 53 feet
  • Gross weight of 80,000 pounds

Be sure to check out your state’s requirements for heavy haul transport to ensure you follow their specific guidelines.

Understanding Axel Restrictions

Heavy haul load weight limits are set on a per-axel basis. To understand why, you have to go back around the 1950’s and 60’s when transportation vehicles were getting heavier and carrying larger loads. The roads themselves were actually fine, but regulations had to be set to protect bridges, as they were (and still are) designed to support certain weights. The solution was to limit the weight-to-length ratio of a vehicle crossing a bridge. In 1975 Congress enacted the Bridge Formula to do just that.

The result was setting weight limitations on a per-axel basis:

  • Steer axles may carry no more than 12,000 pounds
  • Single axles may carry no more than 20,000 pounds
  • Drive axles may carry no more than 34,000 pounds
  • Tandem axles may carry no more than 34,000 pounds

When cargo exceeds these weight limitations, special heavy haul equipment with additional axels is necessary.

Getting Permits

Heavy haul freight requires permits and documentation in order to fulfill transport. Permits are issued for each shipment and most heavy haul orders require location-specific permits, like from the city, county, or municipality through which you will travel. Other restrictions may apply as well, including:

  • Time allowed to travel
  • Seasonal travel restrictions
  • Holiday and weekend restrictions
  • Operating hours in which to transport

Talk to your heavy haul service provider to learn the state guidelines in which you will travel and to acquire all necessary permits.

Travel Accommodations and Requirements

Heavy haul services include more than just large trailers and trucks. There are also several other requirements for transporting oversized loads. Most notably, for travel the transportation vehicle is required by federal law to be marked with special signage when traveling. Depending on the state and the size of the load, some travel requirements include:

  • Oversized Load Banners
  • Safety Flags
  • Specialty Lights
  • Pilot Cars
  • Police Escort