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High Pole Basics for Pilot Cars

010/15/2021 

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PHOTO OF PILOT CAR HIGH POLE

Depending on the height of the load, the front P/EVO may need to run with a high pole. A high pole is a measuring device, mounted on the front of the lead vehicle, that is used to measure the height of obstructions along the route. The use of a high pole may be mandated on the permit(s). But even in cases where it is not required by the permitting agency, the carrier or transport team may decide that it is a good idea to run with a high pole in order to ensure the safety of the load.

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REMEMBER

Piloting with a high pole is an advanced skill. A high pole P/EVO should have substantial prior experience as both a rear and a front P/EVO before running with a high pole.

Front and high pole P/EVO requirements and equipment

Requirements for P/EVO equipment differ from state to state. It is the P/EVOs responsibility to know the rules where they operate. In general, a person operating as a front or high pole P/EVO must:

  • Have a valid driver license
  • Hold a current P/EVO certification that is valid in the state(s) where they operate (For WITPAC, a P/EVO certification is required even if the state(s) where you operate do not require one.)
  • Carry all equipment required for P/EVOs in the state(s) where they are operating 
  • PPE: steel-toed boots, protective eyewear, safety vest, hard hat, and any additional required equipment or apparel (Many states, job sites, and companies may have specific requirements regarding apparel for P/EVOs.)
  • Have functioning primary and secondary communication devices
  • Be free from fatigue, drugs, and alcohol

The high pole

Your high pole must meet certain minimum requirements. Look for a high pole that is:

  • professional-grade
  • made of non-conductive material
  • fully adjustable
  • rigid enough to withstand winds at highway speeds
  • capable of mounted to the front bumper of the P/E vehicle

The Rattler and Wonder Pole are two highly regarded high pole brands within the P/EVO community. 

REMEMBER

Never use a homemade high pole, or objects such as a broomstick, antenna, or painter’s pole. Homemade or other non-professional-grade high poles are not acceptable. 

There are electronic measuring devices available that can offer a high degree of accuracy, but these should never be used in place of a high pole. A high pole P/EVO using an electronic measuring device should also have a physical high pole installed and properly set.

If you will be running a high pole at night, it must be illuminated. Many pilots use LED lights securely mounted to the front of the vehicle for this purpose. The light must be strong enough to make the striker tip visible.

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The high pole mount

The mount must be sturdy and securely attached to the frame of the vehicle. It is recommended to have mounts in various places across the front of the vehicle so you can measure heights from various positions.

PHOTO OF PILOT CAR HIGH POLE MOUNTS

Striker tips

Striker tips should be professional-grade, and no more than 24 inches long. Do not put tennis balls or other objects on the ends of your striker tips. This can interfere with your measurements. For extra visibility, some high pole P/EVOs use brightly colored electrical tape to mark the 6-inch point below the end of the striker tip.

Additional Equipment

It is recommended that high pole P/EVOs use a convex mirror or dashcam that will help them easily see the tip of the high pole while driving. The driver should be able to see the tip of the high pole in the mirror without having to move from their normal driving position. A dashcam is also useful for liability and documentation purposes, in case a load strike occurs.

You should also carry backup equipment for equipment that is used constantly and may become damaged. It’s a good idea to keep the following on hand:

  • At least one additional high pole for each mounted high pole
  • Additional clamps, brackets, pins, and/or screws
  • At least six additional striker tips
  • Additional mounting equipment

Before you start using your high pole

This video includes additional tips for running with a high pole.

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REMEMBER

Running with a high pole is an advanced skill, and should only be done by P/EVOs who have plenty of experience.

Photo of a Pilot Car

Pilot Car (P/EVO) Glossary

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Evergreen Safety Council