II. PRE-TRIP SAFETY MEETING
A pre-trip safety meeting is required by many States, and it is important for this meeting to involve the load driver, all pilot/escort vehicle operators (P/EVO), and, via telephone when needed, law enforcement escorts, permit officials, utility company representatives, railroad officials, tillermen/steermen, and others involved with load movement. For longer trips, a pre-trip safety meeting should be conducted before getting underway each day. This meeting should be focused on specific conditions and hazards expected. The same is true for vehicle inspections: after each meal, rest stop, or fuel stop, each driver should inspect his/her vehicle and assist other drivers to check bulbs, fluid levels, tire pressure, etc. Remember, inspection is a process, not an event.
Drivers involved in moving oversize loads should constantly monitor the other vehicles for bulb failure, low tires, signs and flags, load shifting or other issues, etc.
Assist the load driver when necessary if any problems with the load arise, including tie downs slipping or load shifting, low tires or blowouts, etc.
A. ASSIGN TASKS
- Discuss roles and responsibilities for each team member (lead P/EVO, rear P/EVO, height pole operator, traffic control/flagger, tillerman, etc.).
- Discuss load driver and/or law enforcement escort expectations.
B. REVIEW ROUTE
- Ensure all team members know the route, turn by turn (even rear escort drivers).
- Discuss safe places to stop if needed for equipment malfunctions, heavy traffic, etc.
- Remind team members of any potential hazards related to the specific load.
C. REVIEW LOAD LIMITATIONS
- Ground clearance.
- Load height.
- Turning limitations.
D. TEST COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT
- Select channel and alternate channel.
- Review communication procedures and terms (lane designations, for example).
- Check back-up equipment, locate extra batteries.
WHEN PRE-TRIP ACTIVITIES ARE NOT POSSIBLE
The Modified Pre-Trip Meeting
In some situations, P/EVOs engage in non-stationary transfers of responsibilities, or what is referred to by some as a "pick up on the move." This situation occurs when the load doesn't stop, but the escorts do stop traveling with the load as new escorts pick up the escorting responsibilities. This arrangement is challenging because of the lack of information, contingency planning, and knowledge about the other team members, their skills and preferences. Sharing information and planning for contingencies are delayed in a non-stationary transfer, but they should be delayed no longer than absolutely necessary.
At the first opportunity to conduct the delayed safety meeting, the procedure for the pre-trip meeting should be followed, including permit review, route review, and vehicle inspections. During this meeting, the team should also correct any issues with communication equipment, exchange contact information, and review any information that is unique to the load and route.
This modified pre-trip meeting should be conducted with as little pressure to "get back on the road" as possible. Understanding the tasks, hazards, and limitations saves substantial time when one considers the consequences of not completing the pre-trip meeting, which may include getting back on a route after a wrong turn, or prompting enforcement officials to conduct safety checks that can be very time consuming and sometimes very costly.
At a minimum, the successor escort must know how the transfer is to take place. Will the P/EVOs overlap or will the transfer be an abrupt change? If P/EVOs overlap, it is possible for the successor P/EVOs to have a few miles to "read" what the departing escorts are doing, and this overlap, when it lasts until the location for the safety meeting is reached, creates a safer environment for highway users and the load and driver. If an overlapping P/EVO transfer isn't possible, the load and successor escorts should take the first safe opportunity to conduct the meeting, inspections, and reviews. This abrupt-change option should be the exception rather than the rule, as it poses the greater risk of the two "pick up on the move" options.
Until the meeting place is reached, minimum safety procedures must be followed:
- Ensure effective radio communication is possible.
- Identify team members and their positions.
- Be clear when giving your own name and position in order to help others recognize your voice.
- Ask for information about the load and current status of the move.
- Have the P/EVOs who are departing been monitoring anything in particular?
- Any emerging problems or concerns prior to new P/EVOs joining the team?