Oversize loads move regularly throughout South Australia.  Most movement is along the Barrier Highway, Eyre Highway and Stuart Highway.  During the mining boom dump trucks and other machinery could be seen every day moving through Port Augusta.  Although less common these days the dangers involved in moving these heavy loads remains the same.

There are a few rules that should be applied when traveling the highways so that encountering an oversize load does not become a dramatic event.  If you have, and use, a CB radio set to channel 40 then you will be able to hear the approaching oversize load for many kilometres.  The lead pilot and police will be talking regularly to each other, and to the approaching semi trailer and road train drivers.

The load is governed by special permit conditions issued by Transport SA.  These conditions include the maximum speed the oversize load can be moved, the route it is allowed to travel, the number of police vehicles required to escort it, restrictions to daylight travel only, stopping at regular intervals to let traffic overtake and semi trailer specifications.

The trailers used to transport these large pieces of machinery have varying wheel track measurements ranging from the standard 2.5 metre width to more than 5 metres.  For this reason it cannot be assumed that an oversize load will be able move across to the left to avoid you.  High centre of gravity loads cannot be turned quickly for fear of toppling over.  Loads may exceed 200 tonnes so driving on the dirt verge, especially when it is wet, is not always an option.

For these reasons it is important to understand your responsibilities when an oversize load is approaching you.  It is a law that you must give way to any vehicle displaying an oversize load sign.  You must obey any direction given by an oversize load pilot.  Police directions must be obeyed and you must give way to police vehicles.  Police vehicles usually travel on the incorrect side of road and the driver directs traffic to the side of the road.  People understand that a driver must not drive into the path of an emergency vehicle displaying flashing red and blue lights.  This situation is no different.

If you are following an oversize load you may find that you are prevented from overtaking by the rear pilot.  The pilot is doing this because every overtaking event is co-ordinated between the semi trailer driver, pilots and police.  In South Australia most loads under police escort perform overtaking maneuvers down the left side of the load.  Other States do this as well.  The practice reduces the chance of accidents and has worked for over 30 years.  Wait for the pilot to give you directions.

So be aware of approaching oversize loads and react quickly.  Look for a parking spot well off the road and get your camera ready.  There are some amazing loads being moved around Australia and most people do not get to see them.