Due to Western Australia's remote and rugged nature, travellers will often encounter very large items being moved by road. These moves are referred to as "Over Size Over Mass (OSOM)" vehicles.
The routes used by these loads - some stretching thousands of kilometres - are also among the longest in the world. Their size means they have to travel much slower than normal traffic, sometimes taking a numbers of days to reach their remote destinations.
Often these OSOM vehicles are escorted by pilots and/or traffic escorts. These drivers are there to guide you, the load and the loads driver to safety.
Motorists can feel uncertain, confused and frustrated when the approached an OSOM load which is under escort. The job of the Pilot and Traffic Escort vehicles is to warn other road users of the presence of large, slow-moving loads.
1. Slow down when you first see a Pilot or Traffic Escort vehicle and be prepared to stop if necessary.
Many oversized loads take up more than half the road’s width or may need to travel towards the centre of the road to avoid power lines or roadside fixtures. It is often safest to move as far as possible to the left and be prepared to stop if necessary, to allow oversized loads to pass.
2. Always follow directions given by Pilots or Traffic Escort Wardens.
Pilots and Traffic Escort Wardens have the same powers as a sworn Police Officer in relation to directing traffic for the purpose of facilitating the movement of an oversized load. Their extensive training and experience helps ensure the safety of all road users.
3. Ensure that you leave plenty of room.
Give Pilots, Traffic Escorts Wardens and oversized vehicles lots of space to do their job. They are there to ensure the safety of all.
4. Be patient and don’t tailgate.
Pilot and Traffic Escort Warden vehicles can make quick lane changes, suddenly slow down or speed up. This happens to guide the load around unexpected circumstances. If the vehicles are blocking an extra lane while travelling beside a load, not allowing you to pass, it’s because they are preparing to assist the load and driver around a corner or another type of situation ahead.
5. Make sure there’s plenty of a clear road ahead when overtaking.
When a suitable section of clear, straight road is identified, the lead pilot contacts the rear pilot and others involved with the escorted load informing there is no oncoming traffic and the road is clear and safe for the vehicles behind the load to pass. The rear pilot moves allowing the waiting drivers to overtake if they desire. The decision whether to overtake an oversized load always rests with the driver of the overtaking vehicle. Ensure road safety is a key consideration at all times. Sharing the road with these large vehicles requires courtesy, patience and good driving behaviour from everyone involved.