Public Sector

Oversize permit processing, regulations, and challenges

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the Oversize/Overweight (OS/OW) permit processing, including the governing regulations and how they vary across the US. It also highlights the benefits of using technology in the OS/OW permit processing.

What is an oversize/overweight permit?

Oversize/overweight (OS/OW) permits indicate a shipment or consignment that exceeds the legal size, dimension, and/or weight limitations. The federal mandate for maximum loads is governed by the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

It is important to note that these oversize load restrictions and measurements may vary depending on the state or jurisdiction. In some states, like Florida, loads exceeding a width of 15 feet and a length of 150 feet are considered “super loads” and need special permits.1 In other states, freight can extend up to 5 feet past the front end or 48 feet in the back-end flatbed trailer without the need for any OS/OW permit. Also, these measurements are for legal loads and there may be more restrictive measurements for oversize/overweight loads.

If the maximum load capacity is exceeded, the transporter will need an oversize permit. This oversize permit allows the movement of oversized consignments on a state's roadways and highways during a specific time slot.

Lack of state-subjective permit process regulation knowledge can result in penalties and delays in shipment deliveries. Transporters generally commit regulatory adherence errors with bulky shipments such as tractors, combines, automobiles, cranes, steel beams, wind turbines, fabricated homes, etc.

What are the different fines imposed in the case of oversize permit violations?

Oversize permit regulations are very important for any state. Transportation authorities need to strike a balance between public safety, the preservation of infrastructure, and the demands of the commercial trucking industry when approving and rerouting OS/OW trucks.

Let's examine oversize load regulations by state. With variations in rules and oversize permit limits, the fines also vary by state. Oversize permit violations in California may result in fines of $3,000 or $4,000; however, in Texas, the same violation may result in a penalty ranging from $100 to $150. These penalties can escalate to up to $10,000 for loads weighing more than 40,000 pounds. 2,3

Read our success story on “Simplifying and improving oversize and overweight permitting with CAI” for a glimpse of our expertise in transportation and tolling.

Understanding the current technology landscape for oversize permitting and its challenges

The federal government has established oversize load restrictions and enforced compliance to ensure protection for core infrastructure like bridges, flyovers, roads, etc. For more than a decade, states have been using enhanced, automated oversize permit systems to tackle the increasing volumes of applications. This automated permitting has helped state governments to reduce the average turnaround time from days to hours, or even a few minutes, for most routine OS/OW permits.4 It has also helped them improve customer satisfaction, enhance staff efficiency, and reduce costs.

Another challenge is the need for up-to-date information. Many of the current automated systems rely on outdated or inaccurate data. This can lead to permit applications being denied or approved based on incorrect information.

Finally, automated systems can struggle with accurately estimating the cost of permits. This is because many of the factors that go into calculating the cost of a permit, such as road conditions, are constantly changing. As a result, an automated system may not be able to accurately calculate the cost of a permit on time.

Existing OS/OW permitting systems have some of the following issues:5

  • Lack of rural and local road displays in maps which limits automated route identification
  • No real-time updates of route restrictions
  • No integrated local permitting process—lack of a centralized office for obtaining all the permits for state and local roads at once
  • Prolonged application approvals with no self-service option
  • Increased cases of bypass of enforcement activities
  • Lack of bridge safety assessments to support routing decisions
  • No centralized platform for capturing all freight-related information like route and price optimization, interstate permit laws, penalties, terms and conditions, etc.
  • Minimal information regarding permitting jurisdictions

The challenge, as of today, is to use technology and innovative practices to track and target intelligent permitting activities to ensure safety, preservation of each state’s infrastructure investments and improve truck or transport productivity.

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State governments recognize the need to modernize legacy OS/OW permitting systems. A complete assessment of the existing state-owned transportation and tolling IT infrastructure can help in assessing infrastructural capabilities and recommending tailored solutions. This can better position agencies for future modernization investments, which could include enhanced routing system modules with updated geographical databases, clearance requirements, and restriction updates.

Services for automated fare collections would support digitalized tolling, save manhours, and reduce overall maintenance costs. Government agencies can also benefit from technology-backed operational scalability tools like Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It offers mapping capabilities, real-time, up-to-date statuses of roads and highways, accident-prone area identification, and more. GIS integration aids automatic calculation of oversize/overweight shipments and helps find the optimal route to transport them to their destinations without any violations.

Read our success story on "Saving millions by streamlining contract bidding with CAI" to see how we delivered cost efficiency of over $20,000.

In summary

Overall, the technological challenges associated with automated, oversize and overweight permit systems are varied and can be difficult to overcome. However, with the right technology and processes in place, these challenges can be managed effectively to further enhance the customer experience.

CAI has proven experience with handling applications in the transportation and tolling sector. Our managed application and technology services for transportation and tolling range from application development and maintenance, application rationalization, application modernization, to enterprise service management. To understand how CAI can benefit your organization, please contact us to arrange a meeting.


Endnotes

  1. Florida oversize permits - regulations and information. Heavy Haul Trucking. (2021, March 14). Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://www.heavyhaul.net/florida-permits/.
  2. Motive. “What You Need to Know about Overweight Trucks.” Motive (formerly KeepTruckin), November 3, 2022. https://gomotive.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-overweight-trucks/.
  3. “Texas Oversize and Overweight Fines and Penalties.” Texas oversize and overweight fines and penalties. https://oversize.io/regulations/oversize-overweight-fines-by-state/texas.
  4. Schaefer, Ron, et al. 2018. "Best Practices in Permitting Oversize and Overweight Vehicles." Federal Highway Administration. US Department of Transportation. February 2018. https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop17061/fhwahop17061.pdf.
  5. Schaefer, Ron, et al. 2018. "Best Practices in Permitting Oversize and Overweight Vehicles." Federal Highway Administration, US Department of Transportation. February 2018. https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop17061/fhwahop17061.pdf.

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