In the United States, a pilot car driver is the person who escorts or follows an oversized freight hauler. Their job is to ensure the safety of the truck driver and the cargo, mitigating the risk of damage to roadways and infrastructure. They can work for a pilot car company or work as an independent contractor. If they’re an independent, they set their own rates and may be required to pay taxes.
The amount a pilot car owner makes depends on their clients and the services they offer. Oversize load pilot cars are typically hired by trucking companies, shippers or brokers that connect these companies with their clientele. In addition, they can be contacted directly by businesses that require the transport of their goods or equipment.
While there are several factors that influence how much a pilot car owner makes, the most important one is their ability to negotiate and establish rapport with potential clients. Negotiating skills help drivers earn better rates, which in turn increases their incomes. This skill also allows them to build a solid business reputation.
Another way to determine how much a pilot car owner makes is by looking at their operating expenses. Depending on their location and the type of business, startup costs can vary, but on average, a small-scale pilot car service requires around $1K to get started. This includes a vehicle that’s comfortable enough for long 12+ hour shifts, high quality communication gear, flashing amber lights, flags and other essential safety items.