Letter from the NPCA President.
It has been brought to our attention by Pilot Car Escort Drivers and several carriers that some law enforcement officers are delaying escorts and issuing them warnings in the Garden City area of Kansas about a regulation requiring pilot car drivers to be exactly 300' in front (lead) and 300' behind (chase) a given load. They are threatening to issue citations in the future and have said they will have spotters out looking for pilot cars not in compliance with the regulation.
We Pilot Escort Vehicle Operators (PEVOs) are very aware that this is an unsafe distance from which to lead a load. It does not account for the safe stopping distance of the load, let alone the ability of the lead escort to do his/her job correctly to ensure the safety of the public around these dangerous loads. We will be addressing the matter with Kansas officials over the next week to educate them about our concerns and seek a change to this regulation at the earliest convenience.
K.A.R. Section 36-1-36 Paragraph f item 4 states:
"(4) Unless conditions dictate a different following distance, escorting vehicles shall travel at a distance not to exceed 300 feet in front or 300 feet to the rear of the load"
Pilot Car Operators certainly have some leeway to argue that "conditions dictate" that we lead a load from a distance greater than 300' given the demands of our physical safety and the need to fulfill our job tasks to ensure the safety of the public. The FHWA pilot car best practices guide prepared with the assistance of industry leaders and experts in concert with the federal government clearly contradicts this Kansas regulation by suggesting a greater spacing distance for the lead escort. If you are issued a warning or a citation for this please take down the officer's name and badge number, the jurisdiction (state trooper, sheriff, or city police), and/or ticket information and immediately contact the National Pilot Car Association. We will be available to do what we can to assist you and get information and warnings to the industry.
Over the past seven months the NPCA has been making an effort to educate transportation and law enforcement civil service leaders in Kansas about the industry in the hopes that they may choose to change their regulations and their approach. They recently enacted a series of laws and regulations that we strongly desire to see changed. It is a high priority for the NPCA to educate Kansas officials on this particularly troublesome regulation. The NPCA is also launching an effort to educate Kansas state legislators about the pilot car industry in the hopes that they will draft more sensible legislation in the future.
In the meantime, we recommend that pilot car operators be aware of their distance from the load in the Garden City area of Kansas; but please DO NOT allow this regulation to impair your safety or interfere with your ability to lead and chase loads safely to through Kansas.