An escort vehicle, also called a pilot vehicle in most areas, is an automobile used to escort trucks with large loads, convoys of large vehicles, guide motorists through construction sites, and assist aircraft in taxiing from the runway to the tarmac at many airports. In most instances, pilot vehicles are provided by companies that specialize in convoy escort, although escort duties are occasionally performed by police vehicles (especially for parades and funeral processions or shipments that require a high level of security during transit).
Oversize vehicle escorts
Pilot vehicles will typically take positions directly in front and behind the truck or convoy being escorted. For overwidth or overheight trucks one escort vehicle will ride several miles ahead of the truck to ensure the road ahead can accommodate the truck's oversize dimensions. This lead vehicle is usually equipped with a long pole that extends upward from the front bumper; its length can be adjusted to match the height of the truck or the tallest vehicle in a convoy. If the pole strikes any overhanging objects such as bridges, overhead signs, or power lines, the truck or convoy can be alerted and stopped or diverted long before an accident occurs. In Australia all oversize equipment is imported in pieces on cargo ships; the components are then loaded onto trucks that are powerful enough to haul the extremely heavy machinery. In New South Wales, oversize trucks are only allowed to operate between 11 pm and 5 am. If the truck is still in transit by 5 am, it must by law pull over to a safe area and wait until 11 pm to continue its journey. Along the predetermined route (Already safe-proof from narrow roads and low objects through many years of transportation of heavy oversize machines) the front escort must have orange safety lights and a sign displaying "Over-Size Vehicle Ahead." The job of the front escort is to ensure that vehicles stay off the road in the immediate path of the truck, as it is too time consuming for the truck to stop at a red light and then regain momentum to continue the journey.
Aircraft escort vehicles
Some of the more crowded airports use escort vehicles to guide arriving planes taxiing from the runway to the tarmac and departing planes from the parking area to the runway.