When Do You Need a Red Flag When Hauling Cargo

When hauling cargo, a transport company is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the goods arrive at the destination safely and intact. There are times when customers will want to move abnormal loads and oversize cargo.

Goods that protrude from vehicles or are transported on the roof of vehicles can pose a significant risk to both the driver and other road users. As such, drivers are required to take the necessary precautions when transporting goods and materials that are too lengthy or wide to fit in a vehicle.

In addition to ensuring proper planning and determining which permits are needed, the law requires that a red flag be flown when hauling such freight.

What is the Red Flag’s Purpose in Cargo Hauling?

Part of making sure that the cargo is transported efficiently involves complying with the various laws and regulations. While many people will have a red indicator when hauling cargo, some do not know the purpose it serves.


Transporting overhanging cargo presents dangers to your vehicle and other road users. This marker serves as a warning sign to other road users to navigate safely behind and around your vehicle. This means that anyone approaching your vehicle will do so with caution, knowing that you are transporting an oversized load.

Protecting the Cargo

In addition to helping to keep the roads safe for everyone, the indicator also aids in protecting the freight being transported. Considering the size and shape of the load, drivers will have to exercise great caution when moving over uneven terrain, icy roads, winding roads, and steep slopes.

By alerting other road users, they will approach more carefully, minimizing the chance of damage to the cargo.

Compliance With the Applicable Laws

The Department of Transportation, as well as the various states, has rules for overhanging goods. One of them involves the use of the red flag. In case your freight overhangs more than the stipulated distance, but you do not have a red flag to warn other road users, you run the risk of being ticketed by law enforcement. Using the warning flag will ensure you do not offend the law.

When Do I Need One?

Anyone using a commercial motor vehicle to transport freight should know when to use a red flag. With the important role that the warning sign plays, this is a responsible thing to do.

The law requires that all merchandise that overhangs by more than four feet be marked. The load should be marked on its side using a warning sign to indicate the maximum overhang, as well as by two signs at the rear to show the longest overhang point. If the load extends over either the sides or rear of the vehicle by more than four feet, you are required to have an indicator to indicate the longest extremity of the load. In terms of size, these warning flags have to be a minimum of 18 inches square.

Whenever the projecting load is less than two feet wide, you can use only one indicator. Any load wider than two feet will require that you use two flags, with the warning signs marking the maximum length and width of the overhang. A triangular indicator may be used alongside the required flags and lights, but not without them.


Don’t Want to Risk it? Hire Professional Hauling

Whether you are transporting your own cargo or offer transportation services, you should ensure compliance with the relevant laws and regulations. The first step in doing this is to be familiar with the requirements. However, considering the safety risks involved when transporting oversize loads, the job is better left to skilled and experienced professionals.

At Osage Specialized Transport, we offer a wide range of hauling and freight transport services. Contact us today for convenient and reasonably priced services.