What is a Convoy in Trucking?

A cab is a vehicle that you pay to take you from one place to another. In the trucking industry, a convoy is multiple trucks traveling together.

Convoy connects truck drivers with shippers that need freight services. Unlike traditional freight brokers, Convoy uses software to match shipping demand with available truck capacity.

Lead Vehicles

A lead vehicle sometimes referred to as a flag car, is used for various transportation services including transporting oversized loads. These vehicles are equipped with special lights and flags to alert drivers on the road of an oversized load’s presence. The lead vehicle also helps the truck driver locate a safe route to its destination.

A chase car or escort vehicle follows the lead vehicle to protect other traffic. This vehicle is typically operated by a private company that is contracted to provide traffic control and escort services for trucking companies transporting oversized freight. The escort car may help the truck driver navigate through narrow streets and lanes with potential blind spots caused by an oversized load.

Pittsburgh-based Locomation recently demonstrated a convoy system that allows two trucks to platoon on highways when conditions permit. A human driver in the lead truck guides the non-lead truck, extending the hours that the trucks can remain on the road.

Trail Vehicles

In addition to spotting and communicating road conditions, convoy trucks need to carry a trail vehicle for maintenance and logistical support. The trail vehicle is usually a pickup or a large van. This vehicle is also responsible for reporting clear times at en route checkpoints and the RP.

On controlled routes, convoy commanders may use movement regulation teams to assist in locating supported units or vehicles. Convoy commanders must ensure that these armed personnel do not interfere with the movement of the convoy.

Convoy leaders should also perform a thorough route reconnaissance. This includes identifying critical points and checking to see whether bridges or roads have been damaged. This information should be used in planning and calculating the arrive and clear times for each SP, en route CP, and RP. The pacesetter (an experienced officer or NCO riding in the lead vehicle of each march unit) is responsible for maintaining or adjusting the rate of march required to meet the schedule.

Rest Areas

Truck drivers require more sleep than caravanners and RV users, and they must pre-plan their stops to ensure they can find a spot to rest. Many truckers are arriving at provincial rest areas, such as Bradner in British Columbia, to discover they have been blocked from entering by RVs that are parked there for longer periods than permitted.

Convoy trucking is used on major highways and expressways, so convoy vehicles must be able to enter and exit these routes as quickly and safely as possible. If an accident occurs, the lead vehicle should halt a safe distance from the scene and direct the driver or convoy personnel to notify police and fire departments by the fastest means available. If spectators gather, they must be warned of the dangers of flammable liquid spills and toxic fumes.


In addition to CB radios, some convoy trucks also use cellular phones for communication. Route change information can be passed to a truck on the move through a regional State police dispatch center, for example.

Seattle-based Convoy, launched in 2015, is working to modernize freight brokerage, a fragmented, analog business in which shippers looking to fill truck capacity contract with brokers to organize the load. The company uses a mobile app to connect shippers wanting to transport goods with carriers (trucking companies) that have available capacities. The platform is often compared to Uber’s ride-hailing app and is designed to make trucking easier for new workforce entrants, who can sign up for Convoy with little upfront financial investment and begin booking their first loads in under an hour. As the platform scales, key performance indicators such as facility ratings and load matching efficiency improve, reducing shipper costs and increasing utilization and driver earnings. As a result, Convoy’s operating cost per load is substantially lower than incumbents and new entrants, and that advantage will only get bigger.

Schaff Joanne

Schaff Joanne