A senior policeman has warned that the number of big trucks carrying mining equipment to the resources-rich Pilbara will increase and cause long delays on WA's highways in the foreseeable future as figures show police escorts for oversize loads have more than doubled.
Traffic laws require police to escort trucks carrying loads more than 5.5m wide or more than 40m long.
That job is performed by unsworn traffic escort branch staff, who have limited powers to direct traffic.
Assistant Commissioner Gary Budge said the number of escorts had doubled this year to more than 200 a month.
Those figures do not include big trucks that do not require a police escort, which could amount to hundreds more trucks each month.
Modelling from trucking companies suggests the transport of big loads will increase and continue for many years, with some companies booked more than 18 months in advance.
Mr Budge spoke of his concerns for motorists' safety as the school holidays started and the annual northern pilgrimage of the grey nomads got into full swing.
Last week, emergency service crews cleaned up a fuel spill after a tanker clipped an oversized load on the Great Northern Highway about 45km from Paynes Find.
"The movement of normal traffic on these roads is now and is going to be disrupted in the future," Mr Budge said.
"People have to plan for this and be patient because these loads can't just pull off the road anywhere to let vehicles past."
Mr Budge said it was difficult to advise motorists of disruptions because they were so frequent they should be regarded as a normal part of traffic movements north of Perth.
He said motorists should allow an extra two hours per trip.
The traffic escort unit had recently increased from nine staff to 15, and may soon be increased by another 10.
The costs associated with escorts are recovered from the transport companies.'People have to plan for this and be patient because these loads can't just pull off the road anywhere to let vehicles past.'"Assistant Commissioner *Gary Budge *
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