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Tips On How To Ship Flatbed Freight

Flatbed freight offers major advantages and helps keep things moving throughout our country. To take full advantage of flatbed shipping though, it’s important to know and consider the tips, tricks, and risks involved. 

Flatbed trailers offer impressive versatility, but the key details will always matter with shipments. There are different types of flatbeds that can help to ensure proper shipment delivery. 

What works for one shipment won’t necessarily work for all. So, make sure you stay informed!

What Is Flatbed Freight Shipping? 

Flatbed freight shipping is essentially open transportation of cargo. It’s important to know that the term open does not always mean uncovered or unsecured. 

Flatbed freight shipping is carried out via flatbed trucks, meaning the trailers are not enclosed, but flatbed trailers were designed to allow for secure transportation without the enclosed area. Tarps and other equipment can be used to keep the shipment covered in transit. 

What Do Flatbed Trucks Carry? 

Flatbed shipping delivers the versatility so many shippers require. The list of items that flatbed trucks can carry includes the following:

  • Lumber
  • Heavy machinery and equipment
  • Shipping containers
  • Formed concrete items
  • Wrapped and stackable products in large quantities
  • Tractors
  • Cars
  • Construction materials
  • Items that require removal with cranes or other specialized equipment or machinery

Types of Flatbeds

Knowing your equipment is helpful, especially considering there are varying types of flatbeds available for shipping. 

Double Drop

Also known as a lowboy flatbed, the double drop flatbed has a deck on both the front and back of the trailer, which is paired with a lower middle section. Taller items being shipped may require a double drop flatbed, such as trucks and cars, construction equipment, farm equipment, forklifts, and more. The higher decks on the ends allow for more shipment space if the weight allows. 

Step Deck

A step deck flatbed is similar to the double drop flatbed, although it only has one deck or step. The “step” at the head of the trailer allows for greater shipment space of taller items. 


A Conestoga flatbed gives you the versatility of a flatbed trailer, but with the protection of an enclosed trailer. A built-in tarp system, similar to an accordion, allows you to cover your shipment without hassle. The Conestoga is a great flatbed option, but cannot be used for all oversized or odd-shaped loads. 

Removable Gooseneck

Not surprisingly, the removable gooseneck flatbed has a removable gooseneck. You can remove the gooseneck at the head of the trailer so equipment and other loads can more easily be loaded and unloaded. This type of flatbed is ideal for vehicles and equipment that needs to be driven on. 


Stretch flatbeds are similar to your traditional flatbed trailer, but their bed is expandable. You can extend a stretch flatbed for longer loads with their sliding mechanism. 

Benefits of Flatbed Shipping

As a shipper, flatbed freight offers many advantages including: 

Disadvantages of Flatbed Shipping

While flatbed shipping offers great advantages, there are several disadvantages to consider as well, including the following: 

  • Generally higher premium with full truckload vs less than truckload  
  • Depending on tarps and equipment for securing
  • Cargo may be exposed while in transit
  • Flatbed freight can be more dangerous for the driver 

10 Tips On How To Ship Flatbed Freight

Shipping with flatbed freight should be easy, know the best ways to help keep your shipment on track and running smoothly from start to finish. 

Have Accurate Hauling Information

Flatbed freight shipments can help keep things efficient, but having accurate information is key. General details such as weight, dimensions, description of goods being shipped, and estimated value are imperative. It’s also important to note oversized or odd-shaped shipments that may impact the trailer you are using. Knowing these details beforehand will only help set you up for a successful flatbed shipping experience. Details always matter, but they’re especially crucial for LTL loads

Know Your Flatbed

As with any vehicle, knowing the equipment you are working with will help you avoid issues. Flatbed truck drivers must be skilled and experienced. Flatbed trailers can be tricky and tough to maneuver, so be sure to know how your vehicle handles both loaded and unloaded. Knowing your own vehicle will help you know what loads and shipments can be handled with ease as well. Different loads may need to be secured differently, having a variety of attachments will help you stay prepared. 

Use The Proper Equipment

Straps, bungees, and tarps are all different types of equipment you may use to help secure and protect your shipment. Properly securing your load will help you avoid shifts and issues while on the road. To use the proper equipment, you must have proper equipment. Be knowledgeable about your vehicle and equipment, but also be sure you have these important items available when you need them. 

Plan Cargo Placement

An unbalanced or unstable load can quickly spell disaster. Planning proper cargo placement is another way you can help yourself ensure an uneventful flatbed shipping experience. With properly placed and secured cargo, you’ll have far less chance of your shipment shifting during transportation. 

Secure the Load

Any cargo you are transporting will need to be secured, your job is to ensure it’s secured properly. Properly securing your load isn’t just a recommendation, it’s a legal requirement and responsibility. Different types of cargo and shipments will have varying requirements, so make sure you’re following the DOT guidelines.

Respect Weight Limits

Weight limits for flatbed trailers and other commercial vehicles are in place for the safety of everyone on the road. The gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR may vary between commercial vehicles, but every vehicle has one. 

Knowing the weight limits of your truck and trailer is critical. The GVWR is the maximum allowed weight of the vehicle, this includes the truck, trailer, load, and any additional components, including passengers, fuel, and more. Going over your vehicle’s weight limit could cost you far more than fines as it’s highly dangerous to overload your vehicle. 

Wear PPE When Loading and Unloading 

Accidents are just that, and no one ever plans to have one. Accidents can easily occur when loading or unloading a shipment without being prepared. It’s recommended to always wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when loading or unloading a flatbed trailer. This could include a safety vest, hard hat, gloves, goggles, and other safety items. 

Never Move an Unsecured Load

An unsecured load can be dangerous at any point, even when a truck is sitting parked. If you are planning to load a truck, be sure you have enough time to ensure it’s completely secure before you need to do anything else. Moving any type of unsecured load, even a minimal distance is incredibly risky. 

Check the Load

No matter how securely you’ve tied down your load, loads can and often will shift throughout the trip. Loads are more known to shift within the first hour of driving. It is highly recommended to pull over and inspect your load after an hour of driving to ensure everything is still secure. 

Inspect Your Equipment Daily 

When hauling a shipment, checking your trailer’s equipment is just as important as thoroughly examining the rest of your truck before driving. A simple equipment issue could turn into a disaster soon down the road. Before you start your trip, completing a thorough inspection of your truck, trailer, and equipment is critical to ensure you can help yourself have a smooth trip. 

Efficient Flatbed Shipping 

Flatbed shipping is there to help you transport items smoothly. Although there may be drawbacks to consider depending on the shipment, flatbed shipping can be ideal for many shipment requirements throughout the country. 

Offering an incredible amount of flexibility for shipment sizes and shapes, flatbed freight can offer efficient and hassle free shipments. Flatbed freight isn’t just for large items, so never look past the small ones! 


What pays more, dry van or flatbed?

Generally, flatbed drivers will make more money per mile than dry van drivers. This is often because flatbed trailers can haul more and flatbed truck drivers typically have greater experience. 

What Can Be Hauled on a Flatbed Trailer?

Flatbed shipping is utilized for all types of items including lumber, heavy machinery and equipment, shipping containers, formed concrete items, wrapped and stackable products in large quantities, tractors, cars, construction materials, items that require removal with cranes or specialized equipment or machinery, and much more.

How Do You Load a Flat Bed?

How you properly load a flatbed trailer will vary depending on the cargo. Many items are loaded with forklifts and cranes, while some trailers may allow cars and other equipment to be driven on.

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