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What Is Flatbed Trucking?

One of the most versatile, efficient methods of hauling goods from point a to point b is flatbed trucking. The makeup of flatbed trucks allows them to handle freight that typical box trucks can’t. Flatbed trucks are large vehicles without walls or roofs, meaning freight needs to be manually secured onto the vehicle using large chains or straps. Due to the flexibility flatbed trucking offers, it’s one of the most popular methods of hauling freight.

How Does Flatbed Trucking Work?

Flatbed trucking is used to transport oversized or unusually shaped items containers. Since flatbed trucks don’t have a roof or walls, getting cargo to its destination on a flatbed truck means using resources like tarps or rack kits to make sure everything is secured onto the vehicle safely. 

What Is a Flat Bed in Trucking?

When it comes to trucking, a flat bed is a truck with a flat body without sides or a roof. The size of a flatbed on a truck is usually about 48’ long and 8.5’ wide.

What Does a Flatbed Truck Driver Do?

A flatbed truck driver is responsible for securing cargo onto the vehicle before leaving for their destination. Completing tasks using a flatbed truck also means adhering to stricter DOT guidelines than ordinary.

What Is the Max Weight On a Flatbed Truck?

Typically, flatbed trucks are capable of hauling in between 40,000 and 46,000 pounds depending on the type of flatbed it is.

What Are Common Uses of Flatbed Trucking?

A few common uses for flatbed trucking include mobile homes, military machinery, tow trucks, and lumber.

What Are the Rates for Flatbed Trucking?

Flatbed trucking rates depend on a few factors, including region, skill requirements, and the items being hauled. The national average rate per mile for flatbed trucking is roughly $3.07.

What Flatbed Truck Drivers Need to Consider 

Driving a flatbed truck can be far more dangerous than the average box truck. Some of the hazardous aspects of flatbed trucking include the following! 

Loading Freight

Loading a flatbed truck can be done either manually or using machinery like lifts and cranes. Factors that determine whether or not it’s best to use machinery when loading a flatbed include the location, along with the type of products being loaded.

Securing the Load

There are strict regulations on how a load should be secured on a flatbed truck. Those regulations detail what type of tie-down methods are allowed to be used, along with how to properly double-check to ensure that a load is properly secured before leaving to complete a delivery.

Tarping the Goods

Properly tarping cargo is an acquired skill that can provide an added layer of security to a shipment when done correctly. Tarp that hasn’t been secured properly could become detached from the load while on the road, which is a hazardous situation for everyone involved.

How To Maneuver a Flatbed Truck 

While one of the benefits of driving a flatbed truck is the ability to take on loads that are larger or unusually shaped, it takes a high level of skill to drive a flatbed containing that sort of cargo. The high level of skill required for driving a flatbed truck is why it’s one of the higher-paying jobs that require a CDL.

Types of Flatbed Trailers 

Similar to other types of vehicles, there are a variety of flatbeds to choose from. Some of the most commonly used flatbed trailers include:


The standard flatbed is typically used to haul products like machinery or heavy metals. They’re basically just a box trailer without the roof or sides.

Drop Deck

Drop deck flatbed trailers are also known as step-deck or single-drop flatbeds. They have a bed that gets lower than standard flatbeds which allow for an additional two feet of overhead clearance.


Double-drop flatbed trailers have a center portion that drops lower than both ends which allows for taller freight to be carried. These trailers are often used to carry freight that requires a crane to load and unload.

Stretch or Extendable

Stretch flatbed trailers are ideal for loads that are too long for standard 48-foot flatbeds. They often require special permits depending on their size and the type of freight they’re being used for.

Curtain Side

Curtain side flatbed trailers are ideal for ease of loading and unloading. They’re fitted with stakes and panels to enclose all sides but one.


Lowboys are ideal for tall shipments that may be too tough to handle for a step-deck. Lowboy trailers lie 18 off the ground, making them capable of accommodating freight up to 11 feet and 6 inches.

Covered Wagon

Covered wagon flatbed trailers are also known as side-kit flatbeds. They contain a tarp with stakes and panels to create an additional layer of shelter underneath. These are ideal for shipments that are sensitive to the elements.

Advantages of Flatbed Trucking

The versatility that flatbed trucking brings to the table can lead to an array of benefits which include the following: 

  • Less maintenance
  • More time on the road
  • Better pay rates
  • Less gas spent on trips

Disadvantages of Flatbed Trucking

Even though the benefits of flatbed trucking are clear, there are disadvantages associated with it too. Some of those include the following:

  • More regulations to adhere to
  • More driving hazards than usual
  • Extra time spent loading and unloading
  • Dealing with the elements can make the job more difficult

Flatbed vs Dry Van

Unlike flatbed trucking, dry van trucking entails using a vehicle with all four walls and a roof to ship freight from one location to another. Dry van trucks provide protection from the elements that are hard to find with flatbed trucking, but they don’t offer the same flexibility as flatbeds. 

Along with flexibility, another advantage that flatbed shipping holds over dry van shipping is the fact that there are more ways to load freight onto a flatbed as opposed to a dry van. Dry van trailers are typically restricted to loading cargo from the front to the rear, while flatbed trailers allow for multiple loading options.

Start your Flatbed Truck Driving Career With Melton Today

Flatbed trucking is one of the most popular methods of shipping freight. As the space grows and more information about the benefits of flatbed trucking becomes clear, the appeal of driving a flatbed truck is likely going to grow.

If you’re a truck driver in the United States with a Class A CDL license, can help you find the best trucking jobs nationwide. Easily browse companies and find the right job for you!

Where the best truck drivers go to find jobs nationwide!

Where the best truck drivers go to find jobs nationwide!