5 Things about Flatbed Trucking You Might Not Know
Upon graduating from CDL school, new truck drivers have quite a few choices for pursuing their careers. Some will move right into dry goods vans; others will concentrate on temperature-controlled trucking or hauling petroleum products; still others will choose to go the flatbed route. Unfortunately, many new drivers avoid flatbeds because they misunderstand what flatbed trucking is all about.
The primary difference between flatbed driving and hauling dry vans and reefer trailers are the trailers themselves. A flatbed is obviously not a self-contained trailer with four walls and a roof. That means flatbed drivers have some extra cargo control concerns to worry about. That does not necessarily make flatbed trucking worse; it is just different.
If you have been thinking about flatbed trucking, here are five things you might not know about it:
1. Drivers Earn More per Mile
Almost all long-haul truck driving jobs pay by the mile. What you might not know is that flatbed truckers tend to make more per mile compared to their dry van and reefer counterparts. Why? Because flatbed trucking involves some extra work. Drivers have to tie down their loads with straps and chains, then cover them with tarps when cargo needs protection from the weather. All of this takes time that a dry van trucker would actually spend driving.
2. Loading/Unloading Not a Big Deal
While it is true that the time spent loading and unloading a flatbed trailer is time the wheels of a truck are not turning, experienced flatbed truckers will tell you it is not a big deal. First and foremost, flatbeds tend to be loaded and unloaded less frequently due to the nature of the cargo. Secondly, flatbeds are loaded and unloaded from the sides, so drivers don’t have to worry about competing for loading docks. Third, there are some carriers that pay drivers for loading and unloading time.
3. Cargo Control Is Not a Heavy Burden
Although flatbed truckers are responsible for securing cargo before departure, cargo control is not the heavy burden a lot of inexperienced drivers make it out to be. Mytee Products, an Ohio distributor of cargo control supplies, explains that cargo control becomes routine with a little bit of practice. Experienced drivers learn how to secure cargo quickly, efficiently, and safely, so they can get on the road and start turning the miles.
4. It Doesn’t Require Additional Training
The driver fresh out of CDL school can get into flatbed trucking just as easily as hauling dry vans or refrigerated trailers. No additional, formal training is required. However, new flatbed truckers will learn quite a bit on the job. They will learn the best and most efficient ways to secure cargo, inspect loads, etc.
5. It Doesn’t Have to Be More Dangerous
It is not unusual for new drivers to steer clear of flatbeds out of fear that this form of trucking is more dangerous than others. It can be more dangerous if a driver is careless or ignorant, but it doesn’t have to be. Danger and safety are relative to a driver’s knowledge, attention to detail, and willingness to think safety first. Flatbed safety is all about attitude. Careful drivers are safe drivers, whether they run flatbeds or any other kind of trailer.
The flatbed sector is always in need of new drivers. If you like the prospect of accepting the challenges that come with flatbed trucking, there is an empty seat waiting to be filled. Flatbed trucking is a great way to make a very good living driving a truck and carrying all kinds of cargo.