Should I Flatbed?

Topic 13202 | Page 1

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Christina K.'s Comment
member avatar

Ok so I recently tried to get a job driving flatbed, but was turned away because I'm female. I want to do something different with my career and when I'm told I can't do something I want it even more. I found a company willing to give me the training for flatbed, but what I'd really like to know is am I missing something with this? I know it's different than driving a reefer , but what are some things that might challenge me with this change? I want to learn as much as I can before I ever do anything so any advice or things to be aware of before I switch would be greatly appreciated.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Joe W. ( aka hharleywood)'s Comment
member avatar

I am looking at flatbed too. As far as I can see as far as physical difference it's the tarps and load securement. There is a section on this site specific to that. Check it out. Brett has put together a great Web site for just about everything trucking. If Old. School chimes in, listen to what he has to say. He knows the flatbedding gig real well.

Christina K.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks I will check it out. Good luck to you and drive safe!

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Okay Christina, I don't know of any company that would turn you away and then tell you that it was because you are female - that is like asking for a lawsuit now days. So, let's get that out of the way first. You may think that is why you got rejected, but I seriously doubt anyone told you that. Are you confident that there are not other issues going on that could have brought on this denial of employment - are you employed as a driver now, or was this your first attempt at landing a trucking job?

There is a lot to being a flat-bed driver that is different from other driving jobs. There are some females out here, but just like most other driving jobs there are a lot more men out here than females. I once met a gal who was a flat-bedder who could not have weighed 105 pounds - I'm not easily impressed, but she impressed me - she was all heart and that is what it takes to be a real flat-bedder. Last week I had to get out in a freezing rain and tarp a load. Sounds silly doesn't it. You'd think if they didn't mind me tarping it in the freezing rain then they wouldn't mind it going down the road in the freezing rain. It wasn't the moisture or the ice they wanted this load protected from, it was the road salts that were out on the Interstates in the region I would be running in. You are going to be exposed to all kinds of weather doing this job. Imagine trying to spread out a 135 pound 24' x 38' huge kite in a strong wind that will carry you right off the top of your load if you don't let go of it when the wind sends it sailing. That is how it is on some days when trying to get your tarps on your load. I'm giving you some worse case scenarios here just to see if you find them to be the types of challenges that are rewarding to accomplish or if you see them as something that no employer should ever ask you to do.

We've a lot of information here in our forum about flat-bed work. Here is a link to an old discussion on flat-bed securement practices, take a look at that and see if the challenges of figuring out how to secure a load interest you. Some folks find that the math part of this job is fascinating and interesting, others would rather just swing the doors closed on their trailer and hit the road running - it will all come down to what interests you about flat-bedding as to whether you will enjoy it or not.

We also have a very lengthy and interesting thread going on in here about Flat Bed Variety, take a look at that thing and it may help you decide if you want to go that way or not. We have quite a few flat-bedders in here so feel free to ask as many questions as you like, and we will do our best to answer your questions. Whether we talk you either out of it or into it will all depend on how you perceive the challenges of the job.

We've had a few ladies in here who wanted to be flat-bedders. Little Syster comes to mind - here's a link to one of her posts when she first got off her trainers truck and went Officially Solo - check that out. You can also do a search in the search bar at the top of this page and put in "Little Syster" to find other posts by her about her journey into flat-bedding.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

The Persian Conversion's Comment
member avatar

As usual Old School nailed it. Twice! Lol. I would just add that flatbedding is extremely physically demanding, much more so than driving vans or reefers. It will really test your physical strength and stamina some days, and being tested like that in extreme weather conditions only adds to the suffering.

There are also a lot of aspects to this job which can get quite frustrating. Similar to OS's example, I had to tarp a load in high wind conditions a couple of weeks ago. This was a load of plywood though, and we are required to lay down a big sheet of plastic between the wood and the tarps to ensure no moisture touches the load. Well, you can imagine how aggravating it was for me to try and get this huge piece of lightweight material to stay on the load (let alone get it to lay squarely so all the sides were covered) with the wind whipping it around everywhere! I finally got it somewhat right after several hours of struggling, but when I passed our yard 150 miles down the road on my way to the receiver, I pulled into the shop after hours and retarped the whole load in there.

So not only do you have to have the willpower to do some pretty physically demanding things, you also need the mental toughness to battle through those extreme moments where it seems like the whole world is against you.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Parrothead66's Comment
member avatar

Old School, I ran into a windy situation the other day on a load of lumber. Rolled out my first tarp and before I could spread it out the wind caught it and off it goes. Got any old trade secrets to getting that thing spread out and held in place long enough to get down and add a few bungees?

Chris the stick slinger's Comment
member avatar

"Lol. I would just add that flatbedding is extremely physically demanding, much more so than driving vans or reefers."

I think you ment to say, much more so than MOST jobs driving vans or reefers.

You can spend a week with me and make 30-40 stops and unload 2 trailers with 25-30k pounds of furniture if you want to try a driving job that is more physical than most driving jobs.

smile.gif

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Pat M.'s Comment
member avatar

There is nothing extremely demanding about flatbedding other than some perception of hard work. When someone tells me that line I just laugh. Your actual work periods are short in duration and not all that difficult. Some think that because you sweat that it is hard work. If it gets over 70° I sweat walking around the truck... LOL

There are loads where as I am securing I keep telling myself "Man this is taking forever to tie down" Then I get back into the truck to do the log book thing and get out of there and I am surprised of how little time it actually took. I loaded a 330 excavator the other day and thought it took for ever to secure and flag. When I got back into the truck it had only taken me 45 minutes to remove the neck from the trailer, drive the machine on the trailer, rehook the neck of the trailer and secure the machine.

SAMUEL C.'s Comment
member avatar

I guess I will add to what OS stated, if that is possible. I chose flatbed because of the mental and physical challenges. There is a female driver with our company and from what I've heard, she can work circles around many of our male drivers. I did pass her the other day as I was leaving a OSB plant in Ga. Tarping has to be the most physically demanding part of it and the extreme weather, snow rain and blazing heat. But as previously stated it's all about heart. When you secure a load and get it from point A to B safely, you have a sense of accomplishment, because what you are hauling is visible to everyone. Motorist, other big trucks and most of all DOT.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
The Persian Conversion's Comment
member avatar

Hey Pat, if you never have to tarp your loads, you're not a true flatbedder!

smile.gif

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