Try Flatbedding!

Topic 31401 | Page 1

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Nick M.'s Comment
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Flatbedding is it’s own beast within the trucking industry but I have found that there are many benefits to going this route, as long as you are willing to put in the extra work.

The first, and most important benefit, is that most shippers and receivers operate on regular business hours so it is much easier to maintain a regular “normal” schedule while you are out on the road. On pick-up days I am usually scaled and parked before the truck stops start filling up at dinner and am long gone on the road before anyone else is even thinking about waking up. This allows me to drive through cities and avoid rush-hours without any major set backs, ensure I have a parking spot at a reasonable hour, and get a shower in before the evening crowd comes. Because most shippers and receivers for flatbedders are closed on the weekend it is often easy to squeeze in a 34 hour reset and start the week off with a fresh clock too. Also, load and unload times are usually shorter at shippers and receivers, but this too is not always the case, just a general observation that seems fairly consistent.

The second benefit, and this might not appeal to everyone, is that there is some physical work to get you out of the truck. Sure, tarping sucks, but many companies compensate you for it. Most are $30-$50 a load, but mine is $100, so it’s often worth it and adds a significant boost to my paycheck. You don’t get paid for securement on an untarped load, but the securement usually isn’t that time consuming. It’s also good exercise for you brain as every load is a puzzle that needs to be solved. How do you secure this load so it is safe and legal? Every load is different. Some are easy and some are a royal pain, but doing this work allows you to work out your body and your mind and offers a welcome break from the monotony of driving day in and day out.

The third benefit is that many shippers and receivers are in “truck-friendly” areas, i.e. industrial parks and areas. Also, because you will most often be loaded by a forklift or some other machinery, the areas you go into to load and unload usually have plenty of maneuvering room for the truck, as there is space available for the loading equipment to maneuver around you. This is not always the case, but I have found it to be pretty consistent. Drivers always joke that flatbedders are the worst at backing because we usually don’t have to do it as much as the dry-vans and reefers and it’s true. Other than the occasional shipper who has a loading bay, I only back up to park for the day!

The final major benefit is that flatbedding companies usually pay a little more money per mile, especially as a newer driver. The company that I started with started me at 47 cpm and after a year you are already at 58-60 cpm. Other larger mega carriers don’t pay inexperienced drivers that much, you just need to find a flatbed carrier that has a training program, as there are many that do not a require you to get some experience running dry-van or reefer first.

There are other minor perks as well, such as you get to haul some pretty cool stuff from time to time, and you can always see what you are hauling, whereas in a dry-van there is often times you have no idea what’s back there. There is always new ways to challenge yourself when it comes to securement and there is alot of stuff to learn. I always study every flatbed truck I see on the road just to see what tips and tricks I can pick up for my own securement! There is also more opportunity and options in the world of flatbed as you can go heavy-haul, RGN, or stepdeck.

WIth all the benefits, there are some negatives too, and to be fair I will put them out there for full disclosure. The biggest downfall is that often times you are exposed to the elements when securing and/or tarping. The summer heat can be miserable and you will get sweaty and dirty! And in the winter everything freezes and the tarps won’t cooperate. On loading and unloading days you will need to shower, so overall you can expect to need to shower more often than you might if you were driving dry-van. Another negative is there is more responsibility. You are responsible for that load and it’s proper securement and the last thing you want to see when you are driving down the road is freight shifting or falling off your trailer and killing someone. It’s easy to get flustered and be in a hurry but there are no shortcuts with securement! Finally, there are some days when you just don’t feel like doing the physical part of flatbedding but the job has to get done anyways. I personally don’t have many more negatives than that, but I am sure other flatbedders might so leave a comment!

If you are looking to start a career in trucking and don’t mind the extra effort involved, consider flatbedding. It’s a little less monotonous than regular trucking and allows you to get some exercise and think a little bit. It’s not for everyone, but you never know unless you try.


The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.


Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.


A stepdeck , also referred to as "dropdeck", is a type of flatbed trailer that has one built in step to the deck to provide the capabilities of loading higher dimensional freight on the lower deck.


A refrigerated trailer.


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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