The trucking industry itself offers a variety of high-paying career choices to pursue. Once you’ve obtained your CDL, you should find yourself open to plenty of options. Aside from choosing between local, regional, and over-the-road routes, you can also choose the type of truck and trailer you wish to operate if you have the correct endorsements.
Flatbed trucking is one specialization within the trucking industry. It offers exciting opportunities and challenges for even the most skilled drivers.
What is Flatbed Trucking?
There are times when the transportation industry calls for the hauling of oversized loads that don’t fit into a traditional trailer because of size and/or shape. This could involve hauling heavy machinery, military vehicles, lumber, mining or drilling equipment, tubing, steel, etc.
The responsibility of a flatbed truck driver is to haul these oversized/wide loads. A standard flatbed truck typically ranges from 48-53 feet in length, with a width of about 8.5 feet. Flatbed trailers are not enclosed with walls and most commonly have flat decks, although some do have double or single drop decks.
Due to the specialized, extremely hazardous, nature of the cargo flatbed drivers haul, the right equipment and procedures must be used on the job. Weight distribution and correct load securement techniques are key. Flatbed drivers do so with strapping, chaining, and tarping practices.
Flatbed Truck Driver Responsibilities
Since flatbed trucking involves hauling arguably some of the heaviest, most difficult cargo, it goes without saying that these drivers hold immense responsibility. Other than the expected safe driving and proper training, there are other regulations and standards set in place by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Responsibilities of flatbed drivers include but are not limited to:
Loading and Securing Your Load
Normally, your freight will be loaded and unloaded using cranes or other equipment. While this is the case, you will be responsible for ensuring that your freight is secure. DOT is strict when it comes to regulating secure cargo. For more information, you can visit cargo security rules outlined on the FMCSA website.
In the same vein as loading, tarping is another technique that is used at times when securing cargo. When your load does require a tarp, it is critical that the tarp (or any cover for that matter) is secured properly, in addition to your freight.
Collecting and Processing Payments
After delivery, flatbed truck drivers may be responsible for collecting payments, updating invoices, or even handling paperwork. Your customers may have questions or other inquiries, and you might be responsible for answering them for your carrier.
Perform Pre-Trip Inspections
Like all truck drivers, flatbed drivers have an obligation to perform a pre-trip inspection of their vehicle before departure. This is especially important since flatbeds haul such heavy, potentially dangerous equipment.
Maintaining Your Vehicle
Along with your pre-trip inspections, you should be aware of truck maintenance. Reporting any malfunctions or concerns as they arise to your carrier is not only important for your safety, but for the safety of other drivers as well.
What Benefits do Flatbed Truck Drivers Get?
While the job is a demanding and potentially dangerous one, flatbed drivers tend to be well compensated and receive favorable benefits. Because of the job’s physical demands, flatbed truck drivers tend to experience more home time than most OTR driving jobs.
In addition, a majority of companies pay flatbed drivers by the percentage of the load. Meaning that a driver who can effectively manage their time can likely increase their weekly earning potential.
What is Required to Become a Flatbed Driver?
Flatbed drivers must have a high school diploma, or a GED equivalent. In addition, you will be required to possess a CDL-A license. Most likely, you will need experience and/or some form of training before you can haul flatbed. Some companies will offer company-sponsored training.
Work Toward a Flatbed Trucking Career Today!
Flatbed truck driving is an exciting opportunity for skilled drivers who enjoy a challenge. Flatbed drivers operate across many different industries, including but not limited to, construction, aerospace, renewable energy, steel, industrial, oil and gas industries, military, and more. Your options are not limited.
To start working toward CDL-A training, you can explore CDL schools near you!