Flatbed trucking is just one option for new truck drivers looking to break into the industry. If a driver chooses not to go the flatbed route, he or she can concentrate on dry goods vans, refrigerated vans, or even tankers. It is really just a matter of preference.
Flatbed loads are attractive to some drivers because they pay more. Indeed, there are some drivers who work independently and exclusively with flatbed loads. They purchase or lease their own trailers and then haul anything and everything they can get on the back.
The first thing to know about flatbed trucking is that it is not right for everyone. Flatbedding is a unique subset of the trucking industry that requires a certain mindset to pull off day-by-day. Any new truck driver considering pursuing flatbed loads needs to know a few key things before making a decision.
Flatbeds Are Labor-Intensive
Truck drivers are ultimately responsible for the safety of their loads from start to finish. In a flatbed scenario, that means cargo has to be secured to the trailer and protected from the weather and other hazards. According to Ohio-based Mytee Products, this involves deploying a series of tarps, straps, and other pieces of equipment that make up what the industry calls ‘cargo control’. The process of security and protecting cargo is labor-intensive.
Weather Is Always a Concern
Flatbed trucking is more influenced by the weather than other forms of trucking. First and foremost, truck drivers spend more time outdoors on cargo control. Not only do they have to secure and cover their loads prior to departure, they then have to reverse the process on delivery. All of this has to be done regardless of weather conditions.
Weather also plays a role in the condition of the cargo at delivery. Again, drivers are responsible for protecting their loads. How that protection is undertaken is largely determined by expected weather conditions.
Regular Monitoring Is Required
The flatbed trucker obviously checks the security of his or her load before departure. By law, he/she is also expected to give his/her trailer a second look within the first 50 to 60 miles traveled. After that, the driver is supposed to check the load at regular intervals. This usually happens when stopping for fuel or parking for the night.
The take-away here is that regular monitoring of cargo is a normal part of the flatbed driver’s job. It requires attention to detail and a willingness to go the extra mile to make sure cargo is secure. Flatbed driving is certainly not a good fit for drivers who just want to hook and go without having to worry about anything else.
Flatbeds Pay Better
The last key thing to know about flatbed trucking is the fact that it pays better. Higher pay is one of the things that motivates truck drivers to take flatbed jobs despite the extra work involved. As an added benefit, experience tends to increase a driver’s pay by making him or her faster and more efficient at cargo control. Flatbed drivers can boost their own pay by spending less time on cargo control, something that dry goods drivers cannot do.
Representatives at Mytee Products have talked to a lot of flatbed drivers in their years of operation. They recognize that flatbed driving is not a good fit for everyone, but it is great work for those who love it and do it well. With the right kind of mindset, a willingness to work hard, and a complete inventory of cargo control supplies, flatbed truckers can earn an excellent living hauling cargo from coast-to-coast.