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What Is Hot Shot Trucking? (Full Guide)

what is hot shot trucking

Have you ever heard of minutemen? They were militiamen who were around about the time of the American Revolution that vowed to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice. But what is hot shot trucking, and what do minutemen have to do with it?

Hot shot truckers are, in simple terms, the minutemen of the trucking industry. It is a type of transportation service that moves relatively time-sensitive, lighter cargo to accessible sites.

What are the Licensing Requirements for Hot Shot Trucking

What are the Licensing Requirements for Hot Shot Trucking

The Administration for Federal Motor Carrier Safety must grant each driver a “Motor Carrier Authority Number” and give them permission to operate a vehicle. However, drivers who do not intend to carry weights over 10,000lbs are not required to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License.

However, before making any significant investments, potential hot shot truckers are advised to visit the FMCSA website. This gives a full rundown of the fitness requirements for driving in order to be approved.

What are the advantages of Hot Shot Trucking?

Traditional trucking can be an expensive investment. Hot shot trucking, on the other hand, has an enormous advantage because it is generally a much cheaper start-up for new truckers looking to get into the business. This is also a great way to find out whether you are willing to spend the money on earning your commercial driver’s license and operating a large truck.

In addition to the lower costs of starting up, here are a few more benefits of hot shot trucking:

1 Reduced wait time as a result of expedited loading

Because it is the carriers who frequently expedite many loads, there is a reduced wait time to get the cargo on the road.

2 The income is equivalent to or even higher than that of heavy trucking

Hot shot drivers can easily obtain steady employment. Thus, the potential salary for dedicated hot shot truckers can be higher than the average heavy trucker wage.

3 More time at home

Generally, hot shot truckers travel shorter distances and transport loads within their region or local area. This allows them to spend more time with their families.

The difference between Expedited Shipping and Hot Shot Trucking

Hauls are sent out more swiftly with expedited shipping than they would be with standard delivery. These trucks are available at all times. Tractor trailers, vans, and straight trucks are frequent choices for expedited transportation vehicles.

Hot shot trucking is unique in that it uses smaller trucks, medium or one-ton, to carry smaller loads in order to deliver time-sensitive goods to their customers on schedule. Hot shot trucking assigns work to different drivers by negotiating through load boards (more on that later), whereas expedited shipping vehicles are constantly on call.

However, keep in mind that the two can, in some cases, be combined. For example, if a business is on a tight budget but they require expedited delivery of a small to moderate load, hot shot truckers are an ideal solution.

Hot Shot Trucks’ Typical Hauls

Hot Shot Trucks' Typical Hauls

Hot shot truckers generally transport farm products, construction supplies, machinery, and heavy equipment. Although they are typically local, hauls can range from 50 miles to across the entire country.

What types of trucks are used by Hot Shot Truckers?

There are three main classes of trucks commonly used for hot shot trucking. So, let’s take a look at them, along with their respective Class and Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings:

Class 3

These trucks weigh approximately 10,001 to 14,000 pounds. Examples include the Ford F-350, GMC Sierra 3500, Ford E-350, Chevy Silverado 3500, and the Ram 3500.

Class 4

Weighing in at 14,001 to 16,000 pounds, examples of these trucks include the Ford E-450 and F-450, Ram 4500, and the GMC 4500.

Class 5

These trucks weigh between 16,001 and 19,500 pounds. Examples include the GMC 5500, Peterbilt 325, Ford F-550, and Ram 5500.

What types of trailers are used by Hot Shot Truckers?

It is important to select the most appropriate trailer type to connect to your truck. Choose one that is suitable for the kinds of goods you want to haul, as well as the truck you have. Here is a summary of the various kinds of trailers and the ideal applications for each…

Bumper Pull Trailers

Bumper Pull Trailers

Also known as tag-along trailers or drag trailers, this kind of trailer is very common, with both commercial and non-commercial drivers frequently using bumper pulls. Generally speaking, they are less expensive because they are shorter, especially when compared to a gooseneck. They are, therefore, simple to use, and many people are already accustomed to them.

The truck’s total weight, including the bumper pull, probably won’t exceed 10,001 pounds, so a Commercial Driver’s License will not be required when using this type of trailer. Be mindful of the types of cargo you wish to haul before deciding on a less expensive trailer, though, because bumper pull trailers can’t carry as much cargo as their bigger, more expensive counterparts.

However, there is a lot to take into account regarding your truck’s capabilities if you plan on loading heavier cargo on the bumper pull. If your truck is not properly weighted, you could experience a variety of issues while driving, such as instability, the trailer swinging, or losing control.

Gooseneck Trailers

The steadiness, minimal swaying, and narrower turning radius of gooseneck trailers give them a good reputation, so drivers with more experience are likely familiar with these trailers. Also known as a “double drop RGN,” goosenecks are generally more suitable for heavier shipments on unfamiliar roadways (carefully consider the routes you will travel before purchasing any trailer).

On average, gooseneck trailers are typically 40 feet long. Longer trailers allow you to transport more cargo, but they may also impose limitations based on state regulations. Due to their size, gooseneck trailer loads may be classified as commercial; therefore, drivers will need additional training and certification. Furthermore, goosenecks use a dedicated hitching system, rather than attaching to the pickup truck’s cargo bed, which will require further investment.

For a driver who decides to dedicate themselves to trucking, this would make a terrific trailer. What is hot shot trucking without a decent trailer, after all?

Deckover Trailers

Hot shot drivers can benefit particularly from deckover trailers. Not only are they suited for commercial and non-commercial use, but they are also excellent for heavier loads (i.e., cars or farming equipment). The deckover has a larger cargo capacity due to its absence of well wheels and sports a wider deck, allowing you to haul more in a single trip. 

The deck is quite low on the ground, though, so the ramps will be shorter as a result. Although it’s not a huge drawback, it does have an impact on how you load and unload cargo from your trailer, and also how you support and secure it while you’re traveling.

Lowboy Trailers

Lowboy Trailers

These are the most convenient option for unloading heavy, track-style equipment. When it is separated from the truck, the lowboy sits comfortably on the ground. The lower center of gravity makes lowboys the most stable, and, therefore, the best option for heavier hauls. This also means that the majority of equipment loaded on this type of trailer can pass through state-imposed height limitations.

One drawback to the lowboy is its limited deck space, which can greatly reduce the amount of cargo you can fit on the trailer per trip. While a lowboy can support very heavy items, you might only be capable of carrying one at a time, which can considerably limit the amount of cargo you can transport and the amount of money you can make.

How Much Do Hot Shot Tuckers Earn?

Due to the fact that hot shot truckers are independent contractors, their income can vary widely due to their circumstances.

What to charge per Freight?

The best method to increase profitability and prevent losses when beginning your own business is to know the value of your service and how to determine your pricing. Normally, drivers will agree on a rate per mile. Most drivers negotiate prices between $1.00 and $1.25 per mile, but this depends on their expertise, the capabilities of your truck, and the haul.

Operating Costs

As with any business, you need to spend money to make money. Therefore, the income you make from hot shot trucking will be affected by the running costs, such as cargo insurance, truck maintenance, and commercial liability. All businesses have operating costs, and hot shot trucking is no different.

Proper maintenance on trucks that are doing substantial mileage, for example, can cost from $400 upwards per month. The annual cost of commercial liability and freight insurance can range from $4,000 to $5,000. Another thing to consider is income tax rates – these can be as high as 25% of your total income.

Where to find Hot Shot Trucking jobs

Most hot shot truckers use load boards to find work. Transport companies usually post fast, light-load contracts for interested drivers on load boards, which effectively act as online job markets. This gives drivers access to a variety of tools that assist them in locating loads to transport and find the most efficient ways to boost their earnings.

It’s simple to find load boards for the regions you want to drive, featuring the loads you can haul, by using applications, websites, and numerous subscription-based services. While some of these services are free, others need to be paid for. Hot shot truckers should assess whether the paid services are a good option for their business; they usually are because they typically offer better job opportunities.

The Logistics of Hot Shot Trucking

A hot shot trucker must be familiar with the local and federal legislation that regulates the trucking industry in order to start their own company and operate as an independent contractor. So, make sure you have all the details you need to do it properly the first time.

Before you start operating hot shot trucks, make sure you are aware of all the legal requirements pertaining to this line of work. Commercial truck registration is required, for example. You risk receiving hefty fines if you lack the necessary licensing. 

Logging your loads…

You are also in charge of your own logs if you operate as an independent contractor. This involves carefully logging the distance, duration, and weight of your cargo hauls. Be mindful that haul weights may differ from state to state, so be familiar with federal requirements and understand how to properly record your shipments for interstate driving. 

Also, be sure to factor in how it will affect your driving time when stopping to weigh your cargo to keep consistent records of your own loads.

Looking for more Trucking Opportunities?

Let’s start by checking out our in-depth guide on How to Become a Truck Driver, or, for more info on what’s involved, take a look at our Truck Driver Job Description, our OTR Driver Job Description, and our Tractor Trailer Truck Driver Job Description, as well as our Truck Dispatcher Job Description.

Or, if money is your motivation, you’ll love our look at High Paying Truck Driver Jobs in 2023.

However, if you have a criminal record, it’s worth considering Second Chance Trucking Companies for some excellent job opportunities. Plus, find out What Truck Driving Schools Accept Felons, as well as the Trucking Companies That Train And Hire Felons and the Trucking Companies That Hire Felons.

What Is Hot Shot Trucking? – Final thoughts

Well, it is a fantastic opportunity to establish a small business, earn money, and be your own boss. There are many things to consider before deciding whether it is the best choice for you, though.

Those thinking about getting into hot shot trucking should ensure they have all the necessary information – from the type of pickup you intend to use, what licensing you need, the requirements for your trailers, and the financial requirements of the trucking industry.

That’s why it’s important to know the details before jumping in headfirst, as with any other business opportunity. 

Happy trucking!

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