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Everything You Need to Know About Hot Shot Trucking

Hot shot trucking is a trucking industry that focuses on transporting time-sensitive loads and urgent freight. These shipments are often smaller and lighter than what traditional trucking companies would handle. Hot shot trucks are typically single-axle trucks with a flatbed or gooseneck trailer. They are smaller and more maneuverable than typical tractor-trailer rigs, making them ideal for shorter distances and urban areas.


What Do Hot Shot Truckers Do?

Hot shot truckers are responsible for transporting time-sensitive and urgent freight using single-axle straight trucks with flatbed or gooseneck trailers. Their duties include loading and securing cargo, planning and executing routes, maintaining vehicles, communicating with dispatchers and customers, managing documentation, and troubleshooting problems.


Hot Shot Loads: What do Hot Shot Drivers Usually Transport?

Most hot shot drivers typically transport time-sensitive and urgent freight that is smaller and lighter than what traditional trucking companies would handle. Hot shot loads include, but are not limited to:

Industrial parts and equipment

Hot shot truckers often transport industrial parts and equipment that are needed to keep production lines running smoothly. Examples include machinery components, tools, and spare parts.

Oil and gas supplies

Hot shot drivers play a vital role in the oil and gas industry by transporting essential supplies to drilling sites and refineries. This includes items such as drill bits, pipes, and valves.

Medical supplies

Hot shot drivers are responsible for delivering critical medical supplies to hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. This includes items such as medications, blood products, and laboratory equipment.

Perishable goods

Hotshot truckers generally transport perishable goods, such as fruits, vegetables, and seafood, to ensure they reach their destinations fresh and on time. This requires careful handling and adherence to strict temperature-controlled guidelines.

Trade show exhibits

Hot shot drivers are often hired to transport trade show exhibits and displays to various events around the country. This requires careful packing and secure transportation to prevent damage to delicate materials.

Live animals

In some cases, hot shot drivers may transport live animals, such as livestock, racehorses, or exotic pets. This requires specialized equipment and expertise to ensure the animals are transported safely and comfortably.

In addition to these examples, hotshot truckers may transport a wide variety of other goods, depending on the needs of their customers. Hot shot trucking is a versatile and valuable part of the logistics industry, ensuring that time-sensitive and urgent freight reaches its destination safely and on time.

Types of Trucks Used in Hot Shot Trucking

Unlike traditional trucking companies that handle larger and heavier shipments, hot shot trucking focuses on smaller, more agile loads. The vehicles employed in this specialized domain play a pivotal role in ensuring the efficient and expeditious delivery of these critical goods.

To delve into the specifics, two primary types of pickup trucks are predominantly utilized in hot shot trucking operations:


Single-axle straight trucks

These compact yet capable pickup trucks boast a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,000 pounds or less. Their maneuverability and smaller size make them ideally suited for shorter distances and navigating urban environments.

Prominent examples include the Chevrolet Silverado 3500, Ford F-350, GMC Sierra 3500, and Ram 3500.

Medium-duty trucks

Offering a greater payload capacity, medium-duty trucks possess a GVWR ranging from 16,001 to 19,500 pounds. Their enhanced capabilities make them well-suited for longer hauls, efficiently transporting goods over greater distances.

Representative examples include the Chevrolet Silverado 5500, Ford F-550, Peterbilt 325, and Ram 5500.

The selection of the appropriate truck type depends on the specific requirements of each hot shot trucking operation. Factors such as the size and weight of the cargo, the distance of the haul, and the desired level of maneuverability all play a crucial role in determining the most suitable vehicle.

Types of Trailers Used in Hot Shot Trucking

From small loads to heavy loads, hotshot truckers can choose from a variety of trailers to transport and secure loads properly. Here are several types of hot shot trailers used in hot shot trucking:

Bumper pull trailers

A bumper pull trailer is a common type of trailer that connects to the tow vehicle’s bumper or hitch. It’s easy to use, affordable, and versatile for smaller loads and shorter distances. Bumper pull trailers are also easier to set up than gooseneck trailers.

Gooseneck trailers

These hot shot trailers have a lower deck that attaches to the frame of a pickup truck using a fifth wheel hitch. This type of trailer is ideal for transporting taller cargo, such as construction equipment and oilfield equipment.

Do keep in mind that gooseneck trailers have a tighter turn radius, which lets you cut corners tighter compared to bumper pull trailers.


Flatbed trailers

These hot shot trailers have a flat deck that can accommodate a variety of cargo, including pallets, crates, and machinery. It’s common for hot shot truck drivers to pull flatbed trailers.

Dovetail trailers

Dovetail trailers are a type of trailer with a sloped rear section that makes it easier to load and unload low-clearance vehicles and equipment.

Tilt deck trailers

Tilt deck trailers are specially designed trailers with a tilting deck that can be lowered to the ground, making it easier to load and unload heavy machinery and equipment. This eliminates the need for ramps, which can be difficult and dangerous to use. Tilt deck trailers are commonly used to transport smaller vehicles, industrial equipment, construction equipment, and perishable goods.

Lowboy trailers

Lowboy trailers are specially designed to carry very tall cargo that can’t fit on regular trailers. They have a low center of gravity because of its super low deck, usually 12 feet or less, so they can handle things like construction equipment, wind turbine parts, and even oversized tanks.

Pros and Cons of Hot Shot Trucking

Hot shot trucking offers a mix of advantages and drawbacks. It can be a lucrative profession for owner-operators with plenty of independence and varied work experiences, but it also requires long hours, physical effort, and significant upfront investment.

Pros of Hot Shot Trucking

Cons of Hot Shot Trucking

Insurance Needed for Hot Shot Trucking

Hot shot drivers need to have several types of commercial insurance, including:

In addition to these basic types of insurance, hot shot truckers may also want to consider additional coverage, such as:

Do You Need a Commercial Driver's License for Hot Shot Trucking?

Whether or not you need a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) for hot shot trucking depends on the weight of the cargo you are hauling. If you are hauling less than 26,001 pounds of cargo, you do not need a CDL. However, if you are hauling 26,001 pounds or more of cargo, you will need a CDL with the appropriate endorsements.

Here is a breakdown of the CDL requirements for hot shot trucking:

In addition to the CDL requirements, hotshot truck drivers must also meet other qualifications, such as having a clean driving record, passing a medical examination, and completing a hazardous materials training course if they are transporting hazardous materials.