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Pros vs. Cons: What opportunities can flatbed trucking offer commercial drivers?

3/22/2016

Let's weigh the pros and cons of flatbed trucking, and readers can make their own decisions as to whether it's right for them.

Not every road-ready individual can be a trucker. Ground transportation requires expertise that only comes from years behind the wheel cultivating an inimitable connection between truckers and the 40 tons of machinery they operate.

Yet even within the trucking industry itself, one breed of transportation stands out among the rest as particularly daunting: flatbed transportation. However, drivers willing to forge ahead despite the risks will see flatbed transportation can be an incredibly rewarding career choice. Let's weigh the pros and cons of flatbed trucking, and readers can make their own decisions as to whether it's right for them.

Pro: Flatbed truckers are more adept with the basics
Perhaps just as much a con as it is a pro, but when nothing separates freight from the open road apart from securing equipment and a driver's know-how, drilling the fundamentals of trucking becomes common practice.

Con: Higher risk potential
If freight moved inside a conventional trailer comes loose, what's the worst thing that could happen? Damaged goods? Perhaps losing future business? If something falls off a flatbed going 65 miles per hour, it could lead to injury. That's why flatbed truckers must be incredibly organized and detail-oriented people. There really isn't room in this segment of the industry for errors.

Pro: Flatbed drivers are typically paid better than other commercial truckers
Truck blog CDL 101 reported on average, flatbed truckers earn about $13,000 more annually than dry van truckers. Not only do they earn about 8 cents more per mile, but inclement weather may convince shippers to pay tarping surcharges to prevent precipitation from ruining the exposed load.

Con: More pay for more challenges
A higher pay grade should tip off prospective flatbed drivers that there's more work to be done. Traditionally, truckers aren't expected to assist with loading and unloading freight, and an enclosed trailer limits the amount of adjustments necessary as a delivery is jostled during transportation. Not so for flatbed truckers - not only are they usually part of rigging and unrigging secures before and after hauls, but they can anticipate more hands-on maintenance of secures en route.

However, as Truckers News reiterates, flatbed truckers are not only paid for doing so, but loading and unloading is much quicker than conventional trailers because of the accessibility of flatbeds.

Pro: Leverage abilities in competitive job market
If you take anything away from this blog post, it should be flatbed trucking requires a great deal of skill.

"The toughest challenges I've had so far would be maneuvering these really wide loads through heavy traffic," flatbedder Rebekah Meadows told trucking database experts Getloaded.

Clients understand flatbedding is no easy task, and truckers with flatbed experience - even if the job doesn't call for it - are likely to beat out competition. Why? Because flatbedding alone can be a sign of a top-tier trucker.

Con: Increased demand for vigilance
Security on the road is always easier for truckers with an enclosed trailer to prevent theft. Flatbed truckers don't have that luxury, which may prevent them from parking in certain areas to take a break or grab a quick snooze.

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