Trucking Companies with Flatbed Trailers

flatbed trailer on the road

A trucking company provides for the transportation of cargo or freight via trucks. The safe transportation of goods is an essential component of logistics and supply, and trucking companies use a variety of trailers to move the goods from one point to another.

Vehicles used include dry vans, reefers, and flatbed trailers. Flatbed trucking is one of the most common transportation methods. Here we look at what it entails plus much more.

What is flatbed trailer service?

A flatbed service is an essential part of trucking that involves trucking companies providing transport services to customers with wide, over-sized or extra-long cargo.

If you need to ship large equipment and other items that require no special protection from the elements, the truck to use is a flatbed. Flatbed companies own or maintain massive fleets of flatbed trucks and use these to transport customer freight that cannot fit in a dry van or other enclosed truck.

Flatbed trucking offers safe transportation, with goods secured using chains and straps. You can also use tarps to cover the cargo, which protects the goods being transported from the elements.

Who is the largest flatbed trailers carrier?

The best flatbed carrier will help you move your oversized loads in the best possible way. As the largest flatbed carriers, they also offer the best environment for drivers.

Whereas most companies will offer you a standard trailer, it is still advisable to know what type of truck you want. You also need to compare your preferences with what the flatbed service is offering you.

The top flatbed carriers are leading the industry by company size, revenue, and employees (drivers). Here is a list of the largest flatbed trucking companies going into 2020:

  • Landstar System
  • Daseke
  • Anderson Trucking Service
  • PS Logistics
  • TMC Transportation
  • Mercer Transportation Co.
  • Maverick USA
  • United Vision Logistics
  • Bennet Motor Express
  • Acme Truck Line

What do you look for when seeking a flatbed trailers carrier?

As a customer, the key is to look for a reliable trucking company that offers a full range of flatbed services. Here you can b assured of choosing that which suits your needs and know that your freight will be shipped from point to point in the best condition.

Before choosing a flatbed service, be advised to:

  • freight size and weight
  • type of freight (could weather conditions be a consideration?)
  • costs charged for flatbed service- remember cheap can be expensive
  • whether you will need loading/unloading aids

How many pallets can you fit on a 53-foot trailer?

You can fit between 26 and 30 pallets into a 53-foot trailer, providing the pallet size is a standardized 40 x 48 inches. Truckload shipping allows for three cubing out methods that you can use to achieve this.

Traditional loading

Using a traditional loading method, place pallets facing the front of the trailer.

In this way, a standard 53′ can hold two rows of 13 pallets to give you 26 pallets. You can load up to 20 pallets per stack to get about 520 pallets in total.

flatbed truck


The pinwheel method allows for more optimization when loading pallets. Place the pallets in two rows, with one row loaded sideways. The method allows for 28 pallets stacked 22 pallets high. In this way, a standard trailer will load 616 pallets.


The double-pinwheel allows you to load the pallets in two rows but all facing sideways. The method loads 30 pallet stacks with each stack 22 pallets high to maximize loading at 660 pallets.

While a 53-foot trailer can take up to 30 pallet stacks, factors that determine the load include:

  • Pallet configuration
  • Trailer maximum load
  • Pallet standardization
  • Pallet weight
  • Overhang

What is a dry van?

By dry van, we refer to any of the enclosed truck trailers that transport items that need to be protected from elements. The dry van, also a ‘box’ truck, is “dry” because it keeps the cargo protected from the rain.

However, unlike the refrigerated trailer, it isn’t temperature controlled. Dry vans are also different from flatbed trailers that are open and transport cargo that doesn’t need protection from the elements.

What are flatbed trucks used for?

Flatbed trucks have no roofs or sides and their main use is in the transportation of oversized or overweight equipment and other industrial commodities.

Common uses of flatbed trailers include:

  • Transporting building/construction materials like heavy steel beams, concrete
  • Hauling heavy equipment like military tanks
  • For carrying any odd-shaped materials
  • Transporting agriculture equipment like tractors
  • Move scrap metal for recycling or dumping
long flatbed trailer

How long is a flatbed truck?

Flatbed trucks come in various sizes and depend on the truck cab and engine. However, the typical trailer length is 48 feet and 53 feet.

How high can you stack flatbed trailers?

Trailers come in different types, but the standard height dimension is 5 feet high. When loading a flatbed, the legal load height is 8′ 6″ (102 inches). But stacking and overhang loading can take the height of a flatbed trailer to as high as 13′ 6″.

How many axles does a flatbed truck have?

The number of axles that a flatbed can have depends on the trailer type. Trucks may have at least two axles, though that can go up to five. The number of axles can increase with an increase in the number of attached trailers.

Generally, a 40′ semi-trailer will have two-three axles, while an 18-wheeler could as many as five. Tandem axles can take that to more than five.

flatbed trailers

How many pallets fit on a flatbed trailer?

To optimize pallet shipment when using a flatbed, you’ll need a drop deck flatbed trailer. As noted earlier, a 53-foot trailer can load up to 30 pallet stacks.

If you have a custom 53-foot long drop deck trailer, then you can load up to 36 pallet stacks. With each stack loaded 21 pallets high, the number of pallets loadable on the trailer comes to about 756.

Why are flatbed trailers curved?

Flatbed trailers arch or curve as part of the design that gives them the flexibility to hold heavy haulage. Flatbeds are unlike dry vans and reefers whose structural rigidity is reinforced by walls and doors.

A curved design allows for maximum weight distribution and the dip at the center means more loads per sq. ft. the curve will gradually flatten with weight.

The lowboy, which dips at the center also allows for the hauling of taller loads.  The arch gives the flatbed greater weight loading weight distribution and hence better balancing for safer heavy hauling.

What is heavy haul trucking?

Heavy haul trucking refers to the shipment of cargo that far exceeds legal dimensions and /or restrictions. In this case, heavy haul trucking relates to moving oversized or overweight cargo, beyond what is allowed on local roads, state highways, and the interstates.

Companies go for heavy hauling because some of the loads have odd shapes and sizes.  Such heavy loads generally cannot be hauled using a dry van or other enclosed trailer.

Hauling these heavy and oversized loads require the use of specially designed trailers. As well as that, a driver will need a special permit to transport the cargo on a clearly defined route plan.

What license do you need to drive a flatbed truck?

If you fancy working for a trucking company with flatbed trailers, know that you’d need to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides for various endorsements in their CDL programs, setting the standards that every truck driver needs to meet to qualify to drive flatbeds or other types of trailers.

The FMCSA has three classes of licenses- A, B and C. These classes determine what truck weight or cargo a driver can carry and using what trailer.

A flatbed driver must hold a license designated B for heavy-duty trucks. Drivers hauling hazardous materials must get special permission under an endorsement labeled “H.”

The license allows a driver to drive a trailer with a weight of 10,000 lbs or more and a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) beyond 26,000 lbs.

flatbed trailer tow

Is a flatbed truck a commercial vehicle?

Commercial vehicles are any type of vehicle whose use is to transport people for profit or so designed to solely transport property.

Flatbeds as such are commercial vehicles according to vehicle categories described by the Department of Transport. The agency classes all flatbed trailers under heavy-duty trucks. These trucks have a gross vehicle weight rating of over 26,000 lbs, and those driving these trailers need a CDL class A or B.

If you are driving a flatbed or are looking to use one, then stay compliant and observe all regulations and laws. To find out whether you need any permits or licenses, liaise with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or local transportation authorities.

flatbed trailer illustration

What is the difference between a step deck and a drop deck trailer?

A step deck trailer is also called a “single-drop” trailer and has two decks. The first deck is a shorter platform that is elevated and drops onto a much longer deck.

The shorter deck is usually 11ft long by 8.5 ft wide and load height of 8.5 feet. The longer platform measure 37 ft long, 8.5 ft wide and has a load height of 10 feet.

The purpose of the lower deck is to allow for the truck to take taller loads. In flatbed trucking, the step deck provides for safe loading of the taller cargo that cannot be transported using your regular flatbed.

A drop deck or double drop trailer differs from a step-deck in design. The double drop has three zones: a front deck, a “well”, and a rear deck.

The front deck is 10 feet long, the “well” 25 feet to 30 feet and the rear 9 feet.

The “well” dips 22″ below the axles, leaving an 11’8″ load height. This allows for the shipping of taller freight, including construction equipment and farm vehicles.

flatbed trailer

How much weight can a flatbed truck haul?

The weight allowed for a 48ft or 53ft trailer depends on the number of axles, but the legal weight limit is between 42,000 lbs and 48,000 lbs. The trailers can load heavier weights. The combined trailer, tractor, and cargo weight can reach 80,000 lbs, but that requires that you have a special permit.

It is important to realize that trailer dimensions may differ and that these differences can play a role in the weight allowable for the truck.

To help find out what weight limit your flatbed can haul, first note its length, width, and height limits.

You can then check the trailer GVW and subtract the empty truck’s weight. What remains is the weight the flatbed trailer can haul.

If you are looking to ship cargo across states, check the specific regulations that apply in that state.