There’s a high demand for truck drivers these days. According to the American Trucking Association, 60,800 more drivers were needed at the end of 2018. Combined with the high turnover rate, it means that safe and qualified drivers will always have a place in the industry.
However, why do truck drivers shy away from flatbed trucking?
There’s no doubt that flatbed driving is more demanding than other types of freight transportation. Loads are usually heavy, oversized, or have an unusual shape and can’t be enclosed with walls. This poses a challenge for the driver on how to load and secure the haul safely.
That being said, there are also misconceptions about flatbed hauling that are downright false. These myths and unfounded opinions contribute to the current reputation of driving a flatbed truck.
Here are five of the most common myths that you shouldn’t believe.
Myth 1: Flatbed Drivers Are Underpaid
One of the most baffling myths about flatbed driving is that it’s a low paying job. Why would anyone accept a more difficult job if it’s going to pay less?
This statement is blatantly false.
If you look at the hard numbers, you’ll see that flatbed truckers consistently earn more than a typical truck driver. If the average annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers is $45,260, a flatbed driver’s yearly pay rate is about $55,000 to $60,000.
Those ten thousand dollars on top of the average? You can get that while driving the same distance as other truck drivers.
Trucking companies pay flatbed truck drivers more per mile because they know that it’s a tougher job. You should expect compensation in the form of higher pay for the challenging nature of the work. You can also earn extra money for doing additional work such as tarping.
Myth 2: The Additional Labor Cuts Into Paid Time
This myth is related to the first one. Some people believe that the time spent loading, unloading, and triple-checking eats into your pay.
There are two reasons why this is incorrect.
The first is that it’s usually faster to load and unload a flatbed truck compared to a dry van. Most of the time, you’re dealing with one or two large freights. This means that forklifts or cranes will be used to load and unload your haul and this doesn’t require much time nor effort from you.
The second reason is that flatbed trucks are loaded and unloaded fewer times on a typical route compared to other trailers. Like we mentioned, the common freight for flatbed is one or two large merchandise which means that you only need to stop at one location or two. Compare that to other types of trucking where you may be required to unload your goods at multiple different locations.
Also, if for some reason you got held up at receivers or shippers, your company will normally compensate you for the time spent.
Myth 3: The Training Is Long and Arduous
To become a flatbed driver, you’ll have to develop a particular set of skills. Of course, you need to learn how to load and secure your freight properly. Tarping is another technique that you have to know since some loads may require some form of cover.
However, these skills aren’t difficult to master at all. It only takes a few weeks to complete the course and this will be even shorter if you have previous hauling experience. The key is to find the right company that will provide the necessary training and education so you can do your job safely.
You also don’t need to transition from a regular truck driver to a flatbed hauler. You can begin your career as a flatbed trucker directly. All you need is the perseverance to complete the training and then you’ll have a competitive advantage against other drivers.
Myth 4: It’s a Risky Job and May Not Be Worth It
We’re not going to lie to you. Driving a flatbed trailer is very challenging and carries an inherent danger. It requires careful attention to detail because a small mistake can have big consequences.
If you failed to secure your freight correctly, it may fall off during transport. Depending on the type and properties of the load, you might put yourself and others on the road in peril.
All that is true but that’s the reason for your robust training. Safe practices and the best operating procedures should be ingrained in you. You’ll have the know-how to prevent these dangerous situations from happening in the first place.
If the driver adheres to the proper loading and securing standards, the risks go down significantly. Also, you can increase your alert level and concentration by being well-rested.
Yes, it’s a risky job but well-trained and well-rested drivers can minimize the dangers. That’s why flatbed truck drivers get paid the big bucks!
Myth 5: Flatbed Trucking Promotes a Sedentary Lifestyle
A sedentary routine is usually unavoidable for all truckers. You spend long hours sitting behind the wheel as you travel from point A to point B. That’s the life of a trucker in general.
Of course, as doctors say, a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy. It could lead to obesity, heart disease, and other health problems. However, a flatbed trucker’s routine is different and involves plenty of physical activities.
Most drivers welcome the additional physical labor during loading and unloading as a chance to break the monotony of driving. It allows them to use their muscles, sweat, and get their heart pumping. It’s way better than waiting on the driver’s seat while your truck is loading.
With the extra exercise, you will feel more energized. This helps to prevent experiencing drowsiness while you’re on the road.
As you can see, flatbed truck drivers are more active on the job and therefore experience fewer issues from a sedentary lifestyle.
These Flatbed Myths Are Flat-Out Wrong
Hopefully, with this article, we’ve dispelled the myths about flatbed trucking. Flatbed truck driving can be a great career choice so don’t be discouraged if you’re curious.
Are you interested in a career with us? We at Patriot Freight Group are always looking for talented professionals to join our fleet, especially US veterans. Check out our job page for more information and to download an application form.