By weight, trucks move 72.5% of America’s freight each year. Trucks come in all sizes and shapes, but heavy cargo requires a special type of transportation called heavy haul trucking.
Any truck driver who handles extra heavy cargo must take special precautions. Drivers use heavy-duty semi-trucks to handle heavy hauling. If you are wondering how heavy loads are transported, we’ll guide you through the fascinating world of heavy hauling.
What Constitutes a Heavy Haul?
You may think that all trucking jobs involve heavy cargo, and that’s largely true. The weight of freight can vary widely, though.
Numbers vary by state, but loads that are beyond the typical legal limit by size and weight are generally considered heavy loads that require special types of trucking.
Cargo that is 8.6 feet or longer in width, taller than 13.6 feet, and longer than 53 feet can safely be called a heavy haul. By weight, anything more than 80,000 pounds could be considered a heavy load.
Types of Cargo Found in Heavy Hauling
You may have noticed heavy hauls on the highway. Usually, they have a yellow banner on the back that reads “Oversize Load.” Heavy hauls are often accompanied by cars or trucks that stay ahead and/or behind the semi-truck to ensure that drivers maintain a safe distance from the cargo.
Examples of cargo commonly found on heavy hauls include:
- Construction equipment
- Military equipment
- Trailer Homes
- Wind turbines
- Natural gas compressors
- Other vehicles
Although these are some of the more common types of loads found in heavy hauling, pretty much any type of material or equipment needs to be transported at some point before reaching its final destination.
Who Drives Heavy Loads?
Any truck driver who drives semi-trucks must have a Commercial Driver’s License. A CDL will cover many of the skills needed to drive heavy loads. Heavy load drivers skillfully drive the types of trailers and trucks that characterize oversize loads.
Common skills that heavy load drivers need to understand include:
- An understanding of applicable state laws
- Knowing how to coordinate escorts
- Knowing how to select appropriate routes
- The ability to lift power lines
- Knowing which permits are needed
For these reasons, drivers who carry heavy loads are often specially licensed for the work. The companies they work for often specialize in heavy loads too.
How Much do Heavy Loads Truckers Earn?
The average salary for a heavy haul trucker is $75,000, according to Indeed. Salaries range depending on experience, location, and the type of cargo that is typically hauled.
Truck driving careers are in high demand. Around 230,000 truck driver job openings are expected each year for the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What Goes Into a Heavy Haul Trip?
Heavy haul truck drivers perform a wide range of tasks before, during, and after each delivery. Most drivers will work with a familiar truck. If the vehicle is unfamiliar, drivers will read the vehicle’s manual. The manual will include information on hauling capacity.
Next, drivers must inspect the truck and the cargo. Tires, brakes, and lights are three critical pieces of equipment. Old and worn tires are more likely to deflate or potentially blow out under the extreme pressure of heavy hauling.
The weight of the cargo load can also put extra pressure on brakes. Light inspection requires checking that all break and turn lights function properly.
The cargo should also be inspected. Drivers look for vulnerable parts of the cargo that may be exposed to the elements. Covering the surfaces of the cargo is one task that protects the load.
Pros of a Career in Heavy Trucking
Trucking doesn’t require years of training or even extensive experience. Once you earn your CDL, you’re well on your way to being able to haul heavy loads.
Truck drivers fall in the category of essential workers. No matter what happens to the economy, the U.S. economy will always need drives. Heavy haul truckers are the lifeblood of the United States economy.
Even if you work for a company, your work experience will be one of independence. If you enjoy having the freedom to work on your own without someone looking over your shoulder, heavy haul trucking is an ideal career option.
Truck drivers also enjoy an interesting job that isn’t tedious. If the idea of filing paperwork in the same cubicle is offputting, you may be better suited for being on the road.
Cons of a Career in Heavy Trucking
If you spend several hours a day on the road, you may have to take extra care to maintain your health. Truck drivers often rely on fast food, but that isn’t true for all drivers.
Fatigue is a reality of life when you’re driving long hours on the road. Exercising, taking naps, and exercising can help drivers stay alert while working.
Driving can be lonely work. If you need human interaction during work, driving heavy haul trucks may not be an ideal career option.
Learn More About the Heavy Haul Profession
Every bridge pillar, construction crane placement, and trailer home was able to reach its destination because of the skills of a heavy haul truck driver. Every industry relies on the services of these highly-skilled drivers.
Are you ready to move some freight? Patriot Freight Group, your supply chain solution, serves a wide range of industries. Whether your freight is related to oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, or any other major industry, our trucks and crew are ready for the job.
To schedule a logistics consultation, contact our office today.