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What Is Hot Shot Trucking? Here Are the Key Things to Know

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Do you need a small delivery dropped off fast and without fuss? Or do you have a truck and want to become your own boss? In any of these positions, you need to join the hundreds of others who are reaping the benefits of hot shot trucking.

Hot shot trucking is quickly becoming a go-to service for customers who want deliveries, and drivers who want a more flexible schedule. Read on to find out how hot shot freight can benefit you.

What is Hot Shot Trucking?

Hot shot trucking originated in the oilfields of Texas. It was the term given to trucks that would pick up parts for pumping stations and off-road drilling, then deliver them as quickly as possible to their intended destination. Since then, the term has stuck and has come to describe medium to 1-ton trucks that deliver time-sensitive loads.

The practice has recently started to gain more popularity. This is due to the surge in drivers who want to be their own boss. They can often do this with a low outlay, that requires the purchase of only a truck and trailer. This can be done on finance, meaning start-up costs can be almost non-existent.

You may encounter the term hot shot freight or hot shot load. These terms are used to describe the cargo being transported by the driver. These loads can typically be anything that would fit in the back of a flatbed truck or small trailer.

Advantages of Hiring a Hot Shot Truck

Hiring a hotshot driver typically costs much less than the standard delivery. Large companies have large trucks that are expensive to run. As space is at a premium, they cost more to transport your goods in.

Much smaller loads can also be transported using hot shot delivery. If your cargo is small enough to fit in a pickup, it makes more sense to have someone drive to you and pick it up, then deliver it immediately. With a large company, you may have to transport it to a depot, then wait a day for the processing and eventual movement.

Advantages of Becoming a Hot Shot Driver

If you are thinking of becoming a driver, there are a number of advantages. One is that most of your pickups and drop-offs should be fairly local. That means you can order your own schedule and daily routine.

You will get a lot of business because many people want to transport smaller loads, which are just not cost-effective if sent on large haulage rigs. Finally, all you need to begin is a truck and a trailer. Fuel costs are much lower than running a rig so you will save money here.


Apart from a driving license, there are very few hot shot trucking requirements. It is a myth that you need a CDL license or an international fuel tax agreement. All you have to do is stick to a few rules.

The first is that your vehicle does not take loads exceeding 26,000 pounds. This negates your requirements for an international registration plan and fuel tax agreement. If loads are kept to less than 10,000 pounds then you also do not need a commercial license.

Some documents are compulsory, however, and the first is a Motor Carrier Authority Number. After this, you need approval from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and be able to meet their physical requirements that allow you to drive. These are basic tests for things such as eyesight and reactions.

Requirements for Larger Loads

If you start to transport goods over the weight limit of 10,000 pounds then your requirements increase a little. Once your truck, trailer, and loads combined weight tips this point, the Department of Transportation has some easy to follow requests.

Logbooks are required to make note of any deliveries. You may also wish to write down rest periods for long haul trips in this. Restrictions on driving and rest time according to the DOT rules need following.

All vehicles must carry a fire extinguisher and be fitted with reflectors. Finally, they must have a DOT license plate and load sticker.

What Type of Trucks Can Be Used?

Class 3 to 5 trucks are typically used in hot shot freight. The larger the truck, the bigger the load you can carry. However, it takes you closer to having to comply with more regulations so you may want to stick to class 3 and take on smaller jobs if you do not want this extra effort.

A range of makes and models are available for hot shot trucking. Ford has the E-350 and F-350. Chevrolet has the Silverado in a range of options which can all be suitable. GMC and Dodge also do a range of affordable, reliable vehicles that could be used.

What Types of Trailers Could Be Used?

Bumper pull trailers are the most commonly used trailers. They are light and cheap to buy, so keep the overall weight down. However, they are really only suitable for smaller loads.

Gooseneck trailers allow for heavier loads. They are longer and have a wider turning radius than a bumper pull. However, for some, you may need extra licensing.

Tilt deck trailers allow you to lower the back of the trailer and drive on items with wheels. This can be extremely helpful for loading vehicles. Dovetail trailers are similar but with a more gradual incline.

Deckover trailers are a very viable option. They have a wider platform for more goods and do not lose space due to wheel arches. You may also consider lowboy trailers, which are best suited for small, compact but heavy cargo shipments.

Getting Started With Hot Shot Freight

In summary, hot shot trucking is ideal for anyone wanting to ship small loads, and a great option for employment if you already have a truck. There are a number of ways to find a hot shot driver in your area, and many companies are looking to take hot shot drivers on as workers.

Patriot Freight Group is one such logistics solutions company. We have a number of delivery options for your business, from small carriers to larger haulage jobs. Contact us today for a quote on the best and most reliable trucking solutions available.

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