Hotshot trucks fill a need in the trucking world. They haul special loads under special circumstances. The United States Department of Transportation makes distinctions in the rules that govern their work. It's important to know what they are.
The Basics of Hotshot Trucking
The Department of Transportation (DOT) allows hotshot truckers more latitude than other commercial truckers. They use the term to mean a trucker who uses a small truck and handles a single load or a group of smaller loads that total, including the truck and trailer and anything else pressing down on the tires, less than 10,001 pounds. The DOT doesn't apply its usual regulations to trucks carrying loads that small. Hotshot drivers work for hospitals, carrying time-sensitive items, or for businesses supplying small items to restock inventories at retail shops. They usually drive 3/4 ton pickups with fifth-wheel trailers attached. A fifth-wheel trailer attaches to the truck using a post attached to the middle of the pickup bed.
Matters of Weight
The weight distinction between less than 10,001 pounds and more than 10,001 pounds is important. Any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight including the weight of the truck and trailer, the driver, the gasoline and the load that goes over 10,001 pounds falls under virtually all of the extensive regulations controlling the biggest tractor trailers. All drivers of trucks and trailers over 10,001 pounds must keep a current driver logbook, have a fire extinguisher, reflectors, obey restrictions on driving time and rest time, and have a DOT license plate and load sticker. The drivers of trucks under 10,001 pounds of gross vehicle weight don't need to abide by any of those rules.
The Way It Works
Hotshot truckers typically make just one stop per trip. They handle one load with one destination. The load can be as small as one envelope. They get work from freight expediters, who line up loads, destinations, and pay, and offer them to truckers at truck stops or over the internet. The freight expediters take care of the paperwork.