How Hotshotting Is Changing the Trucking Industry

Jack Shaw Posted on: 2024-05-21 10:10:00 Viewer: 3,104 Comments: 0 Country: United States City: New York

How Hotshotting Is Changing the Trucking Industry

The trucking industry is critical to the U.S. economy. Truckers are responsible for transporting goods from warehouses to retailers — without this sector, consumers couldn’t get the items they need.

Long-haul trucking prioritizes full truckloads (FTL) and multi-day trips, which can stand in opposition to the fast shipping consumers have come to expect. With the growth of e-commerce and online shopping, customers anticipate their orders to arrive at their front door in a matter of days, if not overnight. Retailers and manufacturers are looking for new ways to send products the same or next day.

Hot shot trucking has filled this need and changed the entire sector. Hot shot trucking transports less-than-truckload (LTL) loads to a location by a specific time. The trucks are typically small specialized vehicles with trailers since the loads don’t require a full-size semi.

Hot shot trucking is revolutionizing the industry by allowing drivers to enter the field without significantly investing in equipment and seek competitive opportunities in a fast-growing industry. The sector is flexible and agile, able to meet ever-changing consumer demands.

A Lucrative Gig for Owner-Operators

Hot shot trucking allows drivers to work full time or as a side hustle while maintaining control over the number of hours worked, what they carry and where they drive.

Online hot shot trucking marketplaces or load boards allow truckers seeking work and companies searching for qualified drivers to find one another. Businesses post positions and drivers can read about the job and contact them if interested.

While the rates are not standardized, many companies are willing to pay well to transport a load immediately. The amount of money a hot shot truck driver makes depends on many factors, like the equipment needed for the job, the type of load, their experience, the number of hours and more.

Truck drivers can also set a cost-per-driving mile rate when starting freelancing. Having a rate in mind allows them to choose financially beneficial jobs. It should consider fuel costs, maintenance and insurance. Drivers can search load boards to find jobs that meet their price point.

Fewer Barriers to Entry

Drivers who want to take hot shot hauls can do so nearly immediately since these jobs have only a few requirements in place.

Hot shot truckers need their own equipment. While a semi-truck is unnecessary, most jobs require a medium-duty truck as classified by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). They are typically noncommercial vehicles, like flatbeds, pickups, box trucks or delivery vans, licensed for commercial work. A compatible trailer that can safely haul the load is also required, like a bumper pull or gooseneck. This equipment is less expensive than long-haul trucks, which appeals to truckers interested in freelancing.

Hot shot truckers may be able to get by without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) — loads under 10,000 pounds don’t require one, so the driver only needs their standard license.

Besides equipment, hot shot truck drivers need experience transporting various types of loads. Pay rates are often based on experience, and companies are looking for truckers who can confidently transport the load to its destination.

Truck drivers can immediately start in-state jobs after obtaining a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number and a motor carrier (MC) number. However, if hauling over state lines, hot shot truckers must be aware of various regulations, like documentation with an electronic logging device (ELD).

More Local and Regional Hauls Than Ever Before

The common picture of trucking is long hauls across many states, possibly the whole country. On the other hand, hot shot trucking focuses on shorter journeys of only a few hundred miles. Local and regional hauls support the e-commerce boom and consumer demand for immediate or overnight delivery. Companies that use electric-powered trucks should also plan quick trips to accommodate their shorter driving range. 

The local focus of hotshotting may also impact truck drivers’ preferences across the industry. Operators may be more likely to prefer these short routes over a long haul or overnight job. Localized hot shot trucking also allows companies to coordinate their local warehouses to create more regional trips for truckers.

U.S. Trucker Shortage Alleviation

The trucking industry has recently experienced a shortage of qualified drivers. Most are at retirement age, yet there is a lack of candidates available to take over these positions.

Trucking is typically seen as long-haul and overnight journeys, requiring truck drivers to spend several days away from family. Some jobs also have unsatisfactory compensation for the work required. The long hours and solitude leave some truckers in poor physical and mental health. These drawbacks of long-haul trucking are bringing the U.S. trucker shortage — and the nation’s supply chains — to a crisis point. 

Hot shot trucking presents a mutually beneficial opportunity for truck drivers and companies. Since many of these routes are shorter, they appeal more to drivers. Local work can lead to a better work-life balance, allowing them to spend more time with their families and less on the road. The freelance nature of hotshotting empowers truckers to seek jobs with fair rates or charge rates in line with their experience.

Companies that embrace hot shot trucking can reduce turnover and help alleviate the industry’s driver shortage.

Sustainability Initiatives Are Supported

Many industries, including trucking, are realizing their responsibility to sustainability and are working to reduce pollution and carbon emissions. Hot shot trucking can help companies support their eco-friendly goals. The shorter hauls have fewer emissions than long ones. Drivers may also be able to use electric-powered trucks instead of diesel, reducing the carbon footprint from the journey.

Besides the equipment, truck drivers can freelance to reduce wasted miles. If it's a deadhead haul, they can browse a load board to find a job that takes them back to their starting point. Hot shot loads allow them to earn money for a trip they’d have to make regardless.

Online Load Booking Is the New Standard

The technology boom has impacted every industry, and hot shot trucking is no exception. Online load booking through a digital or app platform is becoming more popular, especially with hot shot loads. Booking loads online is more commonplace than it used to be and is becoming the new industry standard. This benefits truckers and companies by saving time and making the process more efficient.

The Future of Hot Shot Trucking

Hot shot trucking has allowed the industry to meet retailers' need for fast, reliable shipping and created new freelance opportunities for truckers. The sector will continue to change, allowing companies to make strategic and profitable business decisions.


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