What Is a Flatbed Truck? Ins and Outs Revealed!

What Is a Flatbed Truck | Weight, Hauling Capacity, Rates?

You’ve seen those peculiarly long trucks on the highway, right? With a completely flatbed that isn’t enclosed on any sides by anything, these trucks always seemed like a major hazard to me.

I recently found that these trucks are extremely vital in taking up the key role of transporting huge, oddly shaped cargo that regular trucks and lorries cannot encase.

They are popular for transporting materials required for big construction projects or for fleet management.

However, flatbed trucking is limited to things that won’t get damaged under open skies.

So, it probably won’t be a good fit as a moving truck for your new apartment.

If you want to truck a flatbed, pause that idea, and let’s discuss a bit more.

There’s more to this trucking service that you need to be aware of.

What Are Flatbed Trucks Used For?

Flatbed trucking and trailers doesn’t tend to personal needs, so what are flatbed trucks used for or the main purpose of flatbed trailers?

These trucks are generally used in big-scale hauls for major construction, transportation, and manufacture.

They are used to carry materials/machines for agriculture, towing, and dumping.

To determine whether a flatbed truck will meet your hauling needs, look at its overall load capacity, its size, and the presence or absence of loading and unloading aids.

There are many kinds of flatbed trucks available, even each available to rent or lease. We’ll take a close look at them now.

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Types of Flatbed Trailers

One thing that doesn’t change for any of these flatbeds is that their floor is always flat.

This, however, doesn’t affect variety – so let’s get to know the different types now.

  1. Standard Flatbed Trucks

This one is the basic type of truck among flatbeds. There are no sides, doors, or roof – just a bed unprotected from every angle.

Yes, it’s dangerous if the cargo comes off loose, but very useful for moving huge cumbersome cargo and large machinery between locations.

  1. Extendable Flatbeds /Flatbed Stretch Trucks

If you have cargo that is too long for a standard flatbed, then this extendable flatbed is your first alternative.

They are pretty much the same as the standard ones, but can carry more freight weight.

The deck length is 48 feet, but you can pull it out to about 80 feet.

It’s width and height are both 8 feet 6 inches. The maximum weight these can carry is 43,000 pounds.

  1. Double Drop Deck Flatbed Truck/Lowboys

The double drop flatbed truck has decks at two different levels.

But as the name suggests, the second floor drops by two more degrees on this double drop flatbed, and thus you get even more overhead clearance to carry cargo that crosses over the legal height limit.

These trucks are most commonly used to carry hauls that require cranes to load and offload.

The trucks are too close to the ground level to be limited by cargo heights.

They sit only 18 inches off the ground, so they are capable of carrying freight that is about 11 feet and 6 inches tall.

Generally, they are used to transport heavy loads, machinery, and military equipment on a vast scale.

A few examples are bulldozers, excavators, and other equipment of such measure.

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  1. Side Kit Flatbed

These trucks come with a protected perimeter. There are metal spines, panels, and stakes around the edge of the flat floor, but you can detach them if it’s required.

This truck is used for carrying cargo that isn’t too large to be tied down, and neither are they too delicate to be left exposed.

Definitely, you will have more limitations with a side kit truck, so here’s the measurement that you need to watch out for.

You can carry a maximum freight weight of 45,000 pounds, the length of the cargo has to be within 48 to 53 feet, the maximum width should be 8 feet 4 inches, and the maximum height should be within 8 feet 6 inches.

  1. Removable Gooseneck Truck (RGN)

This one is a very odd-looking truck. There are three decks on it to suit variable load height.

The main and the front one is 29 feet long and 8 ft 6 inches high. But they differ by length.

The main deck’s length is 29 feet, and the front deck is 10 feet long. And the rear deck has the same width as the other decks, but it’s 9 feet long and 10 feet high.

The maximum freight weight it can bear is 42,000 pounds.

Versatility is the specialty of these RGN trucks – their axles can be added or removed from them according to the load you need to carry.

You can use as few as 3 axles or as many as 20.

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Maximum Weight Capacity of a Flatbed Trailer

The weight capacity depends on a number of factors like the engine, space between the axle, the health of your vehicle, and whether it comes with a transfer case.

However, the maximum bridge weight capacities are:

  • 3-axle truck: 54,000 pounds
  • 4-axle truck: 66,000 pounds
  • 5-axle truck: 80,000 pounds
  • 6- axle truck: 80,000 pounds.

How Much Weight Can A Flatbed Truck Carry?

Restrictions with a Flatbed Trailer

You need to be meticulous when you’re carrying cargo that is big enough to demand the use of a flatbed trailer.

Big cargo and wide load are both safety concerns on the road. You need to be aware that there are a lot of restrictions on such a flatbed trucking job for these reasons.

  • Stay within the Legal Weight Limit on Flatbed Cargo

Every state has its own legal limits for a shipment coming in and going out.

Here’s a general overview to give you some ideas on the legality of the height, length, and width of a cargo.

For your cargo to be within the limit, it should weigh no more than 46,000 pounds.

You also need to be very particular with the dimensions of the cargo you’re carrying.

The cargo shouldn’t be more than 102 inches in width and height, and it should definitely be within the legal range for the length, which is 48 to 53 feet.

However, the numbers stated above are just to give you a general estimation.

Check out the equipment guide if you want to know measurements specific to the flatbed trailer you’re using.

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  • Know What to Do with Oversized Loads

Oversized labels are often sealed upon wide loads. If the load crosses 8.5 feet in width, it will be considered “overweight”.

And if it exceeds a width of 12 feet, then you have to get escort vehicles at the front and back of your flatbed so that they can pilot you.

Note: Piloting or escorting refers to the system of having one or more vehicles that will work with you as a team to guide you on road conditions via the radio.

It ensures that you have a knowledge of overhead traffic, bridges, low wires, and other obstacles on the road.

In some cases, pilot vehicles also warn the outside vehicles so that they get out of your way.

  • Overall Charges for Using Travel Escorts

Escort vehicle services have to be paid according to their rate on the basis of each mile they cover with your loads.

There are additional costs that need to be paid along with the mile rates.

You have to pay for the escort/pilot drivers on the stops that you make at motels, hotels, cafes, etc., on the way; this is all included in the overall charges on flatbed freight control.

  • Time Limitations on the Road

You cannot get the flatbed truck to deliver freight at any time of the day.

There is a fixed time schedule that comes with specific time limits set upon flatbeds with oversized loads, and you need to adhere to those timings.

Generally, you get to have the flatbed out on the road 30 minutes before sunrise and keep going till 30 minutes after sunrise.

That’s it. A loaded flatbed truck shouldn’t be on the road when there is no sign of daylight.

  • Take Necessary Permits

Before setting out for the trucking jobs, flatbed drivers should acquire every necessary permit that their oversized load requires.

Since the trucking industry works differently in each state, the trucking permits have to be issued from the states registered as your job site, not from the government body.

Three types of permits are issued: 1) divisible loads, non-divisible loads, 2) overwidth permits, and 3) state overload permits. Get what you need.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much weight can a flatbed truck carry?

Every flatbed truck has different dimensions. The weight capacity varies for every truck.

But in general, a flatbed truck measures 48 ft in length, 8.5 ft in width, and has a freight height limit of 8.5 ft.

Such a vehicle will be able to carry 48,000 pounds at once.

Do drivers get paid more for driving flatbed trucks?

Yes, flatbed truck drivers get more money than other truck drivers, and they must always go for more regular training and more certifications / CDL needed.

What is the rate for flatbed trucks?

The national average flatbed rate is $3.07/mile. In the Southeast, the rate is the highest, whereas it’s the lowest in the West.  (Source:  TCI Business Capital)

Are flatbed trucks dangerous?

Yes, there’s no denying the fact that these trucks are incredibly hazardous. The freight has to be properly tied into place from all possible angles that are of potential danger.

If the freight comes loose even a little bit, there is a chance for the whole load to shoot off and hit other passing vehicles.

Flatbed trailer vs truck – what’s the difference?

There is a major difference between a flatbed trailer and a flatbed truck.

The difference is that a flatbed trailer is a standalone non-motorized vehicle that can only move when towed or pulled, while a flatbed truck is a motorized vehicle that moves on its own.

This difference between a flatbed trailer and a flatbed truck, means you should get a trailer if you already have a truck or you want a truck that you can also drive to town or to the bar.

You should get a flatbed truck if you want a truck that you will use strictly use for work or you want a flatbed vehicle that is easier to maneuver than a flatbed trailer.

While the biggest difference between a flatbed trailer and a flatbed truck is that the truck can move on its own, there is also a major similarity.

The similarity is that a flatbed trailer and a flatbed truck will always have a similarly-shaped cargo carrying part with no roof or sides.

Because both flatbed trucks and trailers have a flatbed, they can be loaded and unloaded from any side. This makes them very convenient to use.

How much does a 24ft flatbed truck weigh?

It depends with the model and what’s fitted on it. The curb (resting) weight of a 24-foot flatbed truck is on average something between 9,000 and 15,000 pounds.

What is flatbed truck driving?

Flatbed truck driving is simply learning how to drive a flatbed truck.

While driving a flatbed truck is not the hardest thing to do, it requires a bit of training for one to be able to maneuver a flatbed truck masterfully.

And in case you didn’t know, a flatbed truck is a large truck with a flat cargo-carrying area that has no roof and no sides.

Flatbed trucks are frequently utilized to transport heavy cargo and this is why it is important for you to learn about flatbed truck driving before getting behind the wheel in a flatbed truck.

What does a flatbed truck look like?

By definition, a flatbed truck is a truck that has a flat bed (cargo-carrying part).

A truck bed is referred to as flat when it has no roof and no sides.

Most trucks available on the market are non-flatbed trucks. They have beds with sides and sometimes with sides and a roof.

Because flatbed trucks are flat, it is very easy for you to load or unload cargo from them. The trucks are typically used to transport heavy goods that do not require protection from harsh weather, dirt, dust, and debris.

What do these big rigs carry?

Flatbed trucks are most often used to carry construction materials, heavy equipment, landscaping materials, and military equipment.

Examples of construction materials frequently transported on flatbed trucks include concrete, lumber, bricks, scaffolding, steel frames, I-beams, and metal pipes.

Examples of heavy equipment frequently transported on flatbed trucks include Bobcats, cranes, backhoes, aircraft parts, ranching equipment, and so on.

Examples of landscaping materials commonly carried on flatbed trucks include mature trees, mulch, landscaping soil, grass, tools, and so on.

Lastly, examples of military equipment frequently carried using flatbed trucks including military tanks, Humvees, personnel carriers, and heavy weaponry.

What Is The Rate For Flatbed Trucks?

What is the max weight on each truck?

The maximum weight you can put on a flatbed truck depends.

This is because different trucks have different weight capacities.

That said, a flatbed truck can on average carry anywhere between 3,000 and 36,000 pounds.

So, if you are looking for a flatbed truck that can carry whatever cargo you want, make sure the truck you choose actually has the capacity to carry what you want it to carry.

Can you use a flatbed truck in GTA 5?

Absolutely yes! You can utilize a flatbed truck in Grand Theft Auto V.

However, to use a flatbed truck you need to play the game in Story Mode.

When you play the game in Story Mode you will be able to find and steal the vehicle. The truck is not available for purchase.

How much weight can a 53 ft flatbed carry?

A 53-foot flatbed can carry approximately 48,000 pounds.

How much does a Bradford Built flatbed cost?

It depends with the design of the flatbed. A Bradford Mustang bed flatbed will cost about $3600. The average price for a flatbed is between $3,000 and $7000 for a piece.

How much does a CM flatbed weight?

It depends with the model. One of the most popular CM flatbed models is the RD 34 model and it weighs 1,260 pounds.

How much does a skirted flatbed weigh?

Different size and style skirted flatbeds have different weights. A skirted flatbed truck is often about 250 pounds heavier than a non-skirted flatbed truck.

What should be used to tie the freight on a flatbed truck?

Use a bunch of different types of high-quality attaching tools: thick nylon ropes, ratchet straps, buckle straps, and bungee cords. Also, use at least four straps to tie down freights of minimum weight.


Flatbed trucks are quite unique in their ability to haul.

Their main purpose is to help with the transportation of loads that exceed regular proportions.

A flatbed truck is for all those items that are too big or too irregular to be carried in any other freight lorry.

We hope you understand the basics of flatbed trucks now. If you have more questions, feel free to ask us.