Heavy haul freight involves the transportation of goods that exceeds the limitations set by each state for any portion of its roadways. This typically means that the cargo is exceptionally larger than any freight which can be legally transported on a typical flatbed trailer because of its height, width, or weight. Some examples of these types of loads may include construction materials or equipment, manufactured homes or wind turbines.
The safe and successful transport of these heavy haul loads requires experienced, professional CDL drivers. Specifically, drivers working in this field need to have specialized knowledge to determine the appropriate trailer required for hauling any given type of goods or material. Examples of trailers that may be used include double drops, extended trailers, removable goose necks, step decks and trailers containing multiple axels, among others.
Legal Requirements of Oversized, Overweight and Super Loads
Truck drivers must be aware of the complex permit process that is involved with heavy haul freight trucking jobs. In most states, a legal load is one that is no more than 13’6” tall, 8’6” wide and 53′ long and meets the weight rules of both federal and state bodies regulating transportation.
While federal regulations do not require any special permits for oversized or overweight loads, because of the potential disruption to common traffic flow, states may choose to regulate heavy haul loads by requesting any of the following information prior to transport:
- An engineering survey of the load and route
- Drawing of the shipment
- Explanation of why it is not feasible to divide the shipment into parts that could be transported in an alternative manner
- Route survey to confirm that overhead signals, lines, railroad crossings and bridges don’t pose a hazard
- Bridge analysis determining the weight limit and axle configuration
- Analysis of traffic patterns and emergency vehicle routes
- Trial run of the transportation route
- Use of state-approved pilot cars and support
- Surety bond
Some states, counties, cities, or other municipalities on your route may impose addition travel restrictions that only allow drivers to transport heavy haul freight during specified times, either day and night depending on the state, or prohibit travel during periods that might adversely impact roadways, such as spring thaw when roads may be soft.
Pros and Cons of Heavy Haul Freight
Any professional driver who chooses to haul heavy cargo must understand that each assignment will have its own unique considerations and challenges. Planning is key. Because of limitations along the route, the driver will need to thoroughly plot the route to avoid any obstacles along the way. The driver must be able to think quickly in his or her seat when presented with a problem and adapt to the situation.
Patience is also a very essential character trait. With the sheer number of people involved in the permitting process across every state along the route, the pilot drivers, dispatch and your customer, there are bound to be hiccups along the way. Patience and the ability to communicate with all of those involved in the process is key to transporting the load safely and successfully.
The Future for Heavy Haul Drivers
According to ZipRecruiter.com as of October 2022, heavy haul truckers in the U.S. currently may earn up to $114,500, with the average annual wage to these drivers coming in around $$64,800. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the demand for truck drivers willing to haul these loads is expected to continue to grow at an average page through 2026.
Given the enhanced skills and character traits that a heavy haul driver must demonstrate, it is not surprising that over 52 percent of drivers who transport this type of freight have over 10 years’ experience in the trucking industry.
How to Get into Heavy Haul Trucking
If you are looking to get into heavy haul trucking or make a change within the industry, jobs boards, such as CDLjobs.com, offer drivers the opportunity to research and apply to several trucking companies using a single application. You will have the opportunity to connect with a variety of carriers to make sure that you understand the needs of the company and how those needs balance against your own.
While there are many benefits to heavy haul trucking jobs, we are here to help you understand both the benefits and the drawbacks prior to getting into this type of position.