Frequently asked question we hear in the trucking industry

1. What is the difference between a Flatbed and a Step Deck?

A flatbed is one continuous deck generally up to 48’ but sometimes you find 53’ foot too, whereas a Step Deck (or sometimes called Drop Deck) has a risen area on the front of the trailer usually from 8-11’ in length and then from 37-42’ on length on the bottom. The idea is to allow customers to legally haul taller freight when they move stuff.  Flatbeds usually weight less and can haul more weight then a SD.  Both trailers come with tandem axle and spread axle configurations - a spread axle can put more weight on the axle, but still must limit to the same 80,000 lbs gross total.  

2. How can I tell what type of trailer that I need ?

A flat bed can legally haul up to 102” tall on a load, that brings them to 13-6” on height which is legal in all states - West of the Mississippi the general rule is up to 14' tall w/o permits. A Step Deck can haul up to 122” on height, a low profile SD range up to 126" tall, which is also 13-6” tall, again legal in all states - west of the Miss River, you can add on the additional 4" as well. A  Double Drop/RGN can legally haul up to 138” on the trailer (west of the Miss River - 4" rule applies). There is variances on both of these based on state law and trailer types, but following these suggestions will always keep you safe, just make sure to measure your freight from only the freight aspect, not sitting up on pedalstals or blocks or lumber. Pallets only count if they shipping with the freight in measuring.

3. What is a Conestoga Trailer?

A Conestoga Trailer is a type of trailer that encloses the freight in a weather tight environment, but the benefit is nothing has to touch the freight. People that ship exotic cars or freight that has more fragile components on top especially, generally choose to shop with Conestoga trailers. Keep in mind, with the enclosure, the overall height and width dimensions you can ship will be a little bit smaller, so check with us before requesting this type of trailer - Everything from the deck height, to the size of the conestoga kit purchased, the manufacturer and even the tire size on the axles can affect the height inside that can be hauled - this information is critical to you getting the right trailer for the job. They are “A LOT” more expensive then using a regular open deck trailer as the industry wide supply of them is still very low and demand is getting very high
Call CR Danstar Trans if you would like to know more about them or get one booked on your freight - we have approx 350 of them in our fleet as of 2020

4. Why does it cost so much to ship a load?

This is an age old million dollar question and generally can not be answered in a few sentences and from those of us very well educated in how this business works, we could talk for hours about it. I will say this though, competition or sometimes the lack there of can influence rates, calling a carrier at the last minute can affect rates being higher, availability in the region you want the freight loaded at can affect higher rates and one of the most prolific things that can affect rates is “TOO MANY HANDS IN THE POT” This is very large topic, but when you call direct broker or sometimes called a 3PL, the only thing they do is turn around and call a carrier for you, that will always entail a markup in price in some way shape or form, often times it’s the driver that loses on that markup though, sad to say, they do 80% of the work and lose 40-80% of the gross rate many times. If you truly want the best rates, take the time and effort to call a direct carrier (someone with trucks that have their name on it) yourself, do a little research and home work. Then if they can’t help and it gets brokered out, it is done so at a fair market rate, but at least you are usually going to get a FMR to begin with as well. It is a 1 to 1 situation, not a 2:1 or in some cases a 5:1 or more situation, that is lazy people not handing loads off when they don’t have direct access to equipment, but still wanting a piece of the pie. There is so much more to this than that, but you get the picture, we hope taking the time to go direct with a trucking carrier vs a 3rd, 4th or 5th party logistics company will always save you money, you avoid all the annual fees at the very least. I have heard horror stories where 3PL’s charge an annual fee of say $7 million dollars and pass along all the transportation charges as well. Now please tell me, how does that save you money, your spending 2 and 3 x the amount as opposed to going direct with a carrier. Is there some benefits, like outsourcing and not having employees, yes, you can consider that, but the age old stigma of the grapevine will always get in the way.


5. What is CSA and what does it stand for?

It stands for CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION or short for FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION and there is a lot more than can be read by clicking this link: In a nutshell: CSA was developed by the Federal Motor Carrier safety administration to evaluate and benchmark transportation companies on safety and fitness, it is based on the quality and performance of its drivers.

6. What is Back hauling?

This one is probably a $500,000 question, but originally (back in the day) backhauling was a method used to get trucks back to their home base, trucks would go out and come back, back in the day, trucks, even legal size loads, required more permits for taxation reasons. In the early 80’s President Ronald Reagan De-regulated the trucking industry and changed all of that regulation and taxation and the term should be died with the era, but it didn’t. The term is still used today and far to many actually abuse the definition. They (the brokers) will pay carriers on a back haul rate to get them to move at lower rates (more to it than that) but most won’t give their customers that same discount, they keep the money for themselves, this can happen with some carriers, but it more apt to happen in the 3PL and logistics business side of things, those w/o trucks that is. You see it cost the same to run a truck, no matter what direction you take it. Do you think fuel is any less going north, south, east or west? Insurance, tires, maintenance, driver salary even? NO ! Do you expect to make less money at your job because your boss moves your desk around the office a few times? HECK NO ! Yet this practice is common, but more and more as the paradigm in transportation shifts, drivers are slowly realizing what has happened and forcing brokers to pay more if they want the use of this truck, which again mind you does not usually affect the customer, it means the middleman has to earn less profit then they used to, and is why we say removing middlemen is a just good business ! This backhauling and the resulting rates structures of today play a great role in why the average age of the American truck driver/Owner Operator is 62 years old and the company driver is 58 years old. Grandmothers/grandfathers, mothers and fathers have long been telling their children they really do no want to be out in the world of trucking anymore it has gone done hill to a point of almost no return. The actual drivers are the ones who are expected to bear the brunt of all the changes out there and they can’t do it anymore… The younger generation has learned and is not as prone to entering the world of trucks as they once did in the past.

7. What is CARB?

Carb stands for CALIFORNIA AIR RESOURCE BOARD and is heavily regulating trucks and carriers that go into and operate in CA. I wish I could say I agree with them, but there is so much more to think about then just regulating the trucks. Many have seen the pollution that hinders over the west coast, it gets backed up because of the mountains, but if you think for one moment that is just because of all the trucks out there, you have a lot to learn. You might want to read about all the pollution that floats across from China and Indonesia because they don’t have all the pollution control factors on their plants that the USA requires, it just floats over in the Pacific prevailing winds and gets backed up at the mountains. You might also remember how bankrupt Californis has been and last I heard still is, what better way to make money that to start regulating the millions and millions of vehicles on their emissions, it’s a most lucrative business. Politics aside, clean air is important, no doubt about it, but how they go about trying to fix a problem that affects the world and the sectors that cause the least amount of the problem is nothing more than good politics to me.

8. What is Hazmat? 

This stands for Hazardous Materials and in short is the the more dangerous type of goods that must travel up and down the highways to get from point A to point B. You can see a truck that carriers hazmat (of any kind) simply by noticing the diamond shaped placard on one of the four sides of the trailer, that is special symbols and codes for the many different types of hazmat out here, you can sometimes get an idea, by looking at the pictures given, but not always. If you see a hazmat placard, especially at an accident scene, it is better to just call an expert and stay away, for an accident scene call 911 and tell them you saw hazmat placards on the vehicle, but don’t know what it stands for and they will take over the right way. 

9. What is AA & E 

This is typically very high risk hazmat and can deal more with government type hauling, but it can range from ammunition to high explosives to even just very top secret stuff. You would be amazed at what gets hauled around this country on trucks, stuff you never even thought existed gets hauled in todays trucks

10. Who is the DOT?

They are the Department of Transportation and also every truckers best friend, not really, but that is a joke too. They regulate the rules and regulations that govern the trucking industry and also enforce the laws as well, they also regulate the CSA rules too. They work with everything from trucks to cabs to buses and even ocean vessels that haul cargo and probably even influence the air cargo industry as well, but I’m not entirely sure on that one. That is why they called the Dept of Transportation though ! They regulate transporation.

Please if you have any other questions about trucking and transportation and no question is too silly as they related to trucking of course, because we’re not trained to answer questions about the galaxy and the many other industries we work in, but please feel free to contact us and let us know how we can help

11. What is ELD?

What is the anti coercion rule, when do the ELD’s officially take over? This is referred to as “an Electronic Logging Device” and we believe it will change the way the industry is managed. Yes there is lawsuits fighting it, but the times of these devices have been long coming as well. For to long Drivers have been expected to do to many things to make a job happen and many times it was even expected they would run ILLEGAL on the hours of service (HOS) that cannot happen anymore. Though the HOS rules can change, the electron log prevents the driver from running more than his 70 hrs in a week. The catch to them is: if a shipper and/or consignee hold a truck up loading or unloading, it will affect you as well. Please be ready to load when a truck arrives. Holding a truck up will incur detention charges after the first 2 hours and after the first 4 hours on OD shipments. But also, if you are some the places that frequently hold up trucks, do not be surprised if there is less and less trucks available in the future. Congress has also passed an anti-coercion laws, which means if shippers, carriers, agents and brokers are found contributing to drivers running illegal, there can be very hefty fines. All of this is going to slow trucks down, make roads more safe, but it is going to limit truck availability too. Shippers and consignees will have to plan better, make loading and unloading more efficient and be prepared to pay detention times and make appts if necessary in the future. If you want to save on transportation costs, DO NOT detain trucks. That log book is ticking all the time, just like the meter in the taxi cab !!! ELD rule officially starts Dec 2017, but more than 50% of the trucks on the road today already have ELD’s installed in the trucks and these device will be one of the deciding factors in how rates get set in the future as well.


Have a safe and productive Day


CR DANSTAR TRANSPORTATION, LLC Indpendent Agents for Landstar Ranger & Landstar Express America

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