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What is Hotshot Trucking? A Flexible Path to Hauling Success

Published on
1/17/2024
A hand on the steering wheel.

Shipping is an ever-changing industry. Currently, supply chain issues have been wreaking havoc on the shipping industry. 96% of lighter-than-load shippers experience delays. Traditional freight is more inefficient and costly than ever before.

That’s where hotshot drivers come in handy. Being a hotshot driver doesn’t mean you’re a trucking superstar (although you might be). It’s an actual term in the shipping industry, changing how some businesses choose to ship. 

This blog will discuss what hotshot means in trucking and what a hotshot load is.

What Does Hotshot Mean in Trucking?

Because trucking companies prefer their trucks to have as close to max weight as possible, getting large cargo shipped quickly requires a more streamlined approach. This situation is where hotshot truckers fit in.

Hotshot trucking is the special force of the trucking world. When a company needs something yesterday, they get a hotshot. These drivers’ jobs are typically shorter notice, lighter than load (LTL), and time-sensitive. They also generally involve a single shipper and customer, so the jobs are straightforward.

Hotshot truckers typically drive personal consumer trucks, not large semi-trucks. This difference saves gas money and makes this driving style a lower investment cost. If you want to see what trucking is about, hotshot jobs are an excellent place to start.

Different Vehicle Classifications

The truck’s size differs significantly from traditional freight and hotshot trucking. Hotshot trucks are typically smaller consumer vehicles, but can they be any car? What is a hotshot truck?

Hotshot drivers are required to drive certain vehicles. Each truck has a classification that denotes what weight it can carry. For these loads, classes 3, 4, and 5 are preferred. Here’s a quick breakdown of each.

Class 3

Weight limit 10,001 - 14,000 Lbs

  • These trucks are standard consumer vehicles that contractors typically use
  • Examples: Ram 3,500, Chevrolet Silverado 3,500, and smaller cargo vans

Class 4

Weight limit 14,001-16,000 Lbs

  • These trucks are heavier consumer vehicles
  • Examples: Ford F-450 and Chevrolet Silverado 4,500

Class 5

Weight Limit 16,001-19,500 Lbs

  • This class has both heavy consumer trucks as well as light commercial trucks
  • Example: Ford F-550, Ram 5,500, Kenworth T170, and Peterbilt 325
A Ford truck with a mountain landscape behind it.

What Makes Hotshot Trucking Different?

Freight often ships with a time frame for when it will arrive. This scenario differs significantly from hotshot trucking, which people use in SOS situations. Instead of taking the time to optimize the truckload and route, hotshots get the cargo to where it needs to be ASAP.

Hotshot drivers are not always independent, meaning they operate similarly to regular carriers with higher costs and stricter schedules. However, that’s not quite what Open Road is doing.

Open Road incentivizes people to be independent drivers who set their own schedules and operate their own trucks and trailers. After you’ve gotten set up with our team, getting jobs is as easy as tapping your phone screen.

Hotshot Trucking vs. Expedited Shipping

All this might sound the same as expedited shipping, and it basically is. However, there are some differences.

Hotshot shipping is a type of expedited shipping that occurs without any delay. These truckers don’t wait around. Typical expedited shipping happens through a trucking company and is, therefore, slower and more expensive.

Expedited shipping happens faster than usual, but hotshot trucking occurs NOW.

What Industries Use Hotshot Trucking?

Any industry can request hotshot trucking. However, the most popular would be construction.

Other jobs that hotshot truckers could receive include:

  • Farming equipment
  • Large Machining 
  • Pipes
  • Vehicles
  • Livestock

Shipping is an industry most industries rely on. There are a lot of opportunities for hotshots.

A truck hauling bales of hay

Who Can Be a Hotshot Trucker?

The short answer is anyone with a truck. Because of the smaller weight and size of freight, there are very few requirements for drivers. 

All drivers have to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to receive the Motor Carrier Authority Number. As well as required registration, drivers follow all applicable regulations.  Freight drivers must have their commercial driver’s license (CDL). However, hotshot drivers who haul less than 10,000 pounds do not need a CDL.  

Be a Hotshot with Open Road 

Driving hotshot jobs can be rewarding for those looking for independent hauling work. Not only is the barrier of entry lower than average, but some people enjoy the faster-paced workload.

Open Road offers a more flexible scheduling and personalized experience. Our app makes it easy to get started. From there, you’ll be able to see a list of available jobs and choose according to your liking.

If you’re interested in this kind of opportunity, contact us, and we can get you started on your trucking journey.

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