Hot shot trucking

Hot Shot Trucking: How Does It Work?

Hot shot trucking is thought to have become a popular transportation option in the 1970s Texas oil industry πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ. It was developed as a means to deliver crucial drilling parts to and from the oilfields, using a pickup truck combined with a trailer. Since then, it has become increasingly popular among traditional, commercial trucking partners.

The way hot shot trucking works is by offering a dedicated route and vehicle to a singular customer for shipments that are smaller than those that would require a full semi-trailer across short to medium distances, although there isn’t really much of a cap on how far certain operators are willing to travel with your hot shot freight.

What Is A Hot Shot? πŸ›»

In the transportation industry the term “hot shot” has dual meanings, which can become confusing πŸ˜…. Many use it as slang when talking about an exclusive use of a cargo van or straight truck. While others use it when talking about hot shot equipment. In this case, we’re talking exclusively about hot shot trucking as a type of equipment, so let’s find out exactly what that means…

Hot shot trucking is the use of a truck, usually a pickup similar to the Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD or RAM 3500, basically, any truck that has the ability to pull a flatbed or other trailer type for extra capacity, can tow up to 16,500 lbs and have a maximum length of 40ft.

Smaller trucks than the ones mentioned aren’t always a great alternative to use as a hot shot as they are put under a lot of stress from the added weight of the trailer which can cause the vehicle to wear and tear more easily. Because of the extremely quick turnaround time of a hot shot delivery, from the point of contact when you order a hot shot to the completed delivery, it’s mainly a service used for time-sensitive loads like important parts that may be needed when there’s a production line down, to prevent failures in factories or to tow vehicles, machinery or other important equipment.

Hot Shot vs. Normal Trucking πŸ›» 🚚

A hot shot specializes in smaller urgent freight through the use of medium-duty trucks combined with a flatbed trailer, vs. the larger loads, longer transit times (unless opting for expedited/emergency which still won’t be quite as quick as a hot shot) and full semi-trucks used in normal trucking.

Equipment & Requirements For Hot Shot Trucking

For the most part becoming a hot shot trucking provider is straight forward, as long as you possess a pickup truck and trailers you can get into this business. Below are some of the basic requirements to start hot shotting…

Class D Drivers license

This is the common driving license that most citizens receive when they apply to start driving in the USA.

Commercial Drivers License (CDL)

According to the FMCSA a CDL is required when transporting loads that are heavier than 10,000 lbs.

US Dot Number

To offer a hot shot service, you must obtain a US Dot number if you operate a commercial vehicle that has a vehicle weight or combination weight with its’ loaded trailer of over 10,000 lbs and is used to haul cargo. A US Dot number is issued by the United States Department of Transportation.

Common Trailer Types Used In Hot Shot Trucking πŸ›»

Bumper Pull Trailer

These trailers are the most popular hot shot trailers on the road. This is because they’re smaller than other trailers and are limited to towing 10,000 lbs of freight, making them popular because non-CDL-certified drivers can utilize them. Due to their smaller size, they’re fast, and efficient and can be a cost-effective solution for anybody or business that requires an extremely fast turnaround on smaller volumes of freight.

Gooseneck Trailer

This type of trailer is a fantastic option for larger hot shot freight jobs. They’re considered one of the most popular trailer options among hot shot providers as they can handle corners and other road obstacles with ease and provide ample stability because of the gooseneck.

Lowboy Trailer

A lowboy trailer is used to transport taller, heavier equipment that requires extra height clearance. They’re easier to load and can transport more versatile equipment.

Dovetail Trailer

A dovetail trailer, is the most common trailer type for hot shots that are transporting light vehicles or any equipment on wheels, like tractors, forklifts, etc. This is because they have an angled back end ramp that makes it easy to load the equipment onto the trailer, as you can simply drive it onto the trailer.

Pros Of Hot Shot Trucking βœ…

Cost Effective

Hot shot pricing varies a lot between providers, as most of the time (not always) it’s a service that’s provided by independent owner-operators, who set their own price. Usually this price is set on a per mile basis, which is normally higher per mile than a normal trucking service, due to the on demand, expedited level of service. However, because of the lower operational costs due to less fuel consumption, lower overhead costs due to not having to manage an entire fleet of trucks and lower maintenance costs, it usually works as a cheaper option compared to an expedited LTL truck load.

Hot shot trucking is also in the long run especially cost effective when we’re talking critical parts and equipment. The money a business would save from preventing or reducing downtime of machinery or a production line is not even comparable to the cost of hot shotting your freight where possible!


Hot shot trucking is the fastest option of transportation. When rapid, time-sensitive deliveries are required, this is the go to option where possible (if the freight fits the requirements of a hot shot truck). The vehicles are more agile than a huge truck and trailer unit and as they’re dedicated to one customer and a singular route, they’re ready to go ASAP ⏰


Hot shots are normally required in times of emergency, because of this operators of a hot shot are used to on demand and unscheduled work making it an extremely flexible option of transportation.

Just-in-time deliveries

Hot shot trucking supports just-in-time deliveries and inventories. Because of how quickly hot shots can fulfil an order businesses no longer need to pay expensive warehousing costs or store materials and inventory in their own facilities.

Conclusion πŸ€”

Hot shot trucking provides a super fast alternative to normal trucking and has revolutionized cargo transportation by prioritizing speed and flexibility for smaller freight shipments in the most urgent cases. There isn’t really much else to say, except it’s a fantastic, cost effective solution to your smaller, time-sensitive shipments 😊

How Can PEI Help?

We know that we’re experts at hot shot deliveries and can handle yours with any special requirements. If you need any more information or want to chat to a friendly expert regarding this topic then give us a call on: Phone: 888-SHIP-911. Or alternatively use the link below. We can’t wait to hear from you!😁


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