Trucking is the preferred method of shipping for most goods, accounting for over 70% of all the freight transported in the United States. There is a wide variety of semi-truck trailers available, each suited for a different kind of cargo. Finding the right trailer for your job will make all the difference in facilitating the safe arrival of your shipment. In this guide, we will break down some of the most common types of trucking trailers found in America and what cargo they can haul.
Dry Van Trailers
Dry vans are the most commonly used trailer in the trucking industry. Also known as dry box trailers, they are enclosed to protect cargo from the elements and other hazards on the road. Some of the largest corporations in the US use dry vans to transport their inventories, including clothing, non-perishable food, and household goods. These goods are loaded on pallets or boxes into the back of a dry van through a loading dock. While dry vans can carry up to 45,000 pounds of freight, their boxlike shape makes them unable to transport oversized loads.
Another popular type of trailer is the standard flatbed. Flatbed trailers are generally dry van trailers without the top or sides. They are used to carry large, bulky items, like construction material, that won’t fit in a dry van. Flatbeds are extremely versatile due to their open back and sides, which makes loading and unloading easy with a forklift or overhead crane. Flatbeds also come in extendable versions to avoid overhanging freight. For both types of flatbeds, drivers must properly secure their load with chains, straps, or tarps since they are not contained.
Refrigerated trailers, or reefers, are the best option for shipping goods that need temperature control. This type of trailer is insulated and will maintain a cool temperature for chilled or frozen cargo despite the weather. Items like fruit, pharmaceuticals, and ice cream are commonly moved using reefers. Similar to a dry box, refrigerated trailers have a maximum weight capacity of around 45,000 pounds. Since they are enclosed trailers, they cannot haul anything that exceeds the length of their deck.
Other Types of Trailers
In addition to the three most common types of trucking trailers, there are others made for more specific purposes.
- Drop-Deck Trailer: These trailers are an alternative to flatbeds when the height of a load is a factor, such as with building materials and various types of machinery.
- Lowboy Trailer: A lowboy, or double drop trailer, is closer to the ground than any other type of trailer and is used for heavy hauls.
- Removable Gooseneck Trailers: A RGN trailer has a debatable front, allowing it to be dropped on the ground and used as a ramp. It is capable of carrying freight weighing up to 150,000 pounds.
Earn Your CDL Today
No matter what type of trucking trailer you wish to haul, you will need to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) first. Phoenix Truck Driving Institute has been offering high-quality CDL training for over a decade. With our accelerated program, we can get you on the road in as little as four weeks.