FTL Frequently Asked Questions

What is full truckload (FTL or TL)?
How does pricing work?
How far can full truckload drivers travel per day?
What FTL surcharges and assessorial charges exist?
What are the advantages of using full truckload as opposed to LTL?
What are the challenges of using FTL?
Re-Classes / Re-Weighs / Weight &Inspection (W&I)
What is reefer or refrigerated shipping?
What is flatbed and drop deck shipping?
What is rail and intermodal shipping?

What is full truckload (FTL or TL)?

Full truckloads are shipments larger than 15,000 pounds and less than 45,000 lbs. FTL shipments usually travel as the only shipment on a trailer and are delivered on the same trailer that picks them up.

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How does pricing work?

FTL prices are based upon a rate per mile with a minimum charge per load. The rate per mile is different by location and destination due to different freight concentrations across the country and the carrier's deadhead mileage from the last delivery.

For example, the average TL carrier drives about 120 empty, non-revenue producing miles to pick-up a load. This increases the rate paid per mile to a carrier because the deadhead mileage must be reflected in the costing.

TL carriers do not provide additional services like tailgating or driver unloading at no cost. These services are paid for in addition to the rate per mile charge charged by the carrier. Additionally, every time a TL carrier stops during transit, a stop-off charge is incurred in addition to any out of route miles incurred. These services should be noted on the original Bill of Lading, up front, to provide an accurate pricing estimate.

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How far can full truckload drivers travel per day?

Drivers can travel approximately 525-550 miles every 24 hours. They log 14 hours of service in each 24 hour period with a maximum of 10 driving hours per day after a 10 hour break. After 50 hours, they must take a 36 hour "reset" period. New hours of service rules have been passed but do not go into effect until July 2013. There is also speculation that these new rules could change.

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What FTL surcharges and assessorial charges exist?

  • Driver Loading or Unloading
    Truckload drivers are only paid to drive. Loading and unloading is the responsibility of the shipper and consignee. If a driver is asked to assist in loading and unloading, there will be an additional charge. The driver may even refuse.
  • Stop Off Charge
    Any additional stops for partial loading or unloading (also known as a "milk run") will result in an additional charge, typically $50 or $100 per stop. The cost for the extra mileage may also be added.
  • Minimum Charge
    There is a minimum charge for a truckload regardless of distance or weight.
  • Truck Not Used
    If a load is cancelled once a truck has been dispatched, a standard charge is applicable that may include the cost for mileage from the point of dispatch to the pick-up point.
  • Detention Fee
    Two hours of free time for loading and unloading are allowed. The customer will be charged for any additional time needed.
  • HazMat Fee
    Not all truckload carriers can handle hazardous materials. There is a small fee charged by those that do.
  • Layover Charges
    If a delivery is not able to be made during the time listed on the original tender and the driver is required to stay overnight or over a weekend, a charge may be assessed for the daily loss in revenue.
  • Team Service
    While truckload carriers do not offer "expedited" services, they do offer team drivers. This service cuts the transit time in half due since the hourly limit allows the 2 drivers to drive up to 20 hours each day (or around 1000 miles).

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What are the advantages of using full truckload as opposed to LTL?

FTL transit times are typically faster than LTL because there are no stops at terminals along the route. FTL costs are lower because the price per pound drops significantly. This is an economic concept known as the freight curve. There is also a greater propensity for claims in LTL than truckload because there is more handling involved.

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What are the challenges of using FTL?

The most significant disadvantages of FTL are the lack of equipment and cost fluctuations. Industry changes over the past few years have resulted in too few trucks being available to handle the number of truckload shipments. As the economy improves, many companies are producing more goods to ship, but FTL carriers have not been able to recoup the drivers and equipment they lost in the economic downturn.

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Re-Classes / Re-Weighs / Weight &Inspection (W&I)

All freight carriers determine their shipping charges based on the total shipment weight (including the packaging materials, i.e. boxes, pallets, etc.) and the freight class /NMFC of the items being shipped, as determined by the NMFTA (National Motor Freight Traffic Association). If you select the wrong freight class and/or weight when quoting and schedule your shipment based upon incorrect information, you will have been quoted incorrectly. This will result in a change in shipping charge that you are responsible for paying.

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What is reefer or refrigerated shipping?

Refrigerated shipping, also known as “reefer” shipping, is used to keep perishable goods in a temperature controlled environment while being shipped. While most trucks are set to a single temperature, these temperatures can vary from frozen to simply cold transport. This shipping service is used for both truckload and LTL shipping and follows the similar process and restrictions as the related mode.

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What is flatbed and drop deck shipping?

Refrigerated shipping, also known as “reefer” shipping, is used to keep perishable goods in a temperature controlled environment while being shipped. While most trucks are set to a single temperature, these temperatures can vary from frozen to simply cold transport. This shipping service is used for both truckload and LTL shipping and follows the similar process and restrictions as the related mode.

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What is rail and intermodal shipping?

Intermodal shipping is the use of multiple modes of transportation to move a shipment, without handling of the freight itself when changing modes. This type of shipping normally includes the use of both standard trucks and rail, while sometimes including ships. This method of transportation can help to reduce handling, while also helping to improve security and reduce the possibility for damages. Rail, which normally requires intermodal to get the shipment to and from the rail station, is normally a lesser cost than standard trucking, but will also lead to extended transit times.

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