Truck drivers either love or hate Flatbed freight, mostly because of all the tarping that comes with it. A lot of drivers are drawn to Flatbeds for their higher rates compared to Dry Van and sometimes even Reefer loads.
Usually, Flatbed freight requires a few months of training if you’ve never done it before because the loads on Flatbed can be a serious danger on the road if not handled correctly.
Even though Dry Van loads can be of a much higher value, flatbed rates are always higher due to the higher skill needed to deliver them.
Flatbed freight volume across the US
When compared to the same month last year, Flatbed freight volume went down by 43%, while rates went down for all three types of trailers by around 12%.
The biggest volumes currently are in:
The lowest volumes are in:
Advantages of Flatbed freight
While the clear advantage of Flatbed is better rates when compared to Dry Van freight, it also has an advantage over Reefer freight as well.
Usually, Reefer freight and Flatbed freight rates are quite similar, but with flatbed loads, you don’t have to worry about the temperature and settings of the Reefer unit.
Flatbed freight is usually comprised of crude and heavy material, and other non-sensitive freight.
Once the load is tarped and strapped, the driver doesn’t have to worry about it too much.
One more important advantage is loads of building materials that usually need to be delivered across a lot of miles.
So at the same time, you score a lot of miles with a single load and get a better rate on average when compared to Dry Van freight.
The best lanes and rates for Flatbed freight
The best lanes for Flatbed freight this year were in and out of Midwest constantly.
Even now, at the years’ end, Midwest is still the best place for Flatbed loads.
As for the rates, the highest rates recorded for 2019 were $2.36, and the lowest $2.11 as the national averages.
Market researches and trucking industry experts say that all rates should go up in 2020, as soon as mid-January.
Giving the recent news that we should finally end the trade war with China and that we are close to a mutual deal agreement, rates have already got a small jump.
If the agreement happens by the end of the year, or at the beginning of 2020, we can expect a bigger jump in rates, as the inbound freight volume goes up from China.
Across the entire year, volumes and rates had small ups and downs, and even if they were lower on average when compared to last year, they kept a steady pace.
Hopefully, 2020 will be a year of much better rates and volumes, and all data and analysis show that they, in fact, will be.
It’s one of the most intuitive out of the bunch. Probably because you get the limited version of a premium board.
It’s very easy to use, you get to select the origin and destination, along with the equipment type, flatbed in this case, and the pickup date.
After you make your choices, it will bring up a list of available loads that match your criteria. When you click on the load that you like, it will give you all the details with the route specified on the map.
From there you can click the big blue button to call the broker, and you’re ready to go!
You will see a couple of premium board posts that are only visible if you use the premium version of Trucker Path. The great thing is that there are a lot of free loads you can take without paying a single penny!
User interface: 5/5 User experience: 5/5 Information: 5/5 Mobile Friendly: 5/5 Overall: 5
Trulos is a completely free load board for flatbed without the premium version. They rely on donations and advertisements in order to make money.
Once the website is loaded, you will have to scroll through a bunch of ads. It looks like it’s broken, and it’s very difficult to use.
It says you should select the equipment, but the option to make the selection seems to be missing.
When you select the state you want to search for loads, then it lets you choose the equipment. If you want to use Trulos on a mobile device, you won’t be able to see a good portion of information, because the website is not mobile-friendly, and the info for the load is extremely basic.
Overall it’s useful but very basic and cluttered with ads, and not enjoyable to use.
User interface: 4/5 User experience: 3/5 Information: 3/5 Mobile Friendly: 1/5 Overall: 2.75
This one looks very outdated, but it’s fairly easy to read. It’s completely free and there’s a lot of loads posted daily.
What makes it not the ideal choice is that there’s no way for you to select the type of equipment or the place of origin and destination. You can only sort the loads by date, and that’s it.
The website is not mobile-friendly, but at least you can scroll right to see all the info.
User interface: 3/5 User experience: 3/5 Information: 4/5 Mobile Friendly: 2/5 Overall: 3
Load Up is completely free but completely empty, al least it was couple of times we tried it out. It’s very easy to use, and it’s mobile-friendly as well.
As for the info, it’s hard to give it a rating or even judge it, when there’s no info to look at. It seems like not a lot of people are posting on this board.
There were couple of Dry Van loads, but none for Flatbed.
User interface: 3/5 User experience: 4/5 Information: 1/5 Mobile Friendly: 4/5 Overall: 3
Freight Finder has a couple of ads right on the top, so you will have to scroll through them. The interface is very nice, you can choose between the intrastate and OTR loads.
You can select the type of equipment and you will get all the loads available! For the best possible results, leave the date field empty. After a couple of tests, we found that this is the best solution do get all the loads you can.
Freight Finder flatbed load board is easy to use both on PC and mobile devices. As for the info, you get very basic info on the listing, but when you click on the date, it will open up all the additional info for the load along with the route on the map.
User interface: 5/5 User experience: 4/5 Information: 4/5 Mobile Friendly: 5/5 Overall: 4.5
Should you even use the free ones as your primary choice?
You could use free load boards for flatbed as your main source, but only in a few isolated cases.
You might be missing on a lot of possible loads if you rely on free load boards for flatbed that are not that populated or usable, as you saw in the reviews above.
If you’re just starting to use them and want to get familiar with them, you can use any of the ones listed, but choose wisely.
Once you decide it’s time to handle all the loads by yourself, get a premium one, it will be a good investment.
What’s the difference between free and paid versions?
Most of free load boards for flatbed have very basic and limited info. Some more, some less. Some won’t give you even that basic necessary info you need to decide should you take the load or not.
The paid versions have a lot of useful things you need to be more efficient. You get all the details about the load you need, weight stations marked on the map, parking areas, navigation, etc.
Premium flatbed load boards
Along with free load boards for flatbed and those that start free, but can be upgraded, you can take a look at some that are considered the best of premium versions.
We’ve seen some load boards that look pretty well made and that can compete with the top tier ones, so why would you pay the premium?
There’s one simple answer to that – the number of loads posted on them. Premium load boards are being used by the biggest companies and brokers because they are willing to pay the premium to get the premium experience and support.
Therefore, premium versions of load boards tend to have a lot more load posted than others in comparison.
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