Going solo and hot-shot trucking

Published November, 21 2002

I would like to know anything you have about (less-than-truckload) hot-shot type trucking, which may involve, say, a Ford XLT diesel 3/4 ton, that could pull a two- or three-axle goose-neck. How could I get started in this? Who would be the right people to talk to, and what is the realistic potential and future of this mode of hauling? I have heard pretty-good things about it, but mostly hearsay.
— Mark A. Laws, Milwaukie, Ore.

Hot-shot work can be a good deal for the conscientious owner-operator. Rates
are good and some costs, like fuel, are lower than for most Class 8 operations. A
prospective owner-operator needs to make sure his truck is acceptable to the carrier he
chooses and to check out his contract very carefully. In this regard, hot-shot is no different than other owner-operator niches. The liabilities and responsibilities are

Hot-shotters I know are doing well. One says he is averaging $1.25 per mile to
the truck. He has plenty of work. As in most lines of work, the operator
must prove himself — become a known entity to dispatchers — before he gets the
cream. As for the future, it’s hard to say.

Two carriers prominent in this area that you might want to talk with are Hot Shot Express and Jones Motor.

A word of caution: If you are new to trucking, be advised that becoming an
owner-operator as your first experience can be quite a shock in terms of the amount of
work, time away from home, managing cash flow and other challenges. An owner-operator needs a support network at home to help with running the business.

— Tim Barton, equipment editor for Overdrive and Truckers News.

I had a truck on the side of the road for one and a half hours while a trainer was training two trainees. The truck was cited for a few things that were incorrect, and things it should have been redlined for, it wasn’t. The tickets were for $106, which to me is just a way to make money, and not enough to make it cost-effective to go to court. How can complaints be made to whatever organization has the ability to look into this?

— Todd Yaffe, Newberry, Fla.

Here’s how the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance says to handle appeals:

“It is recommended that you and your carrier first discuss the issue with a
supervisor at the agency that conducted the inspection. If resolution cannot
be reached, the CVSA has developed procedures for complaints concerning a
roadside inspection. Any complaint should be submitted in writing and
include copies of all supporting materials.”

You can reach CVSA at (301) 564-1263 or by writing:

5430 Grosvenor Lane
Suite 130
Bethesda, Md.20814

— Tim Barton, equipment editor for Overdrive and Truckers News.

My six years OTR are as a husband/wife team. It is now time to run solo, and since my partner has done all the “hard stuff,” I’m feeling nervous about going solo. I’m not inexperienced, just not completely confident. I have considered going through truck school again, hiring on as a student, or just running away crying. I love the road and just need some extra help with backing and really close maneuvers. I have a spotless MVR and don’t want to be a liability to the carrier or others on the road.

— Denise Dolan-Poag, Crump, Tenn.

Some if not all, truck schools, give refresher courses. If all you need is a little help backing, it is likely you could strike a deal with a nearby school.

The other possibility is to hire on with a carrier that has a finishing program.

On the other hand, depending on your skill level, you might find it more beneficial to go the carrier of your choice, pass the driving test and learn what you need on your own.

— Tim Barton, equipment editor for Overdrive and Truckers News.