Common Trailers Used in the Trucking Industry

There are numerous ways to transport goods. In the United States, many companies rely on the trucking industry to help haul loads and get products to consumers. Almost anyone can rely on a semi-truck for their transportation needs and to accommodate the different freight trucks use trailers to haul the load. If you’re looking for a career as truck driver it’s important to know and understand the different trailers and what they are responsible for carrying. We’ve identified some of the most common trailers used in the trucking industry.

Types of Truck Driving Trailers

Flatbed Trailer

A flatbed trailer is defined by its flat bottom and exposed top. It’s used regularly because it’s versatile and easy to load an unload. There is a lot of space giving room for larger equipment and freight is usually tied down with tarps and chains. Ideally, if there are objects that need to be transported that are oddly shaped, the flatbed will be the trailer of choice.

  • Maximum weight limit – 48,000 pounds
  • Maximum length – Between 48 feet  and 53 feet
  • Maximum width – 8.5 feet
  • Maximum height (from bed) – 8.5 feet

Extended Flatbed Trailer

When you have a load that exceeds the length limitations of the flatbed, shipments can take place using the extended flatbed. They are constructed with the purpose of supporting long loads to make sure nothing is dangling off the end.

  • Maximum weight limit – 43,000 pounds
  • Maximum length – 80 feet
  • Maximum width – 8.5 feet
  • Maximum height (from bed) – 8.5 feet

Lowboy Trailers

Where the flatbed would fail regarding height and weight capacity, the lowboy trailer would come to the rescue. Heavy equipment that would surpass the legal weight and height requirements can fit on the lowboy. These trucking trailers are the workhorses and are called upon often to move large inventory. Driving these would require extra permits and comply with various state or municipal regulations.

  • Maximum weight limit – 80,000 pounds
  • Well length – 29.6 feet
  • Maximum height – 18 – 25 inches
  • Maximum width – 8.5 feet

Step Deck Trailer

Another variation of the flatbed, the step deck trailer is used when the freight almost fits the legal requirements of the flatbed but could use a little extra space for height. So, if lowboy trailers are needed for extra length, the step deck will help to accommodate almost an additional two feet of height.

  • Maximum weight limit – 48,000 pounds
  • Maximum length – Between 48 feet  and 53 feet
  • Maximum width – 8.5 feet
  • Maximum height (from bed) – 10 feet

Removable Gooseneck Trailer (RNG)

When a load is both tall and heavy, the detachable gooseneck trailer can make up the difference. Because of their height and weight load, they can require additional permits and can have up to 20 axles attached to the trailer. The more axles, the more the RNG can carry.

  • Maximum weight limit – 150,000 pounds
  • Maximum length – 29 feet
  • Maximum width – 8.5 feet
  • Maximum height (from bed) – 11.6 feet

Refrigerated Trailer

Refrigeration truck trailers are commonly known in the industry as reefers. Their primary purpose is to transport goods that require specific temperatures to keep from spoiling. They are often used for dairy, meats, and fresh produce, but they are also utilized for electronic equipment, medicines, and cosmetics. Of the trailers found on this list, it’s one of the newest. It was patented in 1947 and before that produce could only travel 50 miles from the farm.

  • Maximum weight limit – 42,000 pounds
  • Maximum height – 8 feet
  • Maximum width – 8.2 feet

Specialty Trailer

A specialty trailer refers to a container that has been developed or created to carry a particular product. They transport things like hazardous materials or liquids. The amount of weight they can move varies. If they are designed to transport dangerous materials, special permits will be required.

  • Maximum weight limit – 200,000 pounds
  • Maximum height – Depends on need
  • Maximum width – 8.5 feet

Sidekit Trailers

When loads are comprised of gravel, dirt, or other loose materials that don’t require packing you will haul it in a sidekit trailer. They look strikingly similar to the flatbed trailer but will have siding on the bed made from wood.

  • Maximum weight limit – 45,000 pounds
  • Maximum height – 8.6 feet
  • Maximum width – 8.2 feet

The Most Popular Trailer Used in Truck Driving

Dry Vans

With so many variations of flatbed trailers, it’s possible to assume that they are the most common. But, one of the most widely used and recognized is the dry van. These trailers hook up to the back of semi-trucks and transport goods or products such as:

  • Non-perishable foods or beverages
  • Clothing/textiles
  • House furniture
  • Small machinery
  • Raw materials
  • Building products
  • Electronics

The name dry van is used because they are known to protect the contents from the weather. Working with dry vans is versatile and the preferred method by most companies or manufacturers to move their goods.

Beacon Transport is a truckload carrier company that specializes in hauling non-hazardous dry freight throughout the Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest. We use state-of-the-art technology to track shipment and perform regular vehicle inspections to ensure the safety of our truck drivers. At Beacon, we are committed to providing our customers with superior service, and that starts with hiring the most experienced drivers. Give us a call at  615-471-5700 learn how to become a truck driver.


Beacon Transport is a truckload carrier company based in Nashville, TN that specializes in hauling non-hazardous dry freight throughout the Southeast, Midwest and Southwest.