Flatbed trailers have the freedom to transport a variety of products that either don’t require the protection of a walled trailer or that have heights and widths that don’t fit within a transport trailer. However, with that said, there are times when even a traditional flatbed trailer will not work for what needs to be transported. In these instances, a step deck trailer may be a viable alternative to the regular flatbeds. But what is a step deck trailer, and when should it be used? Here is what you need to know about a step deck trailer.
As the name suggests, a step deck trailer is a flatbed trailer with a “step.” The portion of the trailer that hitches up to the semi-truck is a traditional height, and then there is a step-down to a lower, longer trailer bed. The lower portion of the step deck trailer is where most of the shipment material is housed during transport.
A step deck trailer does go by other names, including a lowboy trailer and a drop deck trailer, depending on the shipping company.
There are maximum shipment heights allowed for goods to be transported on a highway. Shipments exceeding these heights will require special permits, which can slow down the transportation time and increase the cost of the shipment.
Every state has a different cargo size law in effect, which means if you’re shipping something that will cross state lines, you will need to know what these cargo requirements are for every state. Ideally, it is best to avoid the hassle of requesting shipment permits for every state. That is where the step deck trailer comes in.
The rear portion of the step deck trailer is lower to the ground than a regular flatbed. This gives your shipment extra potential height space without the need to file for permits (in general, you’re usually looking at maximum heights up to 14 feet, although the best way to know whether you need a shipment permit, even with a step-deck trailer, is to give our staff here at RJS Logistics a call. We will help you determine whether you need to file any kind of permit for the transit or not.
There is no shortage of shipments a step deck trailer can aid in. However, there are some kinds of shipments that are more common than others. Tractors and other heavy machinery used on work sites are often shipped via a step deck trailer. Machinery and other building materials are also commonly transported via the step deck trailer.
There may be the need to use what is known as a double-drop deck trailer in certain instances. This kind of trailer features the same step down from the hitch at the front of the trailer, but then there is a secondary lift at the rear that is raised on the back end of the trailer. This allows for the inclusion of an additional wheel axis (or several), which helps support any added weight for heavy, tall shipments.
It also provides for a secure shipment method as the middle portion of the double drop deck trailer is supported by not only the wheels in the rear, but the wheels in front of the central deck (also referred to as the “well,” as the decks ahead and behind the well are higher up).
A traditional step deck trailer will sit three feet, six inches off of the ground. This is in comparison to the five feet above the ground a regular flatbed usually is. This gives you an additional 18 inches of height allowance when shipping your goods.
For some states, the legal trailer height is 13 feet, six inches (or up to 14 feet, based on the state). In terms of length, the upper deck portion of the trailer is 11 feet long while the rear, lower deck portion of the trailer is 37 feet in length (there are different sizes when necessary, but for most step deck trailers, the total length is 48 feet.
As for a double drop deck, the central “well” portion of the deck is even lower than a step deck, as it is just 22 inches off of the ground. If shipping products through a state with a maximum height of 13 feet, six inches, the height of whatever you are shipping cannot exceed 11 feet, eight inches.
Of course, the best way to determine what kind of truck bed is right for you and whether you need a step-deck trailer or a double step deck trailer, give our customer service staff here at RJS Logistics a call. We’ll go over the weight and height measurements of your products. This, in turn, will help us determine what kind of shipment method is right for you. Whatever your shipping needs are, our staff is here to assist with all your shipment concerns.
Whatever you need to transport and wherever it needs to go, there is a shipping option for you. Here at RJS Logistics, we specialize in making sure your shipment is sent via the best possible method while giving you the necessary insights into where your shipment is at any moment and when it is set to arrive. Should your shipment needs require it, we have an assortment of trucks and shipping options available to you, including a step-deck trailer. Does your desired shipment require a step deck trailer, or would another truck and bed suffice? Give our customer service staff a call here at RJS Logistics and let us help connect you with the right shipment method for all of your product transit needs.