Shipper Zone

How Does a Hot Shot Delivery Work?

January 18, 2022

Sometimes you’ll need a time-sensitive delivery that’s guaranteed to arrive on time. At such times, the conventional hauling services just aren’t going to cut it. That’s where hot shot delivery services come in to ensure timely delivery and the safe handling of the cargo.

As hot shot deliveries are time-sensitive, hot shot drivers need to be more than just expert haulers. They also have to stay focused and alert, as hot shot deliveries can turn into hot shot emergencies at any moment.

What Is Hot Shot Delivery?

Hot shot delivery (also known as hotshot trucking) is a delivery service that aims to ensure timely deliveries of time-sensitive cargo. Typically, these are LTL freights involving loads that are less than the capacity of a full truck load.

Hot shot delivery differs from expedited shipping in that truck drivers do not stay on standby waiting for the job. Instead, hot shot jobs are distributed among a fleet of hot shot drivers on a load board. This makes hot shot trucking a great option for truck owners or operators who want to earn extra on a side gig. Tow Piglet shares a great video on how to getting started in hot shot deliver.

Pros and Cons of Hotshot Trucking

Hotshot trucking is used for time-sensitive cargo, which may need to be delivered within the same day. Sometimes hot shots will deliver within hours, depending on the urgency of the transport needs. Nevertheless, this type of trucking has its drawbacks, too.


  • Lower startup and running costs

Hot shot delivery requires smaller trucks (as small as class 3 trucks). Since these are much less expensive to purchase, insure, and maintain compared to class 8 trucks, hot shots are great for truck drivers on a budget.

  • Better terms and pay

Hot shot deliveries have one common thing- they are time-sensitive, meaning they pay higher compared to regular deliveries. With a provision of even setting your own rates besides the type of loads you transport, hot shot trucking offers more attractive work terms.

  • Timely delivery

Hot shot deliveries are more like an overnight courier. This means if you have a last-minute delivery, hot shot trucking is your best bet, and it’ll take care of the process professionally.

  • It’s fun

Usually, hot shot drivers enjoy helping clients who are on a tight schedule. They enjoy every bit, knowing their services are critical to another person or business.


  • Unstable flow of jobs

Hot shot drivers are paid per mile and have no fixed salaries. This makes hot shot trucking unsuitable jobs for truck drivers seeking a stable income.

  • Requires total driver availability

Hot shot trucking requires the drivers to be 100% available for hot shots. This includes weekends, nights, and holidays, but doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be fully booked at these times. The result could cause a lot of deadheading.

  • Drivers/operators are entirely in charge of their vehicles

Hot shot trucking is like a freelancing service, where you are responsible for your equipment. Drivers handle the maintenance, fueling, insurance, and all other costs related to their trucks.

How The Hot Shot Delivery Process Works

G14 Hotshot Skid Steer

The hot shot delivery process involves the following steps.

  1. Hot shot drivers are notified of hot shot jobs via a load board, where hot shots are posted.
  2. They can accept or decline hot shot jobs within the area they’re operating in for that day.
  3. Truck drivers then go to the origin of hot shot delivery and pick up their load with a tag-along driver (if assigned).
  4. After loading up, hot shot drivers then head to their destination and unload the cargo with a tag-along driver (if assigned). Then they return back to their home base or go out looking for another hot shot job via load boards.
  5. Truck drivers are paid per hot shot delivery, and hot shot drivers are paid per mile.

There are three general aspects of hot shot delivery you need to fulfill to operate this business. You need to have the right type of trailer, while the trucker needs to meet specific requirements. Also, you need to understand the logistics of hot shot delivery.

Types of Trailers You Will Use for Hot Shot Delivery

There are four types of trailers that can be used as hot shots carriers:

Bumper pull trailer

These are the most popular hot shot trailers due to their versatility and ease of use. For instance, they are designed for smaller and lighter loads. This means they do not require the driver to have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). This license will only be required if the combined weight exceeds 4536kgs.

The most significant limitation with bumper pull trailers is that they are restricted to small and light loads. They are thus suited for a mix of commercial and civilian drivers.

Gooseneck trailers

These hot shot carriers are suitable for hauling heavier loads that bumpers pull. They are thus ideal for owner-operators who wish to commit themselves to hot shot trucking.

Drivers will also be at ease exploring unfamiliar roads because these trailers have a reasonable turning radius, in addition to their dependable performance over long stretches.

Gooseneck trailers have two significant limitations. You will need to install a specific hitching system on your truck. Also, the laws vary from state to state, and you may need training and sometimes certification to haul gooseneck trailers across some states.

Dovetail trailers

Dovetail hot shot carriers are typically used in bulk deliveries. They can haul dry and refrigerated cargo, while their gradual angle makes it easy to pull a long low-riding vehicle. They are also effortless to load.

Dovetail trailers increase the possibility of getting rear-headed due to the low-hanging tail, which drags wherever you go. They also reduce the flat space by a considerable distance.

Tilt deck trailers

Tilt hot shot carriers are almost similar to goosenecks. However, tilt deck trailers balance ease of loading heavy cargo and safety and efficiency of handling the trailer on the road.

It’s the tilting (operated hydraulically) that allows smooth loading from the ground level, thus eliminating the occupational hazard of hot shot truckers lifting heavy cargo manually.

The most significant drawback is that these trailers require more maintenance than other hot shot carriers above. For instance, the hydraulic system needs the oil to be changed. The system also has more moving parts which need lubrication and occasional replacement.

Hot Shot Delivery Trucker Requirements/Rules

Hotshot Mini ExcThere are specific requirements for hot shot drivers and the DOT regulations to be met. These are:

Weight Requirements:

  • If the combined weight exceeds 10000 pounds, the driver must have a Commercial Driving License (CDL).
  • If the combined weight exceeds 26000 pounds, the trucker must have an international fuel tax agreement, or an international registration plan, and sometimes both.

Driver Requirements:

  • If the driver is ferrying a combined weight not exceeding 10000 pounds, a CDL is not required
  • Driver must have a Motor Carrier Authority Number
  • Driver must have Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) approval
  • Driver must meet the FMCSA physical requirement for driving

DoT Regulations:

Department of Transportation’s (DoT) regulations do not apply for hot shot deliveries with under 10001 pounds combined weight.

For a combined weight exceeding 10001 pounds, the following regulations apply:

  • A driver’s logbook must be on board
  • The truck must have an onboard fire extinguisher
  • Reflectors
  • Driver must adhere to the DoT requirements for driving and resting
  • The vehicle must have a DoT license plate and load sticker

Logistics of Hot Shot Delivery

Hot shot trucking is a hot shot delivery process in which truckers deliver time-sensitive cargo using their own equipment. There are general requirements for this type of business, just like with every other sector. If you want to operate hot shot deliveries, ensure the following:

  • All the trucks (even civilian trucks) used must be registered commercially.
  • You are familiar with both the federal and state restrictions on weight. As a driver, keep in charge of your logs, especially for interstate deliveries. This is because you may need to stop and scale down the weight to haul them legally across some states. This process consumes time and should thus be accounted for.
  • New operators should understand all the legal regulations in this trade to avoid fines, which, sometimes, may mean the end of the business.
  • Drivers should know how to secure the loads safely, for the cargo’s and their own safety.

Importance of Hot Shot Delivery

If you already have a freight service, adding hot shot delivery increases your pool of options for serving your clients, as hot shot trucking is a niche market. This helps you retain your clientele and increases the number and nature of your company’s deliveries.

Having a hot shot delivery service helps you economize when a client needs a small load, which would be otherwise uneconomical to ferry with a full-length flatbed. You can also choose hot shot delivery sometimes when you want to provide your customers with a convenient and fast service.

Hot shot deliveries are faster than other modes. They also require fewer resources, and the delivery trucker is not needed to wait in line at a depot or return the hot shot delivery truck to a designated area.

Hot shot deliveries are also beneficial to small truck owners looking for a way to make some money with their vehicles. They are also an opportunity for hot shot delivery truckers who want to take advantage of their time and equipment but do not have the volumes required for trucking companies.


Hot shot deliveries are a process in which truckers deliver time-sensitive cargo using their own equipment. If you want to operate hot shot deliveries, you now know what to expect and the regulations surrounding this business. If you are still indecisive, consider the type of load you want to haul, the locations and situations you will work under, and if you wish to do the job yourself or employ someone. This way, you’ll have a clearer picture before starting out.

About VeriTread

VeriTread is your go-to solution for hot shot delivery. We can have your freight delivered to any destination in North America in a safe, timely, and efficient manner. We have everything you need to manage your own shipment or connect you with our full-service brokerage team.

Get in contact with VeriTread today. You can visit our contact form or call (800) 880-0468 or (863) 226-0903 for international calls.