Flatbed Trailer

Flatbed trailers are common open trailers used to ship a wide variety of products and materials. Flatbeds are the standard trailer for platform transport of all kinds. These trailers are well-equipped to carry freight of all shapes and sizes, from commodities like steel coils, pipe, and lumber to heavy machinery and equipment. No other type of trailer provides the deck space that flatbeds do. Because of this, they are often the trailer of choice for long, flat pieces of equipment. Flatbeds can be loaded from the side by forklift (fork-on/fork-off) or overhead by crane (lift-on/lift-off or LOLO).

The table below lays out the typical dimensions of a flatbed trailer, along with the limits of what it can carry. Note that not all trailers are created equal, and some may have slightly different dimensions.

A red truck with a flatbed trailer

Flatbed Trailer Dimensions

Equipment Dimensions Commodity Dimensions
Trailer Length – 48′ to 53′ Length – 53′
Trailer Width – 8’6″ Width – 8’6″
Deck Height – 5′ Height – 8’6″
Empty Weight – 32,000 lbs. Weight – 48,000 lbs.

Load Size Legal Restrictions

Understanding the legal restrictions on load size will help us pair your load with the perfect trailer for the job.

The limit on the length of a load depends on whether the load travels on U.S. highways, the Federal Interstate System, state highways, or some combination of the three. An overhang of four feet on a 48-foot trailer is allowed in some cases. However, on longer 53-foot trailers, overhangs are illegal. If your load exceeds 53 feet, properly permitted stretch trailers can ship your load.

The load maximums refer to the combination of the load and trailer. For example, the maximum height from the ground refers to the distance from the very top of the load while it sits on the trailer to the road below. Including both the trailer and the load, this height cannot exceed 13’6′′.

Loads that do not exceed these length, width, and height limits are considered legal loads. A load that exceeds these limits requires permits for the dimensions it exceeds to be legal on the road. In order to ensure greater safety, permitted oversize loads are subject to various restrictions, such as date and time of travel, route designation, marking requirements, and sometimes pilot car requirements.

These restrictions only apply to non-divisible loads. If you have a divisible load, you must break the load down before transport so it complies with the legal restrictions.