What Are Straight/Box Trucks and How Are They Used To Ship Freight?

As a company with freight to move, there are likely several methods available for you to do so. The transportation industry is brimming with service offerings developed to cover the wide variety of shipping needs that exist from one business to another. 

Whether you need the full capacity of a 53-foot flatbed, have a partial load of palletized cargo or require a hot shot driver’s services (of which there’s a rapidly-growing pool), finding a solution for your company’s next move, although doable, can be overwhelming.  

Transporting freight inside of a straight truck, also called a “box truck”, is yet another option available to shippers around the globe. But will utilizing this transportation service fit your needs better than others? It's time you found out.

Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), our logistics division utilizes straight truck capacities every day. In doing so, we’re able to help companies across North America meet their deadlines, maintain their budgets and come through for their customers. 

We also know that straight trucks aren’t the only options out there and that without all of the information, you’ll find it difficult to make the best decisions for your freight. 

In this article, you’ll find a comprehensive overview of what straight trucks are (including their dimensional capabilities), what kind of businesses typically use them and the pros and cons of sending freight inside of these trailers. 

At its conclusion, you’ll walk away with the knowledge and resources necessary to make the soundest choice possible for your next freight move. 


What Is a Straight Truck?

A straight truck, also commonly referred to as a “box truck” or “cube truck”, is a commercial motor vehicle in which each axle — from the tip of the cab to the rear of the trailer — is connected by a single frame. Found in various lengths, straight trucks are characterized by the separate, box-like compartment into which cargo is loaded. 

Recently, straight trucks have become a foundational piece of supply chains across industries, helping companies move their cargo in a time and cost-efficient manner. 

For the most part, fully-loaded straight trucks don't exceed 26,000-pound gross combined vehicle weight thresholds allowing them to be operated by drivers that don’t possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and making them a viable transportation solution for many companies. 

What Are The Dimensions of Straight/Box Trucks?

Straight trucks come in a variety of sizes. Transportation companies — that use them to move freight — typically own and offer them in lengths of 22, 24 and 26 feet. 

Internally, the majority of box trucks measure 96 inches wide by 96 inches tall and can haul a maximum of 8,000 pounds in cargo weight. 

Since different providers choose the size of their box trucks based on the type of loads/ways they’ll use them, it’s important that you consult your transportation company for details on your specific situation. 

What Type of Freight Are Straight Trucks Best Suited To Haul?

The great thing about box trucks — a term used interchangeably with “straight trucks” — is that they essentially function as smaller dry van trailers. With similar internal dimensions (with the exception of their total length) box trucks are capable of moving partial and less-than-truckload quantities of traditional dry van cargos

As such, box trucks are used to transport non-perishable and dry goods including, retail and consumer products, electronics, machine parts and palletized freight — to name a few.   

Note, straight trucks can only be used on cargo that is capable of being loaded from the back via forklift, pallet jack or hand. Although some of these trucks come equipped with lift gates, you’ll want to stipulate this requirement up front so that your provider can accommodate this need and work it into your pricing. 


What Are the Advantages of Using a Straight Truck For Freight Shipping?

To help you decide whether using these vehicles will fit the needs of your supply chain, let’s talk about the advantages of doing so. Although there are a laundry list of situations where utilizing box trucks makes sense, the top advantages of adding them to your transportation network are:

  1. Using straight trucks can be expeditious. 
  2. Using straight trucks can be cost-effective. 

#1: Using Straight Trucks Can Be Expeditious

As a business with commitments to meet you understand the importance of efficiency. That said, you also know how hard it is to gain efficiencies when moving less-than-truckload (LTL) quantities of freight. 

Too often, shippers see their timelines shift and deadlines falter due to the unpredictability of LTL transport services. Even though less-than-truckload services have a part to play in many supply chains, they rarely function in a timely manner.

This is where securing the dedicated services of a straight truck can really make a difference. Instead of sharing space on a large trailer — and having to wait for multiple picks and drops along your freight’s route —  straight truck transport puts your needs first. 

As a result, using this service will help you get your freight from A to B far quicker than partial-truckload (PTL) and/or less-than-truckload services will allow. 

#2: Using Straight Trucks Can Be Cost-Effective 

Comparatively speaking, in the pursuit of dedicated capacity, purchasing the use of a straight truck can often be cheaper than booking a 53-foot trailer. And for smaller loads, doing the latter simply doesn’t make sense. 

For this reason, when it makes sense and your timelines demand it, using a straight truck to move freight may be your most cost-effective option — particularly for expedited shipping purposes

What Are The Disadvantages of Using a Straight Truck For Freight Shipping?

Honestly, when your situation calls for it, there aren’t many disadvantages to utilizing a straight truck to move loads. That said, here is one thing to keep in mind when making this decision:

Straight Trucks Face Capacity Constraints

Using a straight truck is only viable for smaller quantities of freight. Due to the size of these trucks, it’s not uncommon for underinformed shippers to run into issues when the time comes to load. 

And, when the quantity of freight that needs to be hauled exceeds the internal capacity of the straight truck utilized, delays can occur. Needless to say, you’ll want to plan for this intricacy. Be sure to consult your transportation provider as to whether a box truck will fit your needs and make sure to verify all internal dimensions so you’re not caught off guard

Get Your Next LTL Shipment Right In 6 Steps

Getting the most from your next less-than-truckload freight move is about more than simply which trailer-type you utilize. Proper planning, more than anything else, will help you facilitate this process smoothly. 

Too often, though, shippers watch a shipment fail or overpay for a load before figuring out how to manage their freight’s transportation.

This is especially the case when moving less-than-truckload quantities of cargo — which come with some unique variables. To help you avoid any issues on these loads in the future, check our step-by-step guide to LTL shipping.

Upon completion, should you have any questions about this process, or how ATS can help you on your next shipment, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to help you in any way you need. 

Tags: Transportation Services, Transportation Solutions, Freight Brokerage

Janelle Kunkel

Written by Janelle Kunkel

All told Janelle has been with ATS in some form or another for over 17 years. During this time, Janelle has made an impact on Anderson Trucking Service from a multitude of positions with a wide range of responsibilities. Today, Janelle is a transportation management specialist working with ATS' LTL carrier partners. In this role, which she's held for four years, Janelle has enjoyed teaching her colleagues and partners about LTL services and the solutions they can provide.

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