Small truck, big service
EZ Haul Trailers
What works – and doesn’t – for sleepers
Sleepers for interstate carriers, according to federal regulation CFR 393.76, must be at least 74-in. wide, 24-in. deep and 24-in. high, measured from the top of the mattress.
The width of the cab in most one-tons “is a few inches shorter than what the federal guidelines allow,” says Gary McGaha of M&H Logistics. “It is not legal to log sleeper berth if you’re sleeping in the cab of these pickups.”
Hours-of-service regulations apply for any commercial driver, however, so hotshotters on hauls that exhaust their driving hours find themselves shelling out cash for motel rooms to stay legal.
But hotshots with cab and chassis one-tons do have the option of saddle-mounting custom-cut sleepers on the frame for compliance, something several of the owner-operators hauling M&H Logistics freight have done. “We found them on eBay,” owner-operator Mike Marvel says of the Kenworth sleepers on his and owner-operator Ryan Baird’s trucks. “They came from an individual who was making dump trucks from sleeper trucks.”
The two took their 42-in. flattops and cut 8 inches off the bottom “just above the toolboxes,” Marvel says. The relatively simple job cost Baird $1,100.
“I’ve got a ton of room for sleeping,” Marvel says. “Motels, in this business, get to be high dollar after a while.”
“These smaller trucks put off less pollution and use less fuel than full-size semi trucks doing the same type of work,” McGaha says. “In the future I expect to see commercial truck dealers like Dodge, GMC, Sterling and Ford offering these cab-and-chassis trucks with the sleepers already installed on them. These smaller, more fuel-efficient trucks could play a huge role in reducing our dependency on foreign oil.”
Owner-operator Tom Graham agrees. “If the manufacturers would design their smaller trucks to allow for the legal minimum of a DOT sleeper,” he says, “they could sell thousands of these things. They’ve just got to redesign the back sleeper area of the cab.”
Hotshot’s starting hurdles
LICENSING. A commercial driver’s license is required for any hotshotter wishing to run at more than 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (with trailer or without) or to pull a trailer of a weight more than 10,000 pounds.
AUTHORITY. There are companies to lease equipment to, such as Acme Truck Line in the oil-field niche and Bennett Truck Transport for RV hauling, but hotshots largely operate on their own authority. This is available for $300 via fmcsa.dot.gov/online-registration, where there’s also a guide to applying for appropriate registrations and insurance.
INSURANCE. Before you can obtain your authority, public liability and cargo insurance registration is required. At least $300,000 in liability is needed for vehicles under 10,000 pounds; for heavier vehicles, the range of protection you need is $750,000 to $5 million. The cargo insurance requirement varies widely, as well.