What Does Live Load Mean in Trucking?

A trucking career does not merely include hauling goods within states. Yes, the job entails how well-experienced you are at driving; there are still a few more things you should know.

One such example is live load scheduling. It is an advantage for some truckers while tedious for others. Either way, you have got to find out what it means to not feel at loss at the dock.

So how shall we start? Of course, it all begins with an appointment. For now, let us focus on the facts and details.

What Is Live Load?

Suppose you are the trucking driver who has been scheduled for a live load. What do you do now? It is easy – head to the designated shipping dock with an empty trailer/container.

The shippers will inform you of the expected cargo type so that you bring in the appropriate transportation. As you position the vehicle on the docking area, the shippers begin loading the items into the container or on the trailer.

This might take time, so you, the driver, might have to wait a while. Remember, there is a loading time that is free for the shippers. However, not all loading can be over within an hour. It is due to the capacity or enormity of the cargo.

So the additional hour is therefore charged. Still, you do not lose the free hour’s pay as you sit and wait either. You earn extra when every additional hour means a hefty charge to the dock.

Undoubtedly, it is a loss for the shipping industry, so a sort of competition occurs during the live load moment.

The process is the same when it is about unloading in the live load term as well.

When to Consider Live Load?

One cannot choose this method for all occasions. As a result, there are ways to understand when you should accept a live load that might be beneficial to trucking.

International Cargo

The driver must accept live load for international shipping cargo, for there is no other way to load/unload it. And the loading duration may vary depending on the item type and capacity.

Nevertheless, shipping containers often include commercial products and goods. These items do not take more than two hours to load or unload. It means the driver will not have to wait too long, and the shippers will find it profitable.

Heavy Equipment

Although not everyone chooses live load to haul heavy equipment, it is still not uncommon. It is crucial that you select an appropriate truck for the job.

In any case, not all companies own large trailers or containers. It puts them in a tight spot as they cannot choose the other method called drop and hook. We will get to that later.

For now, live load comes to the aid, waits till the loading/unloading is done, and transports the massive equipment to another part of the country/state.

You can already guess that the operation might take more than the free-of-charge loading hours.

Limited Parking

This is possible in urban areas or congested cities where parking is always limited. So the vendors hardly get the hefty loading job done at a six to twelve-hour pace.

Therefore, big cities rely on the live load system, where people often hire moving trucks. Here the loading/unloading is done efficiently. You might have to wait longer or less but, mostly the vehicle stays not more than two hours.

Disadvantages of Live Load

There are not many issues regarding live load in trucking. However, some companies or industry leaves no room for several trucks/trailers to park at the area.

The driver will have to skillfully handle the situation by carrying out a keen standby position. It will allow the vendors/shippers quickly to load or unload the cargo.

But the parking in a complicated area can be complex for a new trucking driver. The trucker will have to spend a lot of time waiting at the facility as the equipment is being loaded.

He/she will have to do the same when these are delivered to the designated area. Moreover, an already loaded truck might even have to wait longer if it is stuck behind the ongoing live load.

In short, you need patience and maybe make some friends at the dock or bring a book when it gets difficult to sit with nothing to do.

Live Load vs. Drop & Hook

There is always a different strategy about how to move the cargo from one location to the other. The methods of loading are no different either. However, the plausible option relies on the convenience of the customer and the driver.

Live Load

The main advantage of live loading is that the warehouses can maintain the space issues. Since this process is quick and efficient, it does not have to cost anything extra.

Surely, this means the driver will have to wait till the loading is complete. However, it is ideal when dealing with international shipping containers.

Live load is also effective in industries where it is difficult to park a carrier for more the four hours. It is a perfect choice for the customers moving to a different city or state.

Live Load vs. Drop & Hook

They can easily hire a team to load the furniture and other things in the trailers/containers to have them shipped or transported. It takes only a couple of hours if the customer sets everything up beforehand.

This is why live loading is a favorite option in crowded cities, with plenty of moving happening each day.

Drop & Hook

A drop & hook method is also known as pick & drop, where the driver does not have to wait. As a result, he/she can spend the time for a different trucking job in the meantime.

What happens is that the shippers take their time loading the cargo or equipment before the scheduled arrival. When the trailer arrives, the driver simply hooks the load and hauls it to the stated location.

This option is highly recommended for loading/unloading large and heavier equipment. However, there are often delays by the shippers or getting stashed by another trailer at the front.

It also causes postponement in warehouse space clearance for the newer equipment. Some industries have a one-way entrance and exit that is very tricky for the truck drivers to work with during the drop/hook technique.

However, you will not have to wait at the scene for hours like live loading.

Final Words

In the end, what does live load mean in trucking that helps the driver in the long run? It is a way to earn efficiently and maybe bond with strangers while the loading is happening.

Live load is strategic for both the trucking companies as well as the shippers. It improves the flexibility of transportation to everyone’s benefit. Plus, it is one heck of an aspect to clear space within a few hours!

We hope you have understood the concept better with our article. Good luck!


  1. http://help.movinglabor.com/reserve/live-load
  2. https://www.ntbtrk.com/news/entry/drop-and-hook-versus-live-load
  3. https://www.freightcourse.com/what-is-live-load/
  4. https://www.heavyhaulers.com/trucking/live-load-trucking.php

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