The term “carrier” in the trucking industry encompasses several roles and responsibilities. A carrier is an entity responsible for transporting goods from one location to another. They can be categorized broadly into three types: common carriers, contract carriers, and private carriers.

Common Carrier

A common carrier offers transportation services to the public and can carry freight for any customer. This category ensures flexibility as it doesn’t restrict its services to a particular client. Companies like FedEx and UPS are well-known examples of common carriers. They handle a variety of freight, from small packages to large shipments, and can operate across different transportation modes like trucking, rail, and air.

Contract Carrier

In contrast, a contract carrier provides transportation services to a limited number of customers under a specific contract. These contracts often include agreed-upon terms regarding routes, schedules, and rates. Contract carriers may focus on specific industries, making them specialists in handling particular goods. Such carriers often build long-term relationships with their clients, ensuring reliable and consistent service.

Private Carrier

Private carriers transport their goods using their own fleet of vehicles. Retail giants like Walmart often operate as private carriers. They have more control over their logistics, allowing them to streamline operations and reduce transportation costs. However, maintaining a private fleet requires substantial vehicles, drivers, and maintenance investment.

  • Insurance Authority: This is a carrier’s legal right to operate commercially. To get this authority, carriers must file proof of insurance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
  • Carrier Pay: This is the amount paid to the carrier for transporting goods. The difference between what the customer pays and what the carrier gets constitutes the broker’s profit.
  • Deadhead: A term describing when a truck is operating without cargo. Minimizing deadhead miles is crucial for efficiency and profitability.
  • Chassis Weight: This refers to the empty weight of a vehicle, which is essential for calculating cargo capacity and ensuring compliance with weight regulations.
  • Container Chassis: A trailer designed specifically to carry shipping containers. Containers can be transported by multiple modes, making them versatile for international logistics.

Claims: When goods are damaged or lost during transport, a claim for compensation can be filed. Shippers can make these claims to carriers or carriers to their insurance companies.