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Common Trailer Types in the Trucking Industry: Step Deck Trailer

Truck Driver Academy / Blog  / Common Trailer Types in the Trucking Industry: Step Deck Trailer

Common Trailer Types in the Trucking Industry: Step Deck Trailer

In the vast and ever-evolving world of trucking and transportation, the type of trailer you select plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safe and efficient transport of goods. Among the array of trailer types available, the step deck trailer stands out as a versatile and practical choice for handling a wide range of cargo. If you’re thinking to yourself, “What is a step deck trailer?”, then read on to find an overview of the step deck trailer, its dimensions, advantages, and its comparative edge over flatbed trailers.

Understanding the Step Deck Trailer

A step deck trailer, often referred to as a drop deck trailer, is a specialized flatbed trailer that features two distinct deck levels. The distinguishing feature of this trailer is the front deck, which is positioned at a lower height than the rear deck, creating a noticeable “step” or drop between the two sections. This design allows for the accommodation of taller cargo loads while preserving the fundamental benefits of a flatbed trailer.

Step Deck Trailer Dimensions

Step deck trailers come in various sizes, but standardized dimensions typically include:

  • Overall Length: Approximately 48 to 53 feet.
  • Front Deck Length: Approximately 11 to 12 feet.
  • Rear Deck Length: Approximately 37 to 41 feet.
  • Width: Usually 8.5 feet.

It’s essential to note that specific trailer models and manufacturers may present slight variations in these dimensions. Nevertheless, the defining characteristic of a step deck trailer remains its dual-level deck.

Advantages of Step Deck Trailers

  • Height Clearance: Step deck trailers excel in the transportation of taller cargo that may pose clearance issues on a standard flatbed. The lower front deck provides additional vertical clearance, rendering them ideal for items such as machinery, equipment, and oversized loads.
  • Enhanced Safety: The step deck design significantly contributes to safety by reducing the risk of cargo coming into contact with overhead obstacles, such as bridges and power lines. This distinctive feature makes step deck trailers a safer choice for the transportation of high-profile loads.
  • Versatility: One of the defining attributes of step deck trailers is their versatility. They are well-suited for a broad spectrum of cargo, including construction equipment, vehicles, lumber, steel, and other irregularly shaped or high-profile loads. The trailer step deck allows for different load configurations and securement options.
  • Ease of Loading and Unloading: The lower front deck facilitates the loading and unloading of cargo, as it reduces the steepness of the incline. This feature simplifies the process of driving equipment, vehicles, or other items onto the trailer.

Step Deck vs. Flatbed

While step deck trailers offer a multitude of advantages, the choice between a step deck and a flatbed trailer should be guided by the specific nature of your cargo and transport requirements. Flatbed trailers excel in accommodating standard-sized loads and offer a continuous, flat deck. In contrast, step deck trailers shine when it comes to taller or irregularly shaped cargo, thanks to their lower front deck, which provides additional height clearance.

In summary, step deck trailers serve as invaluable assets in the trucking industry, providing a dynamic solution for the transportation of oversized or high-profile cargo. Their unique design, safety advantages, versatility, and ease of loading and unloading make them a practical choice for a wide array of transport scenarios.

Whether you’re a seasoned trucking professional or an enthusiast with a keen interest in the industry, understanding the role of step deck trailers opens doors to a broader range of cargo transportation possibilities. The versatility and adaptability of step deck trailers serve as a testament to the ever-evolving and innovative nature of the trucking industry, where the right equipment can make all the difference in delivering cargo safely and efficiently to its destination.