Hotshot drivers play a vital role in keeping project schedules on track by delivering equipment and goods to businesses that require materials to be delivered to job sites. A hotshot driver is a driver who transports equipment and special deliveries for clients.
Hotshot is used to describe the nature of these time-sensitive deliveries. These drivers are most often contracted laborers and drive their own commercial vehicles.
Hotshot drivers may also be company drivers and either handle loads for the business or leverage freelance opportunities outside of work. They are known to operate super-duty pickups with trailers rather than heavy-duty, class 8 semis. When started and managed properly, it can be a profitable business.
You can decide to become an owner-operator, and this entails that you own and operate a hotshot business under your own MC number— or you can lease on with another company. To become a non-CDL hot shot driver in Texas, you will need the appropriate license.
In Texas, driving without a license is a misdemeanor that can result in a fine of up to $200 for a first offense, but penalties can be quite stringent if you’re driving your truck under the influence, or if you’re cited in combination with another offense. Note that each of the 50 U.S. states honors valid non-CDL driver’s licenses from the other states.
If you are properly licensed in Texas for a hotshot truck, you can legally drive your truck in any other state, even if that state has varying licensing requirements. If you are starting non-CDL hot shot trucking in Texas, there are certain requirements you will be expected to meet.
Non-CDL Hot Shot Trucking Requirements in Texas
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Valid Driver’s License
A basic Class D driver’s license is required for hot shot drivers in Texas. This is the standard license for citizens. A non-CDL hot shot driver does not need a commercial driver’s license like a truck driver, as long as the cargo loads they haul are less than 10,000 pounds. It is important to keep a clean driving record to ensure that clients can trust you with their cargo.
US DOT Number
This is another vital requirement to consider when starting a non-CDL hot shot trucking business in Texas. A United States Department of Transportation number is a form of identification that is required for safety reports, incidents, and audits.
Have it in mind that hot shot drivers in Texas can apply for a US DOT number via the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. To obtain this number, you should expect to pay around $300.
Buying liability insurance is a critical step for hot shot drivers in Texas to take. Insurance for hotshot trucking drivers is made up of general liability insurance, professional liability insurance, loss of income coverage, self-employed workers comp insurance, drivers’ tools, equipment coverage, and legal defense coverage.
This US DOT number can help insurance providers determine the amount of coverage they need. With hot shot trucking insurance, you obtain extensive cover for your pickup and peace of mind for your business.
Driver Qualification File (DQF)
A Driver Qualification File is a record that the FMCSA requires motor carriers to keep for each operator (including owner-operators who drive commercially). The documentation contained in the DQF aids in proving that the driver is competent to operate a commercial vehicle safely.
Note that within the first 12 months of operation, new motor carriers are expected to pass a new-entrant safety audit. The DQF is one of the vital documents you will submit as part of that audit. You will also have to maintain a DQF for each driver on an ongoing basis and be prepared to provide it in case of future audits.
Most often, the DQF is expected to contain records detailing the driver’s qualifications, such as their employment application and prior employment verification, state motor vehicle records, road test certification, medical exam and certificate of examination, and an annual list of violations.
Interstate non-CDL drivers of vehicles with gross vehicle weight, gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight, or gross combination weight rating between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds will need a DQF. A DQF is also required irrespective of vehicle weight if an interstate non-CDL driver is:
- Transporting hazardous materials as defined by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act
- Transporting more than 8 people (including the driver) for compensation, or
- Transporting more than 15 people (including the driver) with no compensation.
Necessary Trucking Equipment
Hot shot drivers are known to operate pickup trucks. The appropriate truck model is determined by the sizes of loads you transport for clients. Hot shot drivers frequently tow trailers to accommodate cargo. You will have to consider not just the weight and equipment of the loads you like to haul, but also whether your vehicle can pull a trailer. Here are the types of trailers for hot shot drivers:
- Gooseneck trailer: These trailers are known to carry heavy loads and require a special hitch. They are very stable and renowned as an excellent choice for different kinds of loads.
- Bumper pull trailer: Bumper pull trailers are cheaper and short but can support up to 10,000 pounds.
- Tilt deck trailers: This type of trailer features a tilt which makes it more convenient to load and unload heavy equipment and other cargo using a hydraulic system.
- Low-boy trailer: This trailer features a variable height and can be lowered to the ground for loading and unloading cargo.
- Dovetail trailer: This type of trailer is more suitable for hauling cars and other vehicles because it accounts for wheels.