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Drop and Hook Versus Live Load

Posted in Blog, News  
Monday, August 10, 2020


If you are thinking about truck driving for a career, we have some information that might interest you.

What is the difference between live load and drop-and-hook? Which is easier and results in better earnings for a truck driver? What does NTB offer for its drivers?


Drop-and-hook trailers are scheduled to be loaded prior to the driver arriving for pick up, which results in less time spent waiting as the driver doesn't need to wait for his trailer to be loaded or unloaded. 

Some shippers or receivers require the drop to be in the same door as the trailer they are taking. This would require a double drop/hook. But while this method requires a bit more exercise of the driver, it is still faster than a live load or unload. Some companies are so expansive that the trailer being dropped and the one being picked up are at different facilities. 

While there are factors that can delay a drop and hook (trailer behind another, shipper running behind, etc.) it is the most expedient way to get a driver back on the road earning money.

Preloaded trailers also allow the driver to come in at a time that may be more convenient as there is no set dock appointment to make, relieving the stress of potentially arriving too late and being turned away.

When drop-and-hook is working properly, i.e., a loaded trailer is ready and free of obstacles for hooking to the fifth wheel, it is a very efficient and profitable way of moving freight.

Live Load 

At a live load or unload facility, the driver normally must make a specific appointment time.  Once they are to the dock they must wait for the loader or unloaders to complete their job moving the freight on or off their trailer. A rare few vendors can do this in 30-45 minutes, but many can take up to 2 or more hours. While the driver sits, his work clock still ticks off the minutes and hours of their day. This time waiting costs the driver and the company money.  While NTB does offer detention pay, it is far more profitable for everyone to keep the driver moving. 

Some Common Challenges

One challenge with drop-and-hook is learning how to line up the fifth wheel with the kingpin. This is a skill that when repeated a few times becomes natural, but it takes some practice before it becomes instinctive. For a new driver, use your mirrors, learn where the rear tires should be in relation to the width of the trailer, and GOAL – Get Out And Look. If you need some help with this one as you are getting started, keep in mind that other drivers are often willing to lend a hand and a set of eyes as you get used to this task.

Additionally, many facilities are not big enough to have multiple trailers sitting around their yard. Vendors who offer drop/hook also require a switcher or "yard dog" for moving the trailer in and out of the doors. Drop trailers are a substantial cost commitment for the trucking company as they need twice or three times the trailers at a drop and hook facility.
Especially in those smaller facilities, there are times when the loaded trailer awaiting pick up is stashed behind other trailers in the loading area. Finding people to make the trailer accessible can be a challenge and frustrating for a driver who wants to get back on the road. There isn’t much to do about this type of situation except to remain calm and kind to the workers at the dock, who are doing the best they can.

What Does NTB Do?

NTB is a 95% drop-and-hook company. We believe our drivers should have every opportunity to be on the road while they are working. Drop-and-hook is a good method for a regional company the size of NTB as it is an efficient way to move goods. We develop relationships with our shippers to ensure our drivers are in and out of their docks as quickly as possible.

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