What is a Straight Truck? Definition, Types, and Uses

What is a Straight Truck? Definition, Types, and Uses

Wondering what a straight truck is? A straight truck refers to a type of vehicle with a tractor-trailer in a fixed position. In other words, all the axles in a straight truck attach to a single frame. Usually, straight trucks look like do-it-yourself moving trucks and, in most cases, move housing supplies, boxes, furniture, refrigerators, dryers, or washers. 

This article looks at the different types of trucks, including box trucks, cube trucks, cube vans, dump trucks, flatbed trucks, and more. We’ll also examine cargo suitability, benefits, and other specifications.

Straight Truck Definition

A straight truck looks like a regular tractor truck. However, the distinguishing aspect of a straight truck is that the tractor cannot disconnect from its back since it’s a single frame. Most people will often use the names pickup trucks or box trucks when talking about straight trucks, which makes it confusing to understand what a straight truck is. However, it’s worth noting that “straight truck” is an umbrella term for the different types of medium-heavy trucks.

A straight truck refers to a medium-heavy vehicle with all its axles connected to a single frame.

To draw a line between a semi-truck and a straight truck, the main distinguishing factor is that a semi-truck can detach its cargo area while a straight truck can’t.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a straight truck is a single cab and body vehicle which is one-half the capacity and size of a tractor-trailer. It’s different from a tractor-trailer since the cab is a single unit with a trailer.

If you’ve seen a truck with a cargo box attached to the main frame that extends to the front, this is what a straight truck looks like. Its cargo is cuboid-shaped, a factor in the truck’s names like box truck, rolling toaster, cube van, and more. Unique features of straight trucks include:

Maximum weight of about 33,000 lbs (varies depending on the size of the truck)

  • Doesn’t have a fifth wheel
  • Cheaper to operate than a tractor-trailer
  • Can’t stop quickly with minimal issues

To operate a straight truck, a driver must hold a particular Class “B” CDL (commercial driver’s license) with a clean driving record.

Types of Straight Trucks

There are various straight truck models, depending on the industry and their intended use. While box trucks are popular, there are many other types on the road. Here’s a look at the different types of straight trucks.

Box Truck

Box trucks are a common type of straight truck. You probably know them by the names cube vans or cube trucks. The main purpose of these trucks is to move cargo. Box trucks are more compact and considered more reliable than other truck types. 

When used to move cargo, they are fuel efficient, and maintenance is affordable. Many freight forwarders, transport companies, and manufacturers use these trucks to move cargo to customers or other locations.

Besides moving cargo to different locations, box trucks offer additional benefits, as shown below.


A box truck can come in handy for running a service business since it offers free advertising. You can advertise your business on the cargo box. All you have to do is ensure your truck is visible in public spaces. You will need to find vendors that create materials to be placed on the truck, or an image can be painted directly on the truck. Your advertising should highlight what your business does.

Doesn’t Require a Pulling Trailer

A box truck doesn’t require a pulling trailer. Finding and using a pulling trailer is a challenge and often costly. It means paying more for fuel and wasting time moving goods.

Generally, driving a box truck makes shipping goods easier.

Safe Storage Unit

Box trucks also provide a safe place to store equipment and supplies. These trucks also protect goods against harsh weather conditions.

Cube Truck

As the name suggests, this is a type of straight truck with a cuboid-like cargo box. It’s slightly different from the box truck due to size. A cube truck is smaller, and the cabin is separate from the luggage area.

Cube Van

A cube van is sometimes known as a cube truck, box truck, or box van. This type of straight truck has a separate, box-like cargo compartment sitting on the frame. While the cab and the box sit on the same frame, you can’t access the cab from the box.

Therefore, a cube van includes a cab and a cargo box that are separate from each other. A cargo van, on the other hand, is different since the cab and cargo connect together. You can access the cab from the storage area for a cargo van.

Dump Truck

A dump truck, commonly known as a tipper truck or dumper truck, is normally used to carry finer material like gravel, sand, or waste for construction. Tipper trucks come in varying types and configurations. The varying types of trucks have different applications.

Common types of dump trucks include the standard dump truck, semi-trailer end dump truck, site dumpers, etc.

Heavy-Duty Pickup Truck

A heavy-duty pickup truck has a gross weight of 10,000 lbs or more. However, the definition of a heavy-duty pickup truck varies depending on who you ask. U.S. News argues that automakers and regulators often classify trucks differently, which makes it challenging to determine what constitutes a heavy-duty truck.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will only consider a truck as heavy-duty if it has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of over 26,0001 lbs. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers trucks of over 8,500 heavy-duty.

Refrigerated Trucks

Refrigerated trucks are trucks with a mounted refrigeration unit. These trucks typically move perishable goods like frozen foods, fruits, ice, dairy products, and vegetables. Refrigerated trucks also move special types of medicines and vaccines that are temperature sensitive.

Passenger Van Trucks

Straight trucks transport more than just equipment and supplies. Passenger van trucks can also transport people. They have seats with a center aisle to help riders move from one end to the other. These are commonly used in airports, seaports, and standard office settings where groups of people move to different locations.

Fire Trucks

Fire trucks are a type of straight trucks. They are also called fire engines. A fire truck’s primary purpose is firefighting; its storage compartments hold water.

Straight Truck Dimensions

The specifications of straight trucks vary depending on the type of truck. Typically, the length of any truck depends on the number of axles. Calculate the dimensions by adding the front and rear overhang to the tractor wheelbase.

Straight trucks with two axles (4-wheelers) average about 15-24 feet. They have a height of 8-10 feet with a width frame of 6-8 feet. 

On the other hand, three-axles (6-wheelers) trucks are taller and longer. They feature a maximum length of up to 60 feet, depending on the state they operate in. Similarly, these trucks have a height of 8-10 feet with a width of about 8.5 feet. However, it’s worth noting that a standard straight truck measures approximately 26 feet.

According to FHWA, straight trucks are either class 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8a. Depending on the vehicle class, they have maximum cargo weight, as shown below.

Vehicle Classifications

Vehicle ClassGVWR Category
Class 1Light Duty (Less than 10,000 lbs)
Class 2
Class 3Medium Duty (10,000 - 26,000 lbs)
Class 4
Class 5
Class 6
Class 7Heavy Duty (More than 26,0001 lbs)
Class 8

What Type of Freight Are Straight Trucks Best Suited To Transport?

Straight trucks can haul the following items:

  • General cargo
  • Retail and consumer products
  • Machine parts
  • Electronics 
  • Medicines and vaccines
  • Food items
  • Building material
  • Fuel 
  • Waste

License Requirements for Straight Trucks

A commercial driving license (CDL) is a requirement for anyone to operate a vehicle in the United States. A driver must apply for the correct endorsements on their CDL to drive specific vehicles like trucks or buses. There are three types of licenses: Class A, B, and C.

Class A CDL

A Class A CDL license allows a driver to operate vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs or more as long as the towed vehicle weighs more than 10,000 lbs. With this license, a driver can operate tank vehicles, tractor-trailers, livestock carriers, and flatbeds.

Class B CDL

A Class B CDL licenses a driver to operate any standalone vehicle that is not attached to a trailer with a GVWR greater than 26,000 lbs and detached trucks weighing less than 10,000 lbs. A driver with this classification can drive straight trucks, segmented buses, large passenger buses, box trucks, tractor-trailers, and dump trucks with small trailers. 

Class C CDL

This licenses a driver to operate a standalone vehicle with GVWR less than 26,0001 lbs or a vehicle pulling another weighing less than 10,000 lbs. With a Class C license, a driver can operate passenger vans, small HazMat vehicles, and other vehicle types not covered by Classes A or B.

Benefits of Straight Trucks

Travel Opportunities

Driving a straight truck allows you to explore new, exciting places, depending on your employer and their areas of operation. Instead of being confined to an office or manufacturing facility, you enjoy the freedom of seeing new and different places, while being paid to travel.

License Requirements

Most truck driving jobs require Class A CDL. But you can drive a straight truck without this license. Many job opportunities to drive straight trucks don’t need a Class B CDL, depending on the truck you drive.

Customer Interaction

Driving a straight truck is also an excellent opportunity to interact with customers. Whether delivering products to a store or directly to consumers at their homes, you will see new faces and interact with people every day. Whether you’re running your own business or employed, you get to interact with new faces every other day.

Employee Benefits

As a straight truck driver, you may be eligible for some employee benefits. The employee benefits you get will vary depending on the type of job and employer. Some of the benefits you could get include 401(K) and medical insurance. 

What is the Difference Between a Tractor Truck and a Straight Truck?

A tractor truck, also known as a semi-truck, is a power unit, i.e., the engine, transmission, and cab combined with a semi-trailer. In other words, it’s the tractor and trailer combined. It’s referred to as a “semi” since the trailer lacks front wheels to propel it. The tractor has an engine, and since the trailer can’t move without an engine, it’s connected to a tractor, making a tractor truck. The truck tractor is also called a big rig, 18-wheeler, semi, or semi-tractor trailer.

The main difference between a tractor truck and a straight truck is that the latter is a one-unit with one chassis, while a tractor truck has two parts. These two also differ in terms of capacity and dimensions, fifth wheel, and fuel and maintenance costs.

Straight trucks are used by many businesses and industries.  You now know what a straight truck is and how it differs from other trucks.