Common carrier vs contract carrier are two expressions that refer to different methods of conveying goods to various destinations. Depending on the goods you are moving, you can choose either a common or a contract carrier. However, before making your choice, it is vital to look at both options and understand the one that is just right for you.

Understanding a common carrier
A common carrier is simply a business enterprise that transports goods and people from one location to another. Trucking firms, shipping firms, bus lines, airlines and rail services fall under the common carrier category.

Features of common carriers
The relevant regulatory body usually regulates common carriers. In addition, these firms are legally bound to carry passengers and goods as long as the fee has been paid and there is space. Common carriers that refuse to carry people or goods unjustifiably may be sued for damages.

Service characteristics of common carriers
This article is looking at common carriers from the perspective of the trucking industry. Below are some of the service characteristics of common carriers with emphasis on the trucking sector.

Highway carriers provide great accessibility. Pickups and trucks give excellent delivery service and the best part is that they can serve long distance and short distance customers.

Flexibility and fast delivery
Trucks have a definite advantage over rail and barge because they can be loaded faster than these options. In addition, the large number of truck lanes and highways means that trucks can deliver goods efficiently with minimum delay.

Trucking is a relatively safe method of transporting goods. The regulatory agencies insist on speed control, weight limitations, working hours and vehicle safety inspections. This results in less damage to the cargo and this saves the customer a lot of money.

Types of vehicles
Some of the vehicles used in the trucking business are the dry van, open top and tank trailer. Others are the refrigerated truck, flatbed and high cube. In some cases, special vehicles are designed to accommodate unique cargoes like heavy machinery, automobiles and gases.

Understanding contract carriers
A contract carrier is simply a trucking or shipping company that serves specific customers. Contract carriers do not carry freight for the public. They only work for organizations or firms that are contracted to them. A contract carrier could be a single person with a delivery van or a large multinational company with a fleet of trucks, ships or aircraft. Like common carriers, contract carriers are strictly regulated and must obey the rules that govern their operations.

Why you need contract carriers
Contract carriers offer specialized services so you need them if you require specialists to deliver certain goods. For instance, you need a contract carrier if your firm delivers gases that are under pressure. In this case, the contract carrier is expected to have experts in the oil and gas industry to handle and deliver these gases. Again, you need contract carriers for medical transport. Transporting blood, organs for transplant and sensitive medications requires expertise and logistics. You cannot entrust sensitive products of this nature to common carriers so it makes sense to get contract carriers to do the job.

Factors to consider before choosing a contract carrier
Before choosing a contract carrier, you need to be sure that the carrier has the equipment needed for the job. You should also consider the cost and the professional effort involved in this special service.

Common carrier vs contract carrier
The common carrier and the contract carrier serve different purposes. The one you choose depends on the goods you are moving and the destination of these goods. Carry out elaborate research and opt for the carrier that is perfect for your needs.