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FreightWaves Ratings unveils inaugural Top 500 for-hire list

It doesn’t take an expert to know the trucking industry tends to rely too heavily on its legacy roots. After all, for a business sector absolutely dependent on speed and efficiency, it sure has taken a while for it to arrive in the 21st century.

FreightWaves is committed to being an agent of change. With our new rankings lists and directories, we hope to add context and visibility to each segment of the industry. 

The inaugural Top 500 list of the largest U.S.-based for-hire trucking fleets — hosted on the FreightWaves Ratings site — is ranked on the basis of tractor count. We wanted to show who the biggest players are and where they’re located. 

Best of all, it’s 100% free.

Whether you’re a C-level executive, an analyst looking to track growth or a person considering applying to a trucking company near you, we know you’ll find something useful in it.

Note that the publication groups fleets that exist within varied segments of trucking. For example, it makes no distinction between flatbed and LTL carriers in this current form. Regardless, we believe this is the most comprehensive list of for-hire fleets ever assembled.

If you know the industry, you’ll see plenty of familiar names, particularly at the top. Behemoths FedEx and UPS come in at Nos. 1 and 2, with Knight-Swift and J.B. Hunt fighting it out for 3 and 4.

The list has seen a number of changes since the time we started research. For example, Central Freight Lines boasted roughly 1,400 tractors — enough to place inside the Top 70 — before FreightWaves broke the news last month of its closure after 96 years. 

A number of carriers that appear on this year’s list, including No. 12 Estes Express Lines, have offered to purchase the defunct company’s equipment and hire its drivers. Expect some movement in next year’s list depending on how that shakes out, particularly if a single company secures the bulk of CFL’s equipment.

As always, if you think you’ve found a mistake or want your company to appear on next year’s list, shoot us an email.

Otherwise, keep an eye out for our upcoming 2022 Driver Pay Guide, which will shine a fresh light on exactly how much carriers are willing to pay their drivers today. 

To see what else we’ve published recently, check out our directories on EV, AV and public freight transportation companies.

Click here for the full 2022 Top 500 largest for-hire carriers list.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes FedEx (No. 1), UPS (No. 2), J.B. Hunt (No. 4) and Estes Express Lines (No. 12).

Joe Antoshak

Joe Antoshak heads up FreightWaves' annual rankings and company directory pages as Senior Editorial Researcher. Before FreightWaves, he worked for Transport Topics as a multiplatform coordinator and editorial researcher. He lives in Washington, D.C., and can be reached at