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What Is a Street Turn in Freight?

February 9, 2023 Kevin Baxter

Container Truck Highway

A street turn is a fairly common freight term, but what does it mean? For the uninitiated, a first guess may be that it has to do with steering wheels and trucks, i.e. street = road + turn = left, right or around. While it does involve the road, in actuality, the term has more to do with a container's movement than the act of driving. Simply put, a street turn refers to a carrier using a container for a new load immediately following the end of its prior trip (often a delivery) - without returning it to the terminal or port or container yard. In other words, the container stays on the "street," while it is repositioned. Street turns are primarily associated with drayage and may involve intermodal or ocean containers. While one driver can perform a street turn using the same container, the container often transfers to another driver - and always involves a different shipper. And while street turn is a singular term, there is no reason why a container cannot undertake multiple (even many) street turns before finding its way back to a terminal. In fact, it could  Because there is no return to origin, logistical coordination is vital to find a logical match. After all, a street turn makes little sense if the transfer is being made 300 miles away, when a terminal is 100 miles closer. Plus, the appointment times of the delivery and pickup should match fairly closely as well to keep the whole process moving. This logistical coordination as well as communication is also a necessity to ensure the street turn goes smoothly and all procedures are being followed (and to avoid potential detention/demurrage charges). 

What are the benefits of street turns?

The benefits of street turns are both practical and environmental in nature. They include:

  • Time and cost savings - potentially for all parties 
  • Decrease in driving miles - reducing wear and tear as well as emissions
  • Allow drivers to pick up more loads faster
  • Reduced congestion at ports and terminals as fewer trucks line up with empty containers

Street turns can even become more beneficial as the process is streamlined with the use of technology. At this time, manual legwork and paperwork still factor into the street turn process for many, but a number of transportation management system (TMS) solutions are working on adding street turns to their portfolios. And some carriers have already automated these processes on their own with proprietary applications. 

Interested in incorporating street turns into your freight strategy but not sure where to start? Simply request a quote with us here at InTek, and we can put our expertise to work for you. For more information about us, or logistics and supply chain issues in general, check out our Resources page.

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