Long-Haul Truck Driving Guide
Long haul truck driving accounts for a massive proportion of our transportation economy. There are more than 3.5 million truckers in America, and between them, they transport over 70% of all U.S. goods.
Have you ever considered becoming a long-haul trucker? There’s a boom in demand right now due to a truck driver shortage. So if you have, there has never been a better time. Here’s a summary of everything you might want to know.
What is Long-Haul Truck Driving?
The terms long-haul truck driver and ‘Over The Road’ driver (OTR) are often used interchangeably. Whichever definition you use, driving long-haul involves transporting goods and cargo over significant distances – often over state lines and sometimes even into Canada and Mexico.
The majority of long-haul truck driving companies operate in fleets. Drivers are part of a team alongside dedicated fleet managers and dispatchers. Their routes can span thousands of miles, and it’s common to work in pairs so vehicles can stay on the road continuously.
Long-Haul vs. Short-Haul Trucking
From a technical perspective, the main difference between a long-haul truck driver and a short-haul driver is the distance they cover. The main difference from a driver’s perspective is lifestyle.
- Short-haul drivers typically stay within a 150-mile radius of their central depot. To be considered long haul trucking, distances usually start at 250 miles and up.
- Short-haul drivers make many deliveries per shift and usually return home at the end of the day, whereas long-haul drivers can travel hundreds – and sometimes thousands - of miles to complete just one delivery. They are away from home much longer, regularly sleep in their trucks, and sometimes spend several weeks living on the road.
- Short-haul drivers spend more time in urban areas navigating smaller streets and loading docks. Drivers of long-haul trucks spend more time on long open roads and highways, only occasionally dealing with tight turns or complex street layouts.
What Does a Long-Haul Trucker Do?
Drivers need to keep their vehicles clean and in good condition, and some loads require extra care – when carrying fragile, refrigerated, or hazardous goods, for example. While a long-haul truck driver’s primary responsibility is the safe and timely delivery of cargo, there are other elements to the job too:
- Securing cargo
- Loading and unloading
- Checking vehicles: driver vehicle inspection reports
- Updating hours of service using an electronic logging device
- Customer service
- On-the-spot fixes for basic maintenance
Is Long-Haul Truck Driving Right for Me?
If you’re considering becoming a long-haul trucker, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages before you commit. Here’s a list of the main factors to consider.
Several incentives make long-haul truck driving an appealing career:
- Great Pay – America’s long-haul truck drivers enjoy an average salary of just under $62,000. Plus, many employers offer additional bonuses based on experience and performance.
- Job Security – According to the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA), the driver shortage is expected to reach 160,000 drivers by 2028. With this in mind, you can be safe knowing that your job as a long-haul truck driver is needed.
Flexibility – Longer breaks between jobs mean more time for holidays and spending quality time with family.
Variety – Drivers get paid to see new cities and states, experience new adventures, and meet lots of new people.
Additional Income – Some truckers save on rent by living in their rigs, whereas others generate extra income by renting out their homes while they are away.
While the benefits are appealing, there are also a few challenges:
Life Balance – There’s no sugar-coating the fact you could be on the road for several weeks at a time, making family commitments difficult.
Compliance – Hours of Service (HOS) regulations dictate maximum driving hours, rest periods, and the number of days you can work. As a result, it’s not simply a case of driving when you want to, and sometimes you may experience inconvenient stops.
Monitoring – Most fleets use GPS fleet tracking with telematics and integrated Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) to keep their teams working efficiently. You’ll need to be okay with being monitored if you’re a long-haul trucker.
Rejected Shipments – As the point person for deliveries, drivers sometimes need to deal with unruly customers when shipments get rejected due to delays, improperly loaded cargo, or spoiled goods, etc.
How to Become a Long-Haul Trucker: Qualifications
Some companies prefer staff to have high school diplomas, but generally, the only requirements are to be over 21 with a clean driving record and a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
When you attend trucking school to complete your CDL, you’ll be mentored by experienced drivers on everything you need to know, including areas of:
- Vehicle handling
- Vehicle maintenance
- Cargo handling
- HOS and record-keeping
Once you’re done, you can start applying for long-haul trucking jobs!
How Lytx Helps Long-Haul Trucking Companies
Lytx offers a range of fleet management software to help manage fuel consumption, servicing, and scheduled maintenance. GPS tracking ensures optimum routing, and compliance solutions make it easier to manage HOS. Automated reporting and notifications keep drivers in the loop, so they can relax and just focus on driving.
Contact us to learn more about our fleet management solutions for long-haul truck driving.