Truck driving, like most jobs, has a range of skill levels, requirements, and duration periods. There is no singular trip duration available. In fact, hauls can range anywhere from a couple of hours to a few weeks, not to mention the increasing distances depending on the freight. Short-term hauls can range from a day or two, while long-term hauls last up to a few weeks. When starting as a truck driver, most drivers begin with long-distance hauls to be more profitable, gain more experience, and fulfill their idea of what a truck driver does. If you’re a more seasoned driver thinking of branching out into longer-term hauls, how can you find all the information you’ll need? How often are OTR truckers home? Read below for all you’ll need to know about over-the-road truck drivers.
What is an OTR Truck Driver?
Over-the-road truckers, or OTR truckers/long-haul truckers, typically spend more extended time hauling freight and traveling long distances. Depending on your company and situation, you may drive solo or in a team of two. Another type of truck driving is LTL, which stands for “less than load.” While OTR truck drivers pick up one haul, occasionally traveling across multiple states to deliver the freight, LTL truck drivers pick up and deliver multiple hauls daily, often with less than a full load–hence the name “less than load.”
OTR truck drivers are vital to the American economy due to the frequent types of loads that need to be hauled long-distance. OTR truckers carry fragile freight, like fresh produce grown in one state and sold in another or even from other nations they were imported from. OTR truckers also haul other imported goods from overseas besides fresh produce, like clothing, furniture, and more. However, they also transport goods from one coast to the other. After all, Californians on the west coast might enjoy some New England clams as well!
Long vs. Short Hauls
Long-term or long-distance hauls are just that–a more extended period spent on the road or a longer distance freight needs to be delivered. A long haul is typically defined as more than 250 miles from the truck’s origins, which means that even if you’re driving in the same state, it could be considered a long haul simply due to mileage. But how often are OTR truckers home? Long-haul truck driving trips also typically take on heavier loads with longer durations and distances. Think about how many consumer goods rely on other states and even other nations’ imports; a lot of goods need to be brought across the country!
Conversely, short hauls are typically less than 250 miles from a truck’s origin. So although this may seem like quite a long distance, it’s still considered a short-term haul. While long-term hauls usually include a heavier amount of freight, short-term hauls carry lighter loads. Another difference between long and short-term hauls is the time away from home. Long hauls require longer times away as you travel farther distances, but short-term hauls can require a bit of time away, too, depending on the distance. With short-term hauls, though, there’s a decreasing range, meaning you’ll never exceed 250 miles from home.
On the Road Again
The time during and between hauls varies, especially at the start of your truck driving career, as you’ll first need a certain amount of time training on and off the road, both under supervision and by yourself. Once you have your CDL, have completed your training, gained the necessary experience, and have chosen which hauls (long or short) you’d commit to, you’ll get a better sense of your schedule. On average, a long-haul trucker will be home 1 in 3 weeks. However, they usually come home every 4-6 weeks.
Although long hauls take you away from home for more extended periods, there are many positives and fun attributes to being an OTR trucker. If you’re more adventurous, being on the road can help you keep up that adventurous streak and prevent you from getting restless! When you’re on the road for longer periods, you’ll be able to do the following:
Customize Your Cab
Because you’ll be using the same cab for extended periods, even across different trips, you can customize the cab of your truck to suit you best. You can add fun decorations, cooking materials, seat cushions, bedding, and more! If you can imagine it, you can probably make it happen–even in a small space.
While some companies may assign you a partner for exceptionally long drives, you’ll most likely be alone when hauling for long periods. Being alone has advantages and disadvantages. If you’re an introvert, that can be draining! With this alone time, you’ll be able to get to know yourself better. You could meditate, listen to audiobooks, and more.
As you complete your OTR haul, you explore and see new places simultaneously. You’ll see highways lined with nature you’ve never seen before, restaurants you’ve never tried, and landmarks you’ve never gotten the chance to visit, among other things. When you have mandatory breaks or must make a quick pit stop, look for attractions that catch your eye, even if it’s a seemingly everyday thing; it could be the nation’s largest ball of twine or a combination of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Whatever the case, there are many options for you to explore and try new things.
Join TDI for the Long Haul!
Are you looking to become an OTR truck driver? Then, join TDI for your long-haul career in truck driving today.
Get your Class A CDL in our friendly, supportive CDL training program. TRAIN with experienced instructors – multiple good-paying, secure job choices with benefits available for eligible graduates. EARN $700 – $1000+ / week to start as a truck driver. Get started today by filling out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!