Over-the-road trucking: What is it and should you do it?

There are many different types of trucking services, all of which play an important role in the global supply chain. If you’re searching for trucking jobs, one term you might see frequently is over-the-road, or OTR trucking, which refers to ultra long-haul trucking jobs that cross state lines. Let’s take a closer look at what OTR trucking is to help you decide whether it’s the right fit for you.

What is over-the-road trucking?

Over-the-road trucking is the process of transporting freight across very long distances by road. OTR trucking routes usually cover hundreds or even thousands of miles and typically cross state lines. Some OTR shipments even cross international borders. 

OTR truckers are consistently in high demand and often command high rates from their clients due to the demanding nature of the job. Companies rely heavily on OTR shipping to transport a variety of different types of goods, ranging from industrial materials to consumer products. 

Drivers who take on OTR shipments will often be on the road for several weeks or even a month at a time. They need to be adaptable and handle the requirements of many different types of shipments. Some OTR drivers work in pairs, splitting the driving into shifts. Not only does this make OTR driving safer and less stressful, but it also allows drivers to complete routes more efficiently. 

OTR Trucking vs. Regional vs. Local

When choosing a career as a truck driver, you’ll need to decide what type of trucking you want to do. OTR trucking is a popular choice among both new and experienced drivers because of the relatively high compensation offered. 

Regional truck drivers cover shorter routes than OTR truck drivers. A regional truck driver might be away from home for a few days at a time, but they’ll still get regular days off, which allows for more work-life balance. As the name implies, regional truck drivers will focus on a specific region of the country, such as the northeast or the midwest. 

Local truck drivers complete short shipping routes within a specific city or metro area. Shipments take less than a day to complete, and drivers will often pick up more than one shipment in a day. Local driving pays much less than regional or OTR driving, but it does provide a more consistent work schedule as you’ll get to come home every night between shifts. 

Pros of OTR trucking

Before you commit to OTR trucking, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of this type of driving. The advantages of OTR trucking include: 

Relatively good pay: When compared to other types of truck driving, OTR trucking tends to offer higher rates. This financial security alone is a huge draw for many drivers.  

High demand: OTR trucking is a very important part of the supply chain, and there is consistently high demand for drivers willing to work these long hours. 

Set your own schedule: In most cases, OTR drivers have the opportunity to pick and choose which jobs they want to work, which gives you more independence in terms of your career. 

Explore new places: OTR trucking gives you the opportunity to drive to places you might never have seen otherwise. 

Cons of OTR trucking

Of course, there are some downsides of working OTR trucking jobs as well. These include: 

Extensive time away from home: OTR trucking requires you to be away from home for several weeks at a time. While some people don’t mind being on the road, others struggle to be away from family and friends for so long. 

Driving in bad weather: Because you’ll be on the road so often, the chances that you’ll be driving in bad weather is high. Additionally, highway infrastructure in many parts of the US isn’t in good condition, which can also make driving challenging. 

Strict scheduling requirements: OTR drivers have to adhere to strict scheduling laws and requirements, which can make things difficult. You’ll need to use an electronic logging device to track your hours, and failing to take breaks or adhere to requirements could result in fines. 

Physical stress: Sitting behind the wheel for so many hours a day will put extra stress on your body. Many career OTR drivers experience health complications from working a sedentary job. 

Job requirements for OTR trucking

To get started as an OTR trucker, you’ll need to get your commercial driver’s license. This will require you to take a written test as well as a driving test. If you’re going to be transporting any hazardous materials in your work, you’ll also need to get an additional HAZMAT certification. 

Commercial driver’s licenses are divided into class A, B, and C, which correspond to vehicles of different weights. You’ll need to make sure to get the license that corresponds with the type of truck you’ll be driving. 

Final thoughts

OTR trucking offers many advantages for those who thrive on long road trips and many truckers find successful long-term careers as OTR drivers. If you feel ready to streamline your trucking business and take efficiency to a new level, check out Rose Rocket, the #1 rated TMS. 

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