OTR truckers power the U.S. economy but who are they and what do they do?
According to some sources, in the U.S. market, there are around 2 million active truck drivers.
Many of them are over-the-road truck drivers.
OTR truck drivers play a key role in maintaining the American economy because they haul, almost, any product arrived into our country or produced in our country that needs to be transported throughout the entire country.
OTR truck driver jobs provide the chance to visit America’s cities or see the nation's deserts, oceans, mountains, plains, and everything in between.
Over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers enjoy the freedom and adventure of life on the open road while taking in the beautiful sights, and earning excellent pay while doing so.
Below, find out what over-the-road truck drivers are.
What is an OTR truck driver?
The OTR abbreviation stands for over-the-road truck driving and it is a synonym for “long-haul trucker”.
An OTR truck driver is a professional driver who holds a CDL and operates large commercial trucks such as tractor-trailers for the transportation of goods.
Usually, they transport freight over hundreds or even thousands of miles, often crossing state lines or traveling coast-to-coast.
While fulfilling the needs of different businesses across the country, an over-the-road trucker spends 3-4 weeks on the road at a time. During this working time period, an OTR truck driver sleeps in the truck’s sleeper cabin, or at hotels and motels along the way.
Because of that, OTR truck drivers work in teams of two. That way, they can do more miles in a shorter period and, also, it's not as lonely as it is when driving SOLO.
Also, operating as teams, allows truck drivers to comply easily with the driving regulations without sacrificing time on the road.
Differences of regional, and local truck driver compared to an OTR truck driver
Besides OTR truck driving, there are other two types of employment for those considering a truck driver career such as regional and local truck drivers, which is recommended to understand if you consider to become a truck driver.
- Regional truck driver
Regional truck drivers operate shorter distances on a specific part of the region, which falls within a 1,000-mile radius.
In terms of regional truck driver pay, they fall somewhere in between local and OTR truck drivers.
However, the tradeoff is worth it for many drivers, as they can spend more time at home with their families compared to OTR drivers.
Plus, time off for many regional routes coincides with the weekends.
For example, a regional driver might only pick up and deliver loads in the Northeast or the Midwest.
- Local truck driver
Local drivers usually stay close to home and they are mostly home by the end of the day working shift.
Due to shorter deliveries, local drivers are usually paid by the hour, which, in total, means receiving lower pay than OTR and regional drivers.
This is an excellent option for those truck drivers with families.
Key aspects of the OTR truck driver job include:
1. Long-distance travel:
OTR drivers are often away from home for weeks or even months.
An OTR truck driving job requires overnight stays considering the fact that pickups or deliveries may happen during the night.
2. Transporting varied cargo types:
OTR drivers transport a wide range of cargo, including consumer goods, industrial equipment, raw materials, vehicles, consumer goods, heavy machinery, construction, manufacturing materials, food, etc.
Some OTR truckers even transport hazardous materials or dry bulk goods in tankers.
Essentially, an over-the-road driver can handle anything that needs to be transported by land.
3. Safety and compliance:
To ensure that OTR drivers are well-rested and alert while on the road, they must adhere to strict safety regulations such as hours-of-service rules.
4. Vehicle maintenance:
OTR truck drivers are responsible for inspecting and maintaining their trucks to ensure they are in safe working condition.
OTR drivers must be skilled at route planning and navigation, as they often encounter different road conditions, traffic, and weather during their journeys.
6. Electronic logging:
OTR drivers must use electronic logging devices (ELDs). They must know and understand how operate an ELD to track their driving hours and maintain compliance with regulations.
Do OTR drivers make more than local drivers?
OTR truck driving typically pays more than regional or local truck driving. See how to make money as a truck driver.
Often, they are paid per mile, which means that the more miles they drive, the more money they make.
But why OTR trucking is paid a higher salary?
There are several reasons why OTR truck drivers are paid higher rates:
- Long-haul driving is considered the most complicated, dangerous, and skill-demanding activity.
- An OTR truck driver needs to understand the basics of logistics. Also, he needs to be prepared for any possible situation. Moreover, they should be able to assess, troubleshoot, and at times, repair the truck, in case, that something happens on the road far from a service station.
- OTR truck drivers spend the most time on the road away from home. They can be on the road for weeks or even months.
Due to these difficulties, the highly professional OTR truckers are paid better.