Over-the-road (OTR) trucking, often referred to as long-haul trucking, is a vital part of the transportation industry, delivering goods from coast to coast. It offers an opportunity to see different parts of the country, earn a good income, and take on the open road’s challenge.
2. Basic Requirements
To be eligible for OTR trucking, you need to be at least 21 years old, have a clean driving record, and pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical. It’s also important to have a high school diploma or equivalent. English language proficiency is required because drivers must be able to read and speak English to communicate effectively and understand traffic signs.
3. Types of Truck Driving
There are several types of truck driving, including OTR, regional, and local. OTR drivers often spend weeks on the road, while regional drivers typically stay within a specific region. Local drivers usually return home every night.
4. Gaining the Necessary Education and Licenses
To become a professional OTR truck driver, you’ll need to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Most drivers attend a truck driving school to prepare for the CDL exam, which includes a written test and a practical test. Some companies even offer paid CDL training or tuition reimbursement.
5. Trucking Equipment Basics
Understanding the trucking equipment is crucial. Drivers need to familiarize themselves with different types of trucks and trailers, as well as basic maintenance and repair tasks. They also need to understand how to load and secure cargo, operate electronic logging devices (ELDs), and use navigation systems.
6. Understanding the Trucking Industry
Before starting your OTR trucking career, familiarize yourself with the trucking industry, including major players, rules and regulations, industry trends, and employment opportunities. Key federal regulations include Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which limit how many hours drivers can work to ensure their safety.
7. Job Search and Application Process
There are many job opportunities for OTR drivers. Companies often advertise on job boards, in trucking magazines, and at job fairs. Networking with other drivers can also lead to job opportunities. When applying, be prepared to provide your driving history, undergo a background check, and pass a drug and alcohol test.
8. On-the-Job Tips and Best Practices
Good communication, time management, and stress management skills are important for success as an OTR driver. Understanding how to plan routes, manage fuel consumption, handle roadside inspections, and deal with inclement weather conditions is also crucial.
9. Managing Finances and Lifestyle on the Road
OTR trucking requires a unique lifestyle. Budgeting and planning for expenses on the road is important, as is maintaining a work-life balance. Some drivers find it helpful to bring comforts from home, like a favorite pillow or cooking equipment, to make the cab feel more comfortable.
10. Staying Healthy and Safe on the Road
Long hours of driving can take a toll on your health, making diet and exercise crucial. Keeping hydrated, eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and ensuring adequate sleep can help maintain your wellbeing. In terms of safety, defensive driving skills, knowledge of emergency procedures, and understanding how to secure cargo are key.
11. Future of Over-the-Road Trucking
While technology advances, such as autonomous trucks, may seem like a threat to OTR drivers, they’re more likely to assist than replace drivers in the near future. Demand for drivers remains high, and the role is evolving to include more technology and efficiency measures.
OTR trucking can be a challenging but rewarding career for those who enjoy life on the open road. By understanding the industry, gaining the necessary skills and qualifications, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can build a successful and satisfying career in OTR trucking.
Here at ATIM we are 100% OTR trucking. We offer newer trucks, and cover trailer and cargo liability. We don’t pay base on mileage, rather we pay 82% gross load. This is beneficial for strong drivers with a good work ethic, you will earn based on the actual load rather than mere miles. Our drivers average $3,000 plus a week take home pay after all expenses, like fuel, truck rent, etc. If you have Grit, and the endurance to consistently deliver loads and run for at least three weeks at a time, you can take home nearly $150K a year. If you are interested, apply now.