The trucking industry is responsible for transporting 70% of goods across the country and long-haul truck driving has become an in-demand job with many benefits.
But not just anyone can become a long haul trucker. These drivers operate heavy trucks and tractor-trailers with a minimum capacity of 26,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight, according to the CDC. The job also demands experience in driving long distances that include crossing countries like Mexico and Canada.
Given the distances covered and the responsibilities involved, drivers need to consider several things to make it a career. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering becoming a long haul truck driver.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Difference Between Long Haul and Short Haul Trucking
- 2 The other key differences in a long haul fleet service lie in the following factors:
- 3 Challenges to Long Haul Trucking
- 4 Final Thoughts
The Difference Between Long Haul and Short Haul Trucking
Short haul trucking is the opposite of long haul trucking. Short haul only covers a 150-mile radius from the truck’s origin. Unlike long-haul trucks, short-haul truckers operate smaller vehicles that pass through city roads.
They also don’t go beyond the radius specified. Short-haul drivers are also limited to making several deliveries daily. They have the time to come home each day since they only travel within their designated area.
What is long haul trucking? In short, the long haul truck driver definition means traveling thousands of miles to complete a single delivery. They drive large trucks or a long-distance lorry, stay away from home for weeks, and spend their nights sleeping in the trucks themselves. Their long-haul loads require a distance that covers highways, long open roads, and country borders.
The other key differences in a long haul fleet service lie in the following factors:
The salary of a long haul truck driver is higher than a short-haul one. How much money do long haul truckers make? The industry compensates for the longer time on the road and away from their families. Their average annual earnings are $81,314, while a short-haul truck driver only earns $66,630 a year.
Less Work/Life Balance
With so much time spent on the road, there is more work and less work-life balance if you drive long-haul trucking routes. The long freight deliveries involve more hours, irregular schedules, stress, and limited access to healthy food. Life as a truck driver on the road means they can expect not seeing family for weeks or months in a year.
According to the American Trucking Associations, the industry needed 60,800 drivers for freight services by 2018’s end. The shortage comes from more aging drivers and an increase in freight volumes. Given the high demand, those qualified to do long haul truck driving can find a job easily and are likely to keep it for longer.
A CDC national survey on long-haul truck drivers found that a combination of worker behavior, health conditions, and the work environment affected long-haul truck drivers’ health. The drivers also have higher rates of diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and heart disease. Unlike short-haul truck drivers who have time after work, long-haulers don’t have time to exercise or control their diet during trips.
If you’re wondering how to become a long haul truck driver, the basic requirements are being above 21 years old, a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and a clean driving record. To obtain a CDL, the trucking school will teach students about cargo handling, vehicle maintenance and handling, and record-keeping of their hours of service (HOS).
A long-haul trucking owner and an operator will drive an average of between 120,000 and 130,000 miles a year. This means drivers will be on highways for weeks. Rest is spent at truck stops and drivers sleep in the vehicle at night. Expect to live inside the truck for most of the year.
There are major differences in the duties between short and long-haul truckers. These differences also indicate how to transform into a long-haul company.
- Long haul drivers only make one or two stops which takes several days or weeks.
- In terms of service logging, short-haul drivers don’t need to log their HOS to receive their salaries. Since long-haul drivers spend more time on the road, their HOS logs are a requirement.
- The traffic laws long-haul drivers follow are highway-specific, while short-haul drivers pay more attention to city street rules.
- The heavier vehicles long-haul truckers operate have specific maintenance requirements to operate over long distances and carry such large loads.
- Short-haul truckers load and unload items several times a day, while long-haul truckers load and unload at least once a week.
Short-haul truck drivers spend more time outside of their trucks loading and unloading deliveries every day. Long haul truckers, on the other hand, spend longer periods driving and need to rest in between long distances. While they are prone to sleep deprivation, they are not allowed to operate it for more than 11 hours in one day. They also need to rest 10 hours in between long drives.
Challenges to Long Haul Trucking
Drivers considering a career in long haul trucking also need to consider the challenges that come with the job:
Not for people with families: You won’t be seeing your family regularly given the weeks spent on the road. Expect to sacrifice this aspect if you want to enter this in-demand industry.
HOS compliance: As explained earlier, HOS regulations are strict about the maximum driving hours and how often long-haul truckers rest. You’ll have to schedule and plan your route according to these rules.
Rejected shipments: You’ll be servicing customers expecting their shipments at a specific time or within conditions out of your control. You’ll be bearing the brunt of customer complaints about any delays or spoiled goods you delivered.
Monitoring of fleets: Artificial intelligence technology, GPS fleet tracking, and dash cameras are used to monitor fleet trucks driving long distances. Fleet managers monitor to ensure efficiency and on-time deliveries. Make sure you are okay with being tracked and checked on while working.
Expensive fuel costs: Expect to spend more on fuel costs that go above $50,000 annually. Long haul truck drivers are normally given a company credit card for them to track their expenses. But this also comes with the responsibility of planning routes that allow for more efficient driving.
Long haul management entails overlooking multiple details and ensuring efficient use of costly resources. Netradyne’s fleet safety technology helps the long-haul American trucking company properly deliver large loads in a safe, timely manner. Partner with Netradyne today and see what our dashboard and cameras can do for your long-haul fleet service.