If you’re looking for a job in the trucking industry, now is the best time to do so. According to the American Trucking Associations, the United States is experiencing a shortage of truck drivers. This means that there are plenty of trucking companies out there looking for qualified people to complete jobs.
However, trucking is not for everyone. As with many other professions, trucking has its pros and cons. One of the reasons why drivers quit is the long time away from home. But in the past years, many have taken on short-haul trucking jobs.
Curious to know whether driving a truck is for you? How is short-haul trucking better than long haul? In this article, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of being a truck driver and why many drivers are switching to short-haul trucking.
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The Pros and Cons of Being a Truck Driver
Truck driving can be a rewarding profession whether you’re a long or short-haul driver. But like many jobs out there, it also has its drawbacks. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of being a truck driver:
- Easy Entry – Being a truck driver doesn’t require years of schooling. For those who want to get into the profession, the most important thing to have is a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Before you can get one, you need to pass different requirements first, which include a good driving record, good English comprehension, and excellent physical and mental health.
- Job Security – There is a high demand for long-haul and short-haul truck drivers in the United States. Truckers are in demand because there are tons of retail goods that need to be transported every day. Unlike in other industries, you can almost instantly get another trucking job immediately without being out of work for a long time.
- Independence – If you enjoy driving solo, long-haul driving can take you to different states in the country. If you prefer short-haul distances, you can still enjoy traveling and working solo. While there are strict rules to follow when it comes to road safety, you can work independently without the usual distractions of an office.
- One Focus – If we were to condense a truck driver’s responsibility, it would be to deliver goods on time—safely. Unlike other jobs where you would be required to do manual paperwork, truck driving allows you to focus on that one important task. Drivers nowadays have the power of technology to their advantage. With fleet safety cameras and fleet management systems, drivers don’t have to worry about keeping a detailed log of their day. Everything is recorded in the system and is ready to access anytime.
- Unhealthy Lifestyle – There’s nothing like a healthy, home-cooked meal. But when you’re on the road for the long haul, it can be difficult to keep track of what you’re eating. Oftentimes, fast food is the way to go. Additionally, there are not a lot of opportunities to stay active when you have to sit in front of the wheel for long hours.
- Days Away From Home – This is one of the reasons why many drivers are looking for short-haul trucking jobs. Being away from family can be difficult especially if you’re just starting out. However, drivers can still enjoy conversations with family and friends back home, provided they use a hands-free device while driving.
- Fatigue – Driving odd hours can take a toll on a driver’s health. Even though the Hours of Service (HOS) specifies driving windows and limits, there are times when a driver may feel fatigued while carrying a job on the road. Some drivers may want to push their limits and drive continuously for hours on end so that they can go home earlier. However, doing so may lead to fatigue, or worse, a collision.
- Boredom – Truck driving is a solitary job. When you’re on the road by yourself, the days can be very lonesome. Since your focus is on the road, there’s not much you can do to entertain yourself. Driving while texting is a serious violation that could result in disqualification.
Long-Haul vs. Short-Haul Trucking
Truck driving is a rewarding job for those who love exploring open roads. They are not tied to a desk and can earn as much as $82,605 a year. However, there’s a huge difference in the job description for long-haul and short-haul truck drivers.
A typical workday for a long-haul truck driver begins with loading the cargo and making sure that all paperwork is signed and complete. Once everything is checked, the drivers will drive for thousands of miles to deliver the cargo. As soon as they get to their destinations, the drivers will then drop off the payload and complete the paperwork for the delivery.
On the other hand, short-haul drivers have a more active workday. Drivers usually spend only a day on the road (as opposed to days or weeks with long haul) and drop off packages to multiple locations. As drivers travel only short distances, they are more involved in coordinating deliveries and loading and unloading packages.
Here’s a comparison of what long-haul and short-haul trucking involve:
|Long-Haul Trucking||Short-Haul Trucking|
|Time away from home||Drivers spend more days on the road, so they are rarely at home.||Drivers can come home every night, depending on the distance covered.|
|On-road expenses||Eating out during breaks can put a dent in a driver’s budget.||Since drivers can spend more time at home, showers and meals are not part of their daily expenses.|
|Distance||Long-haul driving covers more than 250 miles.||Short-haul trucking has a shorter route of 150 to 250 miles.|
|Truck type||Large trucks like tractor-trailers are often used in delivering goods.||Uses smaller vehicles that can enter smaller roads|
|Unloading freights||Drivers don’t have to unload frequently since deliveries cover longer distances.||Drivers spend more time unloading because of the short distance and multiple stops.|
|Truck operating expenses||Higher operating expenses (maintenance, fuel, etc.) due to long distances||Lower maintenance and fuel costs because of shorter routes|
|Risks||Hazardous weather conditions, dangerous terrains, and detours are part of the job.||Drivers navigate familiar terrain (usually in cities), so daily routes are predictable.|
How Many Miles Is Considered Short-Haul?
Short-haul trucking can be classified into two categories:
- Regional trucking entails driving anywhere between 150 and 500 miles from the terminal. It is somewhat close to “over the road” or long-haul trucking in that drivers may travel for days and cross state lines. Because of the relatively long distance, drivers sometimes stay at hotels or sleep in their truck cabins. However, regional trucking covers shorter routes compared to long-haul trucking.
- Local trucking means traveling with smaller shipments for less than100 miles from the home terminal. The shorter distance means that once you’ve completed a job, you can come home to your family more often.
With relatively shorter routes, short-haul truckers get to enjoy a better work-life balance. However, short-haul trucking rates are also lower because of the shorter routes and minimized risks. Short-haul truckers earn an average of $38,640 per year.
Short-haul trucking may be the best option for drivers who are looking to start a career in trucking. With short-haul driving, truckers can enjoy a work-life balance that is challenging to achieve when driving long-haul.
Since routes are shorter, truckers can complete multiple deliveries in one day and still have enough time to spend with their families. However, short-haul trucking pay is lower compared to long-haul. If that is something you are willing to compromise, then short-haul trucking may work to your advantage.