Over the Road Trucking: How Does it Work and What Are the Demands?

December 18, 2023

What is Over-the-road Trucking?

Over-the-load trucking is where the drivers carry loads over long distances either within the state or out of the state. The drivers can work for a particular trucking company, or there can be independent owner-operators who lease their truck and operate it independently. The work can be a week-long or a month-long, and over-road-trucker returns after transporting the load safely to the destination.

The over-the-road Truck Drivers:

After getting to know about over-the-road trucking you must be wondering, what is an OTR driver? Well, for your information the road truck drivers are either simply the normal drivers who are working for trucking companies and are paid to transport the loads over long distances. On the other hand, there are over-the-road truck drivers who are independent owner-operators. These owner-operators have their own leased trucks, and they act as over-the-road truckers by carrying goods over long distances. Hence, the main differentiator between the OTR driver, regional driver, and local driver is the distance covered by each in transporting the goods. 

The Difference Between OTR, Regional and Local Trucking:

Local trucking is the type of trucking where the driver transports the goods within a state. Whereas regional trucking involves the supply of shipment in different parts of the country and OTR trucking involves both the transport of supplies locally and internationally.

There are ways in which the three types of trucking differ from each other. Some of the core differences between the three types are mentioned below.


  • Work Structure

Local or regional truckers working for a single company as an employee is very common. The local driver supplies the goods from its company to the clients daily. They mostly transport the same kind of stuff each day or based on a weekly rotation. On the other hand, over-the-road truck drivers work for many companies. Whether they are independent truck drivers or drivers affiliated with a trucking company, they work as OTR drivers for more than one company and transport different goods from one trip to the next. 

  • Time Spent at Home

Secondly, many drivers choose local or regional trucking over OTR because they have increased time at home. While working for long hours as a local driver is common, they work long shifts as they have routes in one area and finish the day where they started, but they still get the opportunity to return home at the end of the shift. The regional drivers too, get back home after spending a few evenings in their trucks, but over the road, truckers spend days, weeks, or months away from home.

  • Consistency

The local and regional truckers enjoy familiarity. They have a single route or series of routes that they repeat on schedule. This makes it easier for them to plan their workdays as they become familiar with their routes and get to know what specific stops they need to stop and when to stop. Unlike these two, over-the-road truck drivers experience changes in routes very often. This is mostly due to their change in clients day to day leading to the change in routes. 

  • Compensation

As per statistics over the road trucking drivers are more in demand compared to local or regional drivers. The over-the-road truckers come with increased compensation as they are paid for the number of miles they have driven the truck. On the other hand, the local or regional truckers are paid on a salary basis and this leaves the over the road truckers with higher earning opportunities.

  • Age Restrictions

One can become a local truck driver at the age of 18. However, to drive outside the state lines one should be 21 years old minimum. Hence, if a young person needs to begin a career in trucking can start as a local truck driver and then later be promoted to become an over the road trucker. 

 Over the road Trucking Environment:

Most of the time is spent by the truckers in the cab of their trucks. The cabs include a living space where the truckers can spend their off time relaxing and resting. The over-the-road truckers also prepare meals during the long journeys they go on, or they buy food from a restaurant on their way. In over-the-road trucking, usually, there is a two-person team so each of them can relax and work simultaneously. The working environment of over-the-road trucking is appreciated by the drivers who enjoy traveling and working independently. 

Over-the-road Trucking Schedule:

Over-the-road truck drivers used to make long hauls in one session, but modern safety regulations have made schedules for drivers more feasible. Modern-semi trucks come with a digital device called ELD ( electronic logging device), the device turns on when the truck starts and monitors when the truck is being used. As per some government regulations, over-the-road truck drivers are only allowed to drive for 14 hours, after which they need to take 10 10-hour breaks. Some additional regulations dictate necessary breaks and maximum hours in a week-long period. Having mentioned all this, the truck drivers are mostly in control of their schedules, provided they follow all the regulations. 

OTR Trucking Career Requirements:

As per the rules to begin over the rod trucking commercial driver’s license is required. To get a CDL Commercials Learner’s Permit is needed as it authorizes the driver to practice driving on public roads. After holding a CPL for 14 days, a driver can take the three-part skills test. The driver provides his truck for practical examination, and the truck undergoes complete inspection before examination. The clearance of the exam earns the driver CDL, and then the driver can start driving over the road truck.

Over-the-road Truck Driver Salary:

The average salary of the road trucker is around $70000 per year. Per month salaries can vary from driver to driver based on experience level, employer, and location. However, committing to the OTR can lead to an increase in the earning potential of the truck driver as over-the-road truck driver mostly gets paid hourly which is more beneficial compared to salary-based earning like local trucking drivers or regional trucking drivers.


An in-depth analysis of all the factors of over-the-road trucking leads to the conclusion that it is one of the best trucking careers to earn more capital as a truck driver. Over the road, trucking requires both blood and sweat. It is one of the toughest jobs, requiring hours of driving without frequent breaks. An over-the-road truck driver does not return home from a shift for days, weeks, and months. The driver needs to be independent and adventurous as over-the-road trucking requires the drivers to sleep in truck cabs, cook their food, and survive all kinds of extreme weather. Hence this challenging job is still opted for by many drivers as they take back home a good sum of money, which further strengthens them to work hard and perform better.

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