Why Does Anyone Drive OTR If LTL Pays So Much More?

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Robert J.'s Comment
member avatar

Serious question. I've been reading that most LTL drivers are unionized and make 70k-80k per year vs. 30k-40k per year for OTR drivers, and that LTL drivers get motel rooms rather having to sleep behind the cab of the truck. I've also read that turnover is very low for LTL, whereas it is astronomical for OTR.

Why does anyone drive OTR then? It seems like both jobs require the same things - a clean MVR , a CDL , and maybe some endorsements.

There has to be a reason why so many drive OTR instead. What are the big downsides of driving LTL?

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

MVR:

Motor Vehicle Record

An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.

Rob's Comment
member avatar

Your figure for OTR drivers is accurate for a typical rookie. Experienced drivers make more than that usually. It all depends on how dedicated you are to learn the business, and manage your clock. In a different post, Turtle posted that he made over 58k his first year. A lot of why people do OTR is they like the adventure. Most drivers enjoy driving all over the country, not knowing where they'll be, or where the next load will take them. With LTL (particularly linehaul) you will drive the same route day in and day out. For many, the monotony of that would drive many people crazy. Also, starting out MOST of the time you'll need to start off OTR , although there are some exceptions (such as six string)

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

millionmiler24's Comment
member avatar

Serious question. I've been reading that most LTL drivers are unionized and make 70k-80k per year vs. 30k-40k per year for OTR drivers, and that LTL drivers get motel rooms rather having to sleep behind the cab of the truck. I've also read that turnover is very low for LTL, whereas it is astronomical for OTR.

Why does anyone drive OTR then? It seems like both jobs require the same things - a clean MVR , a CDL , and maybe some endorsements.

There has to be a reason why so many drive OTR instead. What are the big downsides of driving LTL?

You want all the answers about LTL? Read this thread by 6 String Rhythm:

LTL Trucking - My Linehaul Job

Read that and based upon what was said maybe you could formulate some downsides for you based upon it?

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

MVR:

Motor Vehicle Record

An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.

C T.'s Comment
member avatar

Where did you get 30k from? You can literally flip burgers and make that lol. Anyway the main reason is because ltl carriers typically hire from within or experienced drivers. Anybody with a pulse can be hired to a lot of otr companies. Typically drivers get their experience doing otr then try to move on to ltl companies. If you're in the right location you could get into ltl fresh out of school. Of course some drivers do enjoy otr and hit that 70k figure.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Tim F.'s Comment
member avatar

I’ve been driving LTL for 1-1/2 years and haven’t stayed in a motel yet. Each night I return the key to the truck and go home. I work 55 hours a week straight time. I make a little more than I did OTR. But each night I come home so tired and sore that I basically have dinner and go to bed. Then I wake up and do it again the next day. No...they can have LTL...I’m going back regional with Roehl...I’ll be quite happy...home on weekends...3 ft commute...no getting up and down from the trailers and no unloading freight in zero degree weather

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Not only is OTR a fantastic adventure for someone who is looking for that kind of thing, but another advantage is that you can live in your truck, which I did for almost my entire OTR career. I didn't own a car, I didn't have an apartment. Literally everything I owned I could carry in two duffel bags. So my living expenses were virtually nothing. I was able to save a ton of money over the years that way.

Like others have mentioned, LTL is super monotonous. It's a job, not a lifestyle or an adventure. You're basically punching a clock. I would lose my mind. Most members of my family worked in the steel industry or on a production line of some sort. They absolutely loved it. I did it for a very short time and nearly lost my mind with boredom. I've never been married and don't have any children so I just lived on the road and loved the adventure of it. There's no lifestyle like full time travelling. It's amazing.

If you have a family or you're a homebody who loves a routine then LTL would be an awesome option. If you're looking to hit the open road and set out on an adventure then OTR is awesome.

Your pay figures are way off also. Top Tier OTR drivers with a few years experience are often making $70k+

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Rob's Comment
member avatar

One other thing....some OTR drivers do it because it's the only option they have. They may live out in the boondocks and not have LTL near them. These LTL companies are usually with a few miles of each other because they're strategically placed terminals to move freight. So if you live in say, rural Mississippi, LTL isn't an option unless you uproot your family to move to the city, where as OTR companies hire from nearly everywhere (with a few exceptions).

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Robert J.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the replies.

Also, I love the supportive community here. It's great!

Gladhand's Comment
member avatar

Everyone has different reasons. I am a firm believer of its not what you make, it's how much you save. This last year I grossed 48k, that was with me missing most of January due to getting sick. I saved 50 percent of my income due to being homeless and having low expenses. I was able to pay off my student loans and get debt free this past year as well.

I am interested in LTL , but due to my location I have to move to do it. I am really on the fence about all of it as well. OTR can be hell or heaven dependent on ones perspective. I am more than happy to live below my means and learn about who I am.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

I wouldnt like the schedule of LTL. It sounds like i would be maximizing my day everyday. Now with OTR if i dont feel like driving a full shift i can often be flexible. I got a load Thurs night that didnt deliver until.Mon. That let me take a couple days to get a jacuzzi suite with my boyfriend and unwind which did not count as hometime and gave me a 34 break.

I have a better mattress on my truck than most hotels, and as Brett said, I have no overhead costs. I went from $1200 per month rent plus $400-$500 utilities to paying $250 for storage. guess what i did with the difference? I climbed myself out of massive debt.

i also get to take hometime anywhere in the country.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

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