After 25 Yrs. Of Local Work, (thinking, Only Thinking) Of Going OTR

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Mike W.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi everyone! I am a 25 yr driver with no OTR experience. I drove for 21 yrs with a union job doing local work in the Tri-State area (NY,NJ,CT,PA) My union job closed its doors in 2011. After that I decided to work for a non-union company to get away from the union crap. For a while things were pretty sweet. I was collecting a pension from the union job, and was making $21 hr doing container work at the piers with the non- union job. Before you start to think I'm trying to make some kind of Non-Union/Union debate here, let me assure you I'm not. The only thing I will say is that while there is a lot of things I HATE about the unions, if I had a choice, i'd go union. There's positives and negatives on both sides of the aisle. nough said. Anyway, the reason I am now thinking of going over the road is because the second job went from good to Horrible real quick. I went from doing pier work to making retail store deliveries, in Long Is. and Manhatten. I finally quit. I was traumatized, LOL. I will never touch freight again, LOL. So thats why Im considering OTR.

In my area there is local work (which almost always means handling freight), there is Line-Haul which means working the night shift (12-8), Regional , and OTR. Being that I'm single now, with grown kids, I thought it might be interesting to go OTR for a while to see what its like.

But here is why I'm slowing down on this idea, and here is where I need some input from you experianced OTR drivers. I can't believe how DESPERATE companies are to hire new drivers! I'm to the point where I'm ignoring phone calls and emails. It's getting to be annoying. I'm still not ruling it. I feel it might work for me because of my circumstances. I have to say though, if companies are this desperate for drivers, it can't be a good job, not for the long haul anyway. You would think that if its SO hard the get drivers, the companies would have to sweeten the pot, but that doesn't seem like its happening. Not if they continue to have such a shortage of drivers.

I just want to work for about 5-6 more yrs and then retire completely. So should I run from this idea, or give it a shot?

Your thoughts please.

Mike

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.

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.

Over The Road:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Indy's Comment
member avatar

Hi everyone! I am a 25 yr driver with no OTR experience. I drove for 21 yrs with a union job doing local work in the Tri-State area (NY,NJ,CT,PA) My union job closed its doors in 2011. After that I decided to work for a non-union company to get away from the union crap. For a while things were pretty sweet. I was collecting a pension from the union job, and was making $21 hr doing container work at the piers with the non- union job. Before you start to think I'm trying to make some kind of Non-Union/Union debate here, let me assure you I'm not. The only thing I will say is that while there is a lot of things I HATE about the unions, if I had a choice, i'd go union. There's positives and negatives on both sides of the aisle. nough said. Anyway, the reason I am now thinking of going over the road is because the second job went from good to Horrible real quick. I went from doing pier work to making retail store deliveries, in Long Is. and Manhatten. I finally quit. I was traumatized, LOL. I will never touch freight again, LOL. So thats why Im considering OTR.

In my area there is local work (which almost always means handling freight), there is Line-Haul which means working the night shift (12-8), Regional , and OTR. Being that I'm single now, with grown kids, I thought it might be interesting to go OTR for a while to see what its like.

But here is why I'm slowing down on this idea, and here is where I need some input from you experianced OTR drivers. I can't believe how DESPERATE companies are to hire new drivers! I'm to the point where I'm ignoring phone calls and emails. It's getting to be annoying. I'm still not ruling it. I feel it might work for me because of my circumstances. I have to say though, if companies are this desperate for drivers, it can't be a good job, not for the long haul anyway. You would think that if its SO hard the get drivers, the companies would have to sweeten the pot, but that doesn't seem like its happening. Not if they continue to have such a shortage of drivers.

I just want to work for about 5-6 more yrs and then retire completely. So should I run from this idea, or give it a shot?

Your thoughts please.

Mike

I think the main reason OTR companies have such a hard time keeping their seats filled compared to local companies is that the pay, when considered on an hourly basis, is much lower for OTR than local. You can still make good money otr but you'll have to work more hours to make what you have in the past.

If you're primarily thinking of doing it to experience the lifestyle then I'd go for it.

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.

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.

Over The Road:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Mike W.'s Comment
member avatar

Yeah, that's pretty much the way I'm looking at it. While right now I'm willing to walk away from anything that doesn't work for me, I still need medical benefits. Medicare doesn't kick in until 65. So while I could fool around a bit for a while, I'm eventually going to have to find something that works for a few years, maybe as much as 8. And as it looks, it won't be over the road.

I read that the trucking associations believe this driver shortage is only going to get worse, even though companies are trying to make life better, (more home time, creature comforts, and better pay). They say they just don't see it improving. Its a simple fact, if they want to fill these seats, they're going to have to make it worth while. I know some companies operate with a revolving door, but I can't see how that would be better than having long term employees. Seems to me that something is going to have to change, sooner or later. In the long run, either the we are all going to pay more for the things we want, or we all get used to not getting what we want when we want it. Given the way most Americans are, it seems like its going to be the later

Over The Road:

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.

Justin (Jakebrake)'s Comment
member avatar

With 25 years of local I would stay away from the starter companies like swift,prime ect, if you want to make good money go with a mom and a pop but they will run you into the ground with how hard they'll want you to run. Starter companies don't pay **** so remember that. I stay away from the big companies because of this. OTR isn't bad just remember avoid shopping at truck stops stop I'm walmarts with truck parking and shop there.

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.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Mike, I have no OTR experience, but I've researched plenty truckload companies. I am a linehaul driver, so I can give you that kind of perspective. Not sure if you've done linehaul or just P&D. Like the other feller mentioned, if you wanna just collect some health care and get out a bit, then by all means go OTR. If you wanna make some great money, but not have that OTR lifestyle, go linehaul.

Personally, I love linehaul. Before I gained any kind of seniority, I was out for 3-4 days at a time - that's what made me realize I'd prefer to get home daily if possible. I have a young family. That little bit of time on the road gave me enough of a taste to know that OTR isn't for my family. BTW, I've also done a little P&D at my LTL company.

Why do I like linehaul?

1. The pay

2. The regularity / routine of a schedule

3. I love to pull doubles

4. Once you know your terminal / meet point locations, it's just sit back and drive - no having to find a place you've never been to before in the middle of metro NYC ( yes, I go to the 5 boroughs, but to our terminals smile.gif )

5. I never touch freight

6. All drop and hooks, no waiting for 'live' loads at shippers and receivers

7. No dealing with the 'outside world,' i.e. shippers and receivers - just first name basis relationships with terminal dispatch and central dispatch, plus the camaraderie of other linehaul drivers for the company

8. No sleeping in the truck / at truck stops. Even when I bagged out, I was put up in hotel rooms. Now I'm home every day, so I sleep in my own bed and use my own shower

Hope some of this helps, at least if you're seriously considering linehaul.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

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

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Indy's Comment
member avatar

Yeah, that's pretty much the way I'm looking at it. While right now I'm willing to walk away from anything that doesn't work for me, I still need medical benefits. Medicare doesn't kick in until 65. So while I could fool around a bit for a while, I'm eventually going to have to find something that works for a few years, maybe as much as 8. And as it looks, it won't be over the road.

If I were in your shoes (no wife, grown kids) I would want to give it a try... but that's just me... the OTR lifestyle is appealing to me. I would guess that most of the larger OTR carriers provide benefits comparable to "local" companies. They just don't pay as well for the hours you put in... but, if you run hard you might make up the difference.

From my research, contrary to what was said above, Prime would be a good company to start OTR with... they're one of the better paying "starter" companies. Crete is another one.

And, if you really want to go all in, and fully embrace the lifestyle, ... what about becoming an owner operator?

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.

Over The Road:

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.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Mike W.'s Comment
member avatar

Mike, I have no OTR experience, but I've researched plenty truckload companies. I am a linehaul driver, so I can give you that kind of perspective. Not sure if you've done linehaul or just P&D. Like the other feller mentioned, if you wanna just collect some health care and get out a bit, then by all means go OTR. If you wanna make some great money, but not have that OTR lifestyle, go linehaul.

Personally, I love linehaul. Before I gained any kind of seniority, I was out for 3-4 days at a time - that's what made me realize I'd prefer to get home daily if possible. I have a young family. That little bit of time on the road gave me enough of a taste to know that OTR isn't for my family. BTW, I've also done a little P&D at my LTL company.

Why do I like linehaul?

1. The pay

2. The regularity / routine of a schedule

3. I love to pull doubles

4. Once you know your terminal / meet point locations, it's just sit back and drive - no having to find a place you've never been to before in the middle of metro NYC ( yes, I go to the 5 boroughs, but to our terminals smile.gif )

5. I never touch freight

6. All drop and hooks, no waiting for 'live' loads at shippers and receivers

7. No dealing with the 'outside world,' i.e. shippers and receivers - just first name basis relationships with terminal dispatch and central dispatch, plus the camaraderie of other linehaul drivers for the company

8. No sleeping in the truck / at truck stops. Even when I bagged out, I was put up in hotel rooms. Now I'm home every day, so I sleep in my own bed and use my own shower

Hope some of this helps, at least if you're seriously considering linehaul.

Thanks, I hear ya loud and clear. I am looking into line haul work now, for the very reasons you mentioned. Only thing is, is that its not too easy to come by. I know my phone wouldn't be ringing off the hook if I applied for a line haul job, LOL. I would have never considered it before but circumstances have changed. I'm actually considering ALL options, even driving a school bus. The fact is, collecting a pension and making a good salary only puts more money into Uncle Sam's pocket. While I would never encourage a younger person to go OTR for the adventure of it, I'm actually in a position to do just that. So I might just do it, keeping in mind some the suggestions here to stay away from the start up companies. Although Schneider has a tanker operation about 30 mins from me, and i thought I could see some of the country with them. Anyone have any thoughts about Schneider? Also Oakley was looking for drivers in my area. First think I have to do is get my HAZMAT back on. I had it when i first started driving, let it lapse, got it again after the union job closed, then let it lapse again, didn't think I was going to need it, didn't want to go through the trouble to keep it. I got my Tanker and Dbl/Triple endorsements, never drove either. I was thinking that might make it a little harder to get a line haul job since thats mostly doubles

Was that an Old Dominion truck in the picture there? Is that who you do line haul work for?

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

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

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.

Line Haul:

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

I second Prime or Crete / Shaffer for OTR. They pay well for ' starter ' companies. Personally, I don't think of them as starter companies.

I would consider CR England a starter company, because I couldn't imagine why anybody would stay there, unless they had a lack of options. But to each their own.

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.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Yep, I drive for OD. Are you in NJ?

Indy's Comment
member avatar
Although Schneider has a tanker operation about 30 mins from me, and i thought I could see some of the country with them. Anyone have any thoughts about Schneider?

Schneider Bulk.... I've heard nothing but good things. Top notch training, great money, ... they take good care of their tanker drivers, I'm told.

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