Starting Out Regional And "paying Your Dues"

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wayward's Comment
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I have read the sentiment somewhere on this site that drivers in their first year should begin OTR to improve their prospects for better positions later on. As I was searching for companies to pursue, I decided that I'd rather do regional than OTR and that they're so similar, it shouldn't really matter to an employer whether I only have experience in one or the other.

I currently have no trucking experience and I have an interview tomorrow with a medium-sized company that only offers regional positions. I'd like to hear from someone that knows better whether my assumptions about paying your dues are safe or if I'm setting myself up for a hard time job searching in the future.

PS - Big thanks to everyone involved in the creation and design of this site. Brett's book, the truck driver's career guide, the trucking company reviews and the cdl training material are everything I wanted to know before I changed my career.

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.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
I decided that I'd rather do regional than OTR and that they're so similar, it shouldn't really matter to an employer whether I only have experience in one or the other.

Welcome aboard wayward! Yes, that's 100% correct. Regional and OTR are considered the same as far as experience goes and either one are a great way to get experience your first year. Sometimes we lump everything into "OTR" but in some cases that includes regional, even though we don't specify it.

For those who are unsure of the difference, OTR (over the road) generally refers to running the entire area that a company operates in which may be just a small section of the country or it might be the lower 48 states. You're usually away from home for 3 - 4 weeks at a time and home for 3 - 4 days at at time.

Regional generally refers to running a certain region of the country, usually within 1000 miles or so of your home. Most regional gigs will get you home on the weekends.

Contrary to what many seem to believe, you can often times make as much money running regional as you can OTR. I ran on a regional fleet for over two years where I was home every weekend and still averaged over 3,000 miles every week. I had a lot of experience and a fantastic dispatcher , both of which were key to making that happen. But you do not have to stay out for weeks at a time to make great money in this industry, and there are a lot of companies out there that can get you home on weekends.

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.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

I started OTR with Schneider and drove two years for them before going regional with another company. While I’m glad I did the OTR (I was averaging 10,000 miles/month), I’m making more money in Southeast regional AND getting home every week, averaging 11,000+ miles/month. In fact, last night was a bonus, sleeping at home and going on this morning.

Whichever you decide, I suggest doing the High Road Training Program on here. It’s how I got my permit.

I hope this helps.

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.

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.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

Keep in mind it varies from company to company. Regional at my ex's company meant east of Denver and sometimes Canada. He lived in NJ woukd be out 2 weeks then get a 34 at home which is not the same as a full weekend. he didnt get more home time tgan me OTR but he did see home more often.

What was worse is his truck was a much smaller "regional" truck inside than the OTR trucks i have been in. so out the same amount of time per month, but smaller living space.

Also consider the region. The Northeast sucks. it is tight turns, hard backing, windy roads with nowhere to turn around for 20 miles. Add in the winter and yuck. Southeast woukd be my choice as a newbie. No mountains, minimal snow and ice, predictable traffic patterns.

Regional can also.mean going to smaller places than OTR. Fot example, i go to a lot of distribution centers with big areas to back easily. My friend is regional and does a lot of stores and shopping centers. much tighter backing and has to fight the cars in the lots.

Be sure to ask what "regional" means at each company. good luck

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Keep in mind it varies from company to company. Regional at my ex's company meant east of Denver and sometimes Canada. He lived in NJ woukd be out 2 weeks then get a 34 at home which is not the same as a full weekend. he didnt get more home time tgan me OTR but he did see home more often.

I don't think I would consider that regional. East of Denver and home every two weeks? That's more like OTR that gets you home every two weeks instead of three.

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.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Keep in mind it varies from company to company. Regional at my ex's company meant east of Denver and sometimes Canada. He lived in NJ would be out 2 weeks then get a 34 at home which is not the same as a full weekend. he didnt get more home time than me OTR but he did see home more often.

double-quotes-end.png

I don't think I would consider that regional. East of Denver and home every two weeks? That's more like OTR that gets you home every two weeks instead of three.

Pretty much...but the company classified it as regional and the Mack trucks were much smaller on the inside because OTR living space "was not needed". A way to save money? i dont know.

The way dispatch worked was they gave him a load from NJ to say, TX. The TX dispatch would head him back to NJ. If say he got back on Wed, he would run NJ until Friday. When his 34 was up, he would be out again.

In the 2 years i knew him, he went to Calif a few times for the extra money, but...yep..they claimed it was regional...so trucker beware! lol

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hello Wayward!

I just want to throw something else into this conversation. I don't really consider the purpose of starting as an OTR driver as "paying your dues." What it does is eases you into the various difficulties that a local driver gets thrown into from the beginning. It is one of the safest surest ways to get a new driver acclimated to handling that Big Rig in all types of situations.

Traditionally this has been the most productive method of developing one's driving practices and skills. That is why you want to begin your career as an OTR driver, and that is why the local jobs are usually wanting to see one to two years experience for their new hires.

There are plenty of OTR drivers out here who love this lifestyle. You'd have a hard time convincing them that they are stuck in the mode of "paying their dues."

Also, I agree that Regional trucking jobs have those same benefits for helping you establish yourself in this career. Everyone considers a regional gig much the same as OTR as far as gaining experience goes.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

At my company, OTR and regional are pretty much the same thing. Regional gets ho.me weekly and Network Fleet (our version of OTR) gets you home every other week.

Basically they'll send us anywhere they need us to be if they know they can reasonably get us home on time. I started out as a Midwest Regional driver lol. I live in Kentucky. My first 6-8 months I pretty just ran southeast loads constantly. I switched to network fleet and ran east coast/new England etc. Switched back to Midwest Regional.. haha.. I go to upstate NY, Miami.. wherever. I tell em I'm like a bad girl. Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere. Because of where I live, they can literally send me any direction and easily get me home. Every now and then when I have a trainee, I'll stay out several weeks at a time but my company certainly doesn't require that.

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.

Dan M.'s Comment
member avatar

Whichever you decide, I suggest doing the High Road Training Program on here. It’s how I got my permit.

I did as well Steve and am amazed at how much it helped me pass the test.

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.
Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

Also, I have never felt like I was "paying my dues" lol. I love every day out here. Never been and can't imagine I'd ever want a local job.

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