How Important Is OTR Experience?

Topic 27797 | Page 1

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VictoriaIsland's Comment
member avatar

I am a rookie driver with approx 59K miles logged and 6 months on the road doing local driving pulling doubles. I am now browsing trucking companies looking for some full time driving work and to build up my experience. I see that most OTR companies require sometimes a couple of years of OTR experience.

I was curious, I have 6 months local and I am currently looking at an intermodal driver opening that would have me home daily, also not OTR. So let's say I put in a year or two with that company, let's say I have 3 years driving experience all local, Would I still be looked down on or not considered for hire for a company that requires some number of months OTR?

What specific experience do I need as a driver to drive OTR that I would not get driving local? How to sleep in your truck? Maybe not having experience taking loads over the Rockies? or maybe they want someone that knows how difficult it is living on the road and are afraid of hiring someone that will quit after the first week not knowing what they are getting into?

If looking at future employment opportunities, should I forget local driving jobs and just suck it up and try to get on with someone that will train me OTR to get that experience under my belt?

For the quality of life, I would prefer local driving, but I think I would also enjoy some OTR, Regional anyway. Not interested in being one of those OTR guys that gets a day or two home per month, No thanks.

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.

Intermodal:

Transporting freight using two or more transportation modes. An example would be freight that is moved by truck from the shipper's dock to the rail yard, then placed on a train to the next rail yard, and finally returned to a truck for delivery to the receiving customer.

In trucking when you hear someone refer to an intermodal job they're normally talking about hauling shipping containers to and from the shipyards and railyards.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

OTR doesnt count your local ezperience as experience. It entails WAY more than just learning to sleep in a truck.... which sounded kinda rude.

OTR is about time management, HOS , trip planning and rotating shifts. Local picks up and stops stops stops. Local gets a reset usually at the same time every day and a set schedule. OTR is 24/7

OTR needs to plan everything... i dont have time to respond... but it is way way more than just sleeping in a truck.

Stay local.... just by your post you wont be happy.

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.
VictoriaIsland's Comment
member avatar

OTR doesnt count your local ezperience as experience. It entails WAY more than just learning to sleep in a truck.... which sounded kinda rude.

OTR is about time management, HOS , trip planning and rotating shifts. Local picks up and stops stops stops. Local gets a reset usually at the same time every day and a set schedule. OTR is 24/7

OTR needs to plan everything... i dont have time to respond... but it is way way more than just sleeping in a truck.

Stay local.... just by your post you wont be happy.

Actually there was much more to that question than just "Sleeping in the truck" I asked... How to sleep in your truck? Maybe not having experience taking loads over the Rockies? or maybe they want someone that knows how difficult it is living on the road and are afraid of hiring someone that will quit after the first week not knowing what they are getting into?

If you found it rude you are too sensitive as it was not meant in that way at all which I thought was very obvious, I assume you saw that first line and tuned out. I was genuinely asking to learn, You seem to accuse me of ****ing on OTR or something.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Victoria, Kearsey's reply may have been short, but it's not rude, I'll put it another way. There's is more than driving an OTR semi than the things you asked about (like "sleeping in a truck"). I'm a CDL instructor and I know what goes into getting a CDL, which you have, I believe, and what trucking companies want and what new drivers need to know.

OTR driving is not a simple career. You ask these questions:

How to sleep in your truck? Maybe not having experience taking loads over the Rockies? or maybe they want someone that knows how difficult it is living on the road

And, believe it or not, two of the three are not taught in OTR driving school. They do come with the territory, though. You say you have been driving for a while locally. I'll trust the important part of Kearsey's answer: OTR doesn't count your local experience as experience. So should you apply for a long distance driving job, that company will understand you have a CDL license but they are treat you as a newly minted CDL driver with no experience in their line of work.

Swift, Prime, Roehl and others would talk to you about driving with them, but you will probably have to take another CDL class to learn the stuff you need to know, and you'll still be going out with an OTR trainer for several weeks. Kearsey is very clear: you need to have more OTR experience (which you can get in company training) before you will have to sleep in a truck on your own.

To answer your last question about any company being "afraid of hiring someone that will quit after the first week not knowing what they are getting into", this happens all the time. Unless you want to take the leap and learn about 75% more than you know about an OTR career, stay local.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Victorialand, whether you realize it or not, you started your trucking career in a rather unconventional way. One of the oddities about trucking is that certain locations of the country allow a little different path into this career. It sounds as if you are doing agricultural work. That's because there's sufficient demand in your area that allows drivers the opportunities that you've benefited from.

You probably have some great experience that many OTR companies wouldn't recognize or accept. I can see why it's confusing to you. I'm assuming you've been looking into other driving jobs and have discovered why we recommend folks start their driving careers as OTR drivers. It's generally accepted as the standard that helps develop a driver's skill set and basic understanding of being both productive and safe.

In most parts of the country it's really difficult to start out in a local driving position. Most local companies won't hire inexperienced drivers. That's a reality for 90% of us. You are an exception to that general practice and it's probably confusing to you.

As a general rule OTR experience is very important. It eases a driver into so many different scenarios. It teaches a driver how to plan for weather, time zone changes, traffic in big cities, and finding parking in remote and unfamiliar areas. It allows you to learn magical ways to work your hours and gain understanding of HOS rules. As an OTR driver you should learn little tricks about managing your time effectively so that you can be more productive. There's a lot to learn when a person wants to master this and be a Top Tier Driver.

It's hard for most of us to understand how you got your start the way you did. Very few of us had local opportunities available to us. Your location allowed it, but now I've got the feeling you are wanting to expand your horizons and try other things. If that's the case you will just have to accept the fact that very few companies will consider you as an experienced driver. That's really not a huge issue. Just go through their training and enjoy the new challenges that lie ahead.

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.
Yuuyo Y.'s Comment
member avatar

Do you think that applies to Food Service too where my experience is only good for other food companies?

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Do you think that applies to Food Service too where my experience is only good for other food companies?

It depends. The company I'm at in their hiring requirements said "some tractor trailer experience". It did not dictate OTR. Regardless if it says it or not apply for that job anyways. I've found in my area local jobs accept local experience. However, when I was looking at jobs there was some local jobs for Schneider that specified OTR experience. One additional reason they say OTR is they want to make sure you can handle driving. When I did food service I usually did about 100 miles a day. With my current job I average about 400-500 with some days well over 600. When I switched over I was exhausted after 300 miles!

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

Yuuyo, it's just hard to say. Most OTR companies do not consider local jobs as experience. It sounds crazy, because you guys have extremely challenging working environments. There are a few companies that look for what they call "tractor/trailer" experience. I think I've seen J.B. Hunt use that phrase in their recruiting.

It's honestly not a huge deal. We've seen plenty of people in your situation go try an OTR job and they start them with a trainer only to have the trainer bring them back to the terminal in two or three days reporting, "Hey this guy drives better than me." Then they put them in a truck and turn them loose.

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.

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.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Yuuyo Y.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Do you think that applies to Food Service too where my experience is only good for other food companies?

double-quotes-end.png

It depends. The company I'm at in their hiring requirements said "some tractor trailer experience". It did not dictate OTR. Regardless if it says it or not apply for that job anyways. I've found in my area local jobs accept local experience. However, when I was looking at jobs there was some local jobs for Schneider that specified OTR experience. One additional reason they say OTR is they want to make sure you can handle driving. When I did food service I usually did about 100 miles a day. With my current job I average about 400-500 with some days well over 600. When I switched over I was exhausted after 300 miles!

I'm just curious as I'm not really looking for a different kind of job at the moment. My longest driving day out of a 16 hour exemption involved around 350 miles and 7-8 hours of driving. And then when I was back (Mind you this is 03:00 to 19:00), I got to drive a van out to deliver more crap. I really can't stand driving more than 3-4 hours in a day at the moment.

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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