The Myth Of Having To Go OTR!

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Gladiator 76's Comment
member avatar

I've been lurking & occasionally posting on this forum for about 2 years now. Over and over again I read about how you must have at least one year of driving experience before you can land a local driving job. While this may have been true in the past it's not true today. I spent 28 days in OTR training, found I didn't like it and driven locally ever since. In fact the company I drive for has 5 of us who have never driven over the road. I understand it helps to have experience and it is often easier to get a job when you have a job, but it isn't an absolute anymore. I would encourage anyone who doesn't want to live the OTR lifestyle not to sell yourself short, particularly if you live close to a port or large air port. Ports and air ports = LTL driving jobs. The key is to present yourself well to prospective employers, be persistent, and ask them to give you a driving test. Once you get the driving test, your fate is in your own hands. The company I work for is constantly looking for drivers because driving LTL isn't for everyone either!

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.

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.

Joseph C.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello,

I am new to the forum and looking to start truck driving. I plan to drive locally because i want to see my kids and make a decent wage. Can you have best of both worlds?

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

It's not set in stone that you must have a year of driving experience to land a local job. But that is the case with the overwhelming majority of local jobs. Also, being in the right area is key. Like you said, near the ports, airports, and throughout the Northeast you have a much better chance of finding something local early in your career. But for 95% of the drivers out there it simply isn't going to happen.

Now we tell everyone to stick with their first company for a year and there are good reasons for that. You said you left your first company after a month to land an LTL gig, right? Ok, now what happens if maybe two weeks into your new job you get in a small wreck and your company fires you? Happens all the time with new drivers. Now you're going to apply to new companies and they're going to see you left your first company after a month, get in a wreck two weeks into your second job, and now you need a third job. You have a total of six weeks experience but you've already left one company right away and got in a wreck at the second one right away. What are the chances anyone is going to want to hire you with a record like that? You'll be lucky if a farmer lets you drive an old Mack Truck through a corn field following a combine around all day.

I would encourage anyone who doesn't want to live the OTR lifestyle not to sell yourself short, particularly if you live close to a port or large air port...Once you get the driving test, your fate is in your own hands.

We do not teach people to do whatever it takes to maximize their first year income, nor do we teach them to try to land their dream job one month out of school. We try to recommend to everyone the safest, surest path to creating a strong, successful foundation for their career. It's nice that you think you know so much about trucking that you can come in here and tell everyone, "Hey, the heck with what the guys with 25 years in this industry are saying. Go for the Gold right away!" But if the scenario I just pointed out to you happens to someone after taking your advice are you going to put paychecks on the table for their family when nobody wants to hire them and their career comes to a screeching halt?

In fact, we do indeed have several conversations going on right now with people who have had accidents early in their first year of driving. Off the top of my head one person was fired, the second person kept their job, and the third kept their job but was suspended from driving for a few weeks. Ironically the results were the opposite of the severity of the wreck. The first person scraped against another truck in a truck stop parking lot and was fired. The second person flipped their loaded truck and trailer over, destroying the truck, but kept their job. The third person had a trailer loaded wrong in a parking lot, tipped it forward on its nose, and kept their job but was suspended from driving for a few weeks. So you can't even say, "Well as long as I don't destroy the truck I probably won't get fired." Baloney. People get fired for small fender benders or backing into things all the time. Today is Monday and I'll bet 150 drivers across the country will get fired today for minor accidents where no injuries or tow trucks were involved. Stuff that certainly wouldn't even make the local news.

My point is that the longer you stay with a company, especially a company that routinely hires a lot of student drivers, the better your chances of being shown mercy if you make a mistake. If you get in a wreck early in your career and lose your job you're going to have one heck of a time finding another opportunity and it sure as heck isn't going to be your dream job. It can take two or three years to get enough safe experience under your belt to land a great job after that. So in that case jumping ship to land that dream job 30 days into your career doesn't look so great, does it?

There are a lot of things to consider when trying to survive that first year in the trucking industry. There are well-established paths that will give drivers the best chance at success. There are also less traditional paths that you might be lucky enough to find, or you might be unlucky enough to find, depending on how things go once you get out there. We're not telling everyone to take a more traditional path for no reason. Trucking is risky enough as it is without taking additional risks early on in your career.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Heavy C's Comment
member avatar

Hey gladiator. If you've been lurking that long than you will know that I'm one of the biggest supporters for driving local that in these forums. Every time I see a question related to driving local I try and jump on. Just so people see that it is possible. And while you are right that it can happen. Like you and Brett pointed out where you live means almost everything. I don't try and get people set on they won't ever go otr but more what they can do to stay local. If they do everything I suggest and can't land a local they must be prepared to go otr or regional at least to get their career started. So while I will agree that local is certainly feasible its not a myth entirely that going otr will be required.

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.

Logan M.'s Comment
member avatar

I may just be the know nothing rookie here but from what I've driven as new as I am, I don't want to fight traffic running local now as much as I would like to be home. Ifeel like the reason a majority want experienced drivers is because their skill set is developed beyond mine for the time being. I've had to get into tight docks in Chicago or anything in jersey for that matter and narrow road and rush hour traffic but for my entire day? Not yet. Otr I get a good chunk of my day cruising in 10th with the radio up windows down and playing in traffic occasionally. I think that environment is better, talk about baptism by fire. I don't wanna know of I'd still be here if I drove local in the northeast right after testing. I'm know my blood pressure would be up, that much I can say. I'm not knocking guys who can hack it I'm just throwing my 2 cents in as a guy with little experience.

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

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

I may just be the know nothing rookie here but from what I've driven as new as I am, I don't want to fight traffic running local now as much as I would like to be home. I feel like the reason a majority want experienced drivers is because their skill set is developed beyond mine for the time being. I've had to get into tight docks in Chicago or anything in jersey for that matter and narrow road and rush hour traffic but for my entire day? Not yet. Otr I get a good chunk of my day cruising in 10th with the radio up windows down and playing in traffic occasionally. I think that environment is better, talk about baptism by fire. I don't wanna know of I'd still be here if I drove local in the northeast right after testing. I'm know my blood pressure would be up, that much I can say. I'm not knocking guys who can hack it I'm just throwing my 2 cents in as a guy with little experience.

That's exactly the reason most local jobs or linehaul jobs pulling doubles require experience. It's a lot more difficult and dangerous job to do. When you're in heavy traffic all day bumping dock after dock you're facing a lot of very tight spots and difficult situations. With most local jobs you're trying to squeeze into really small docks, you're backing in off the road, and you're navigating your way around incredibly busy city streets all day, every day. And pulling doubles is super easy until you have to try to stop them on slick roads or take them through the mountains with the types of trucks a lot of the linehaul companies use. Many of those companies have really old equipment or they put really small engines in them with no Jake Brakes.

Most people who want local jobs are trying to be home as much as possible because they have families. So it's easy to understand why people would want to go local or run linehaul as quickly as possible. But get a set of doubles on slick roads or spend the day making 10 stops with a 48 foot trailer around Downtown Philadelphia and you'll see why these jobs pay so well and they're traditionally for experienced drivers.

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.

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

Gladiator 76's Comment
member avatar

Im not telling anyone what they should or should not do. I was just stating what worked for me and pointing out an option that others might wish to pursue. When I was in truck driving school OTR was the only option presented to us. I'm not disputing what anyone said. In my case I wasn't going to drive if it meant driving OTR, so I pursued an LTL job. I am not recommending that anyone start job hoping. I've been with my company for over a year and have no plans to leave even though other companies pay a little more. My company gave me a chance before all the others, so now they are reaping the benefits...... Now that I know what I'm doing. I'm not trying to encourage anyone to get in over their head, just offering an option.

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
Im not telling anyone what they should or should not do. I was just stating what worked for me and pointing out an option that others might wish to pursue

I understand.

But I have to point out to people that there are very solid reasons we encourage people to start out OTR or regional , and preferably dry van or refrigerated, and learn the ropes first. We have conversations going on right now in our forum where a rookie flatbedder flipped a truck and by the grace of God wasn't killed, and a rookie driving P&D for an LTL company who is currently serving a three week driving suspension for repeated (mostly minor) incidents. Now mind you I'm 100% confident that both of these drivers care deeply about being the hardest working, safest drivers they can possibly be and they're putting in tremendous efforts toward that goal. But they're in very difficult and dangerous jobs, especially for rookies, and it's really a roll of the dice.

Pulling doubles , hauling freight on a flatbed, pulling a tanker (especially food grade without baffles), and running local city jobs are all extremely difficult and dangerous jobs. I personally would much prefer to see someone get at least 6-12 months of experience in OTR or Regional jobs before attempting any of the more difficult and dangerous jobs. I'm not saying that nobody should ever do any of those jobs straight out of school, but I am saying that they're taking what I feel is an excessive risk. I feel they're putting their career and people's lives on the line before they're really ready for it.

And to be honest, I'm really surprised that these companies are letting rookies run the city jobs or pull doubles. I'm also a bit surprised there are so many flatbed jobs available for rookies. There isn't a lot of mystery in how that's going to turn out for a lot of drivers I'm afraid. Anyone can handle any kind of rig when you're simply cruising down the Interstate by yourself on a sunny day in July. But throwing a rookie into city traffic, double trailers, sloshing liquids, or shifting flatbed loads is really asking for trouble.

Everything in trucking comes down to risk management. Almost every decision you make has at least some risk involved, and many of them can mean the difference between life and death. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much pride you take, you simply will not have the knowledge and skills early in your career to handle the more difficult and dangerous jobs, especially when faced with an emergency situation where quick thinking and precise evasive action will determine whether people make it home to see their families or not.

So when we tell people to go OTR, it isn't because we don't want them to see their families or because they have no other options. It's simply a matter of advising them to take the safest, surest route we know of into the trucking industry so they can establish their career on solid footing and develop their skills for the next level.

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.

Baffle:

A partition or separator within a liquid tank, used to inhibit the flow of fluids within the tank. During acceleration, turning, and braking, a large liquid-filled tank may produce unexpected forces on the vehicle due to the inertia of liquids.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Logan M.'s Comment
member avatar

I've had to deliver downtown Phili 4 stops with my trainer went through rush hour twice, maybe some others catch on quicker than me. But that was definitely not in my comfort zone. Im just getting into my own truck and still have problems backing into some tight docks I wouldn't enjoy this job nearly as much. It also makes me question the company a little as to why they don't want experience when a majority of places do. Again I'm a rookie so grain of salt.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Gladiator 76, I understand why you call it a 'myth,' and can appreciate your desire to spread the word. I feel the same way. When you have a great opportunity, you want to share it. Reality is that a lot of this depends on location. The more dense of a population, the more freight available = more job opportunities - specifically opportunities for LTL or local trucking gigs. That's why the northeast is a hotbed for local trucking jobs, especially LTL. But some folks live out in the middle of nowhere or not near freight lanes, and OTR is what they have available.

It's been somewhat of a recent phenomenon that rookie drivers can land great LTL jobs. This wasn't the case years ago. So, I don't think that older drivers or experienced folks that have been in the industry are purposefully trying to spread misinformation - they're just not up to speed.

In regard to pulling doubles - try doing it in the heart of Brooklyn, NY. smile.gif You can make turns better than if you were pulling a van, but man I'd hate to take a wrong turn and be forced to break the set down, rather than being able to just back the rig up.

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.

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.

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