Things to Know About Long-Haul Trucking
Trucking can be an incredibly rewarding career in an ever-growing industry that hasn’t slowed down at all. In fact, the trucking industry is responsible for a huge portion of the American economy (around $700 billion worth of economy as of 2019), and you’ll get to play a part in it. Along with the various benefits and job security that comes with it, trucking can give even more depending on what kind of trucking you’re looking to do. There are two typical types of trucking that a truck driver can take on: Short-Haul and Long-Haul.
For those looking to make the most out of their trucking career, you may be ambitious enough to take on Long-Haul Trucking. But before you take the dive, here’s some helpful information about Long-Haul Trucking, so that you’ll know what to expect!
What Exactly is Long-Haul Trucking?
Long-haul trucking is when you transport goods and freight in a truck over a distance of 250 miles or more. Another term for long-haul trucking is sometimes “Over the Road” trucking, and it’s because of how this particular type of trucking usually involves being on the road for more than a day. Compared to “short-haul trucking”, which can allow a truck driver to return home by night in a lot of cases, long-haul truckers can even go weeks before returning home.
For truckers who favor seeing home often, short-haul trucking is probably their preferred choice. But if you don’t mind the lifestyle of living on the road and making good money while you do it, long-haul trucking could be in your future.
You’ll have two ways to get on the road as a long-haul trucker. You could either work for a company as a part of their fleet, or you could strike it out on your own.
Is Long-Haul Trucking in Demand?
Very much so! Long-haul trucking is responsible for transporting the majority of American freight—without long-haul trucking, whole portions of the economy would shut down as supply chains crumble. In fact, there is actually a shortage of truck drivers, and more long-haul truckers are direly needed for the American economy to continue smoothly without supply concerns. Furthermore, the number of truckers has only continued to grow each year as companies across the nation grow and demand for materials is only moving upwards.
How Does Long-Haul Trucking Differ from Short-Haul Trucking?
The difference in distance traveled is but merely the tip of the iceberg in what makes long-haul trucking different from short-haul trucking. If you’re considering long-haul trucking, be sure to prepare yourself for a lifestyle change. Since you’ll be spending anywhere from days to weeks on the road, you’ll find yourself not seeing home as often as a lot of people would prefer, that means less family-time and less doing things in your home area. You’ll need to adjust to literally a life on the road as you’ll spend nights sleeping in your truck. This change in work-life balance can be too extreme for some, but if the idea of traveling the nation and living in your vehicle sounds like an adventure, then you might be a good fit. What’s more, long-haul trucking can pay a significant amount more than short-haul truckers.
What About Challenges for Long-Haul Truckers?
You’ve heard a lot about the good pay, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any challenges for long-haul truckers. There’s more than just the challenge of being away from home for extended periods of time.
- Probably the most obvious of the challenges next to work-life balance, fuel costs can grow enormously depending on how much driving you need to do for a job. You could be making a lot of money, but you can expect fuel costs to take a large chunk of that cash if you’re an independent owner-operator. If you work for a company, however, you might be able to use a company credit card to cover the cost of fuel.
- Complying with Hours of Service (HOS)
- You’ve probably heard the stories of truck drivers driving for too long and falling asleep at the wheel. That’s why HOS Compliance was created, to help ensure that truck drivers are properly rested and avoid those fatigue-related accidents. Truckers today must use electronic logging devices to ensure that they are complying with their driving hour limitations each day. This can prove a challenge because it does mean spending more time away from home—but it is also for your safety and the safety of others around you since truck accidents can be especially devastating.
- Shipments Getting Rejected
- It does happen and it can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it can happen from a delivery being delayed, or it can happen because the goods being carried were found to be spoiled—these can all cost thousands of dollars to either owner-operators or companies, but if you’re thinking of being an owner-operator, understand that these costs will be felt directly. But even a company impacted by these costs can lead to affecting truck drivers like you, as they can damage company reputation and hurt client relationships.
- Best way to avoid these possible scenarios is to ensure that you plan out your route and trips to arrive on time and in a safe manner. Ensure that your cargo is all loaded properly into your trailer. If you have goods that can spoil, use a temperature-monitoring device and take protective measures to ensure your cargo reaches their destination in proper condition.
Still Interested in Becoming a Long-Haul Trucker?
If all of this sounds interesting and exciting to you, the first thing you’ll want to do is investigate into what trucking school you’d like to attend. Find one that will teach you how to drive and handle big rig trucks while learning how to best prepare for your CDL. In order to become a long-haul trucker, you will be required to have what’s called a CDL Class A License.
One thing to expect when you start out as a truck driver is that you’ll be working under a truck driver trainer for a period of time, learning from their example and experiencing the truck driving world through the perspective of their truck. Another thing to expect is the time it will take to grow as a truck driver. If you’re working as an owner-operator, you’d be making all the decisions. But if you’re looking for the stability and security of working under a company, expect to be given the lesser assignments as you grow in experience. But once you’ve become a more experienced driver, you’ll be given the more lucrative routes and better cargo, which means more money in your pocket.
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