Over The Road Trucking Requirements, Benefits and Challenges

From the report of the United States Census Bureau, there are 396,898 trucking businesses classified as long-distance. Over the road trucking, also known as OTR, is a type of trucking in which drivers are required to haul the goods or supply over thousands of miles and over many states. The OTR is the most popular form of trucking in the US. The OTR truckers are on the roads for weeks. It is common to see OTR teams on the road instead of solo drivers. 

The OTR team operates in shifts, which makes the journey complete faster. OTR drivers haul many types of loads like heavy machinery, vehicles, construction materials and consumer goods. 

Discover all about OTR trucking from the blog below by Truck Driver News.

Requirement to Become a Over The Road Truck Driver

To become a OTR driver, you need to meet different requirements. The requirements may include experience, age, training, medical conditions and many more. The requirements for becoming a OTR driver are listed below:

Commercial Driver’s license

A commercial Driver’s license can be obtained at the age of 18 if you have a regular driving license. The criteria for obtaining a commercial driver’s license is you should have a regular driving license and two years of road experience. The cost of obtaining a commercial driver’s license is between $ 3,000 and $ 10,000. These will vary according to the school you choose and where you live. You’ll need a CLP (Commercials’ Learner Permit), which will allow you to operate a commercial vehicle during the training under the supervision of a CDL holder.

Pass the CDL exam

After completing the training from the driving school, you can move down to giving the test from your state’s DMV or BMV. The fee for obtaining a license is $60 to $120, depending on the state. CDLs are categorized into three categories (A, B, & C) according to the size and weight of the vehicle.

Meet Medical Qualifications

The medical qualification is done for the safety of the drivers. It is taken by the licensed medical examiner who is listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry. The examiner will check to ensure that you meet CDL physical requirements. The requirements that are required to pass the medical qualification are :

  • 20/40 vision in each eye, with or without corrective lenses
  • Peripheral vision of at least 70° in both eyes
  • The ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals
  • Blood pressure under 140/90
  • No diabetes requiring needle-injected insulin
  • A urinalysis
  • A physical endurance test
  • A medical history

The DOT physical also includes a drug test that screens for cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, THC, marijuana, and PCP. Drivers who test positive for any of these drugs may need additional follow-up. Drivers with blood pressure over 140/90 can still get certified to drive, but the certification will only be for 1 year or less.

At least 21 years of age

Operating OTR trucks requires CDL, which can be obtained at the age of 18, but you cannot go out of the state border. After turning the age of 21, you are able to go across many states.

Get your OTR experience

OTR companies require experienced drivers because of safety reasons. Even with local or regional experience, you’ll need to get the OTR experience. To get the experience, you’ll need to find a reputable trucking company providing training. Some of the companies even pay the trainees. Training is carried out in two types. In some companies, the student and the trainer work as a team. When the trainer sleeps, the student drives and vice versa, but in some companies, the student does all the driving, and the trainer never drives.

Benefits of Over The Road Trucking

Trucking is a lifestyle. Trucking has both benefits and drawbacks. OTR trucking is truly beneficial for you when you can enjoy being alone and love adventure. The benefits of OTR trucking are-

Flexibility and Freedom

Trucking as a profession has a very flexible timetable. You’re a boss of your own in this profession. You can choose the load you want to take and make the decision and choice of your own. You have very little restriction in trucking. You can work when you want and take a break whenever and wherever you want.

High Salary

OTR drivers have the highest salary. The entry-level is paid $43,000 a year on average. Most of the OTR drivers are paid according to the miles they travel. Long-haul drivers get paid 25% more than short-haul drivers. Trucking is a great option if you want to earn a lot of money with a high school degree.

Job Security

Trucking is one of the most demanded jobs. There is a high and steady demand for truck drivers. Due to the high population growth and high demand in the supply of goods, trucking is a secure job.

Unique and Adventurous Lifestyle

Trucking is a lifestyle, and this is not for everyone. Trucking requires many sacrifices, but you get a lot of benefits. Every day is unique. You’ll get to see different views every day. Every day, you’ll have a great adventure ahead when you’re on the road. Trucking is a great way to explore the country.

Few Requirements to Begin Career

Trucking is one of the highest-earning careers requiring only a high school degree. There are not many requirements to start a trucking career. You can start trucking with only 5 things: a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a high school diploma or GED, a good driving record, a driver finishing program and a commitment to employment.

Challenges of Over The Road Trucking

No job is perfect. Every job has its own downside. Here are some of the drawbacks of Over The Road trucking-

Electronic logging devices disrupt driver schedules

Electronic logging devices (ELD) were introduced by the government in 1986. It is designed to keep drivers safe and accountable on the road. ELDs can disrupt OTR driver’s schedules. According to hours of service ( HOS) regulation, truckers must take a 10-hour rest after an 11-hour drive. A trucker must take a 30-minute break after each 8 hours of cumulative driving. ELDs document everything, so truckers cannot go past these regulations.

Poor infrastructure creates unfavourable conditions

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 65% of America’s roads are rated as in less than good condition, and 25% of bridges need replacing. Due to poor road conditions, there are delays in the time schedule, affecting the work. Poor infrastructure can create traffic on the highway or even damage your vehicle.

Physical Health Issues

Due to long hours of driving, the OTR driver barely gets time to exercise. The lack of exercise and sitting in the driver’s seat all day greatly affect their physical health. Lack of exercise and relaxation leads to diseases like diabetes, heart issues, and sleep apnea.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is found in 14% of the long-haul truckers compared to 7% of the US working population.

Lengthy Detentions

The detention is any extra time that is spent in the dock at the loading dock. You may experience a delay while picking up or delivering the goods. On average, it’ll take two to two to load or deliver the cargo in the warehouse, but sometimes, it may take longer than usual, affecting your trip schedule.

Insurance Cost/Eligibility

The insurance costs for OTR trucks are on the higher side due to their operating radius. On average, the insurance if you’re leasing onto a motor carrier may be around $3,000 to $5,000. If you operate under your own authority, you can expect insurance expenses of around $9,000 to $12,000 per year, but new authorities may even have to pay $16,000 annually for insurance coverage.

Being Away from Home

Truckers often go on really long trips, sometimes for a week or even a few weeks, without coming home. Some companies make them stay on the road for a long time, like months. This can be tough for the trucker and their family. They miss out on normal family life and can even break up with their partners because they’re gone so much. It’s easier for single truckers but not so great for those with families.

OTR Trucking Guide [FAQs]

Is being an over the road truck driver worth it?

Over the road truckers have a good paycheck. They can earn from $43,000 to $88,000 yearly. It is a very demanding and stable job. If you can stay away from your family for a few weeks and love travelling, this might be the perfect job for you.

Does local or OTR make more money?

OTR truck drivers make more money than local truck drivers because OTR drivers have higher hourly rates and sometimes are paid per mile travelled.

What is the highest-paying over the road trucking company?

The highest paying over the road trucking companies are Sysco Foods, Walmart, UPS, GP Transco, Marten Transport, ABF Freight System, Barr-Nunn Transportation, and Dupre Logistics.

Is OTR trucking stressful?

Yes, OTR can be stressful. You need to spend most of the time on the road, you cannot get good rest and exercise, and you need to make sure before the deadline, you make sure your vehicle is in perfect condition so that it can be stressful.

What are the cons of OTR trucking?

The cons of OTR trucking are high-paying jobs and job security. You don’t have a set time schedule, a unique and adventurous lifestyle and many more.

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