How Does Long-Haul or Local Truck Driving Affect My Pay?


How Much Do Long-Haul Drivers Make?

Long-haul drivers are responsible for taking freight wherever it needs to go, even if that trip is all the way from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast.  These drivers are also known as over-the-road, or OTR, drivers. 

Dedicated OTR drivers make up to $65,000/yr.

The most common long-haul driver is the solo trucker. Typically, these drivers can earn between $35,000 and $45,000 in their first year. After this, you can use your experience to get better-paying routes and more desirable freight.

With a year or two under the belt, long-haul drivers usually make an average salary between $45,000 to $65,000.

Many long-haul/OTR drivers choose to work as a team to tackle the long distance drive. These truckers can keep the truck moving at all times, run up their miles, and earn a higher wage.

Team drivers earn a combined salary ranging from $100,000 to $150,000 on average. This is then split between the two.

For those salaries, it’s important to know how much time you’re putting in. Every 14-hour shift typically includes 11 driving hours and 3 hours of loading or unloading cargo.

Truck drivers must adhere to the strict Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Within a week, you may not work more than 60 hours. During an eight-day period, the acceptable amount of hours is increased to 70.

Salary must be balanced with home time.

After either a seven or eight-day stretch, drivers are required to take off for 34-hours before starting the next cycle. This is your reset.

Trucking companies decide whether they want drivers to work 60 or 70-hour weeks, usually choosing the latter.

Truck drivers must be prepared to work these long hours and to be away from home for approximately three weeks at a time. Drivers work hard and make good money as a result.

Long-haul driving usually offers a variety of bonuses for staying safe, saving fuel, and passing DOT inspections. These perks also increase your take-home pay. The only catch is that you have to be comfortable with the lifestyle of a long-haul truck driver.


How Much Do Local Drivers Make?

Local truck drivers transport freight within a short distance of their hometown or home terminal. The biggest perk of driving local is that you get to return home every night.

Because local jobs allow drivers to return home to sleep in their own beds, these positions are highly competitive. Trucking companies only offer local routes to drivers with long-haul experience. After a 2-3 years of driving OTR, you have a much better chance of landing a local gig.

Local truckers deal with local traffic.

These rare local truck driving positions offer drivers an hourly wage that ranges between $8.67 per hour and $28.10 per hour.

Local drivers average about $42,000 a year, which is actually less than over-the-road. These jobs typically don’t get the same opportunities for bonuses as long-haul. 

Despite the increased home time, local drivers work in a position with higher stakes and lower salary. Local drivers are required to fluidly maneuver large vehicles through city streets and very small spaces every day. Greater traffic means greater potential for a accident, which makes local driving a dangerous job with less pay than OTR.

The average day for a local driver consists of 14 driving hours and 10-hours of rest. Subject to the same rules as long-haul drivers, local drivers are not permitted to work more than 70 hours in an eight-day period.

The highest-paid local drivers are typically found working inside the “Northeast Corridor” between Washington D.C. And Boston.

Based on this information, you can see the salary differences between long-haul and local truck drivers. Long-haul drivers are paid more due to their time away from home and the profitable bonus opportunities. Local drivers have fewer monetary perks, are paid by the hour, but get more time at home.

New truck drivers that can go the long-haul distance are the most in demand. Trucking companies want these drivers, and they’re willing to pay to hire them. And with a couple years experience, many of those drivers eventually decide to apply for local positions to get more home time.



About The Authors
Contributor: Jessica Cottner (Experienced writer with a background in travel and transportation).

Expert Review: William Mason (Current CDL Instructor and former truck driver with 20+ years of experience), Luke Nold (Experienced truck driver for 5+ years and published writer for Fleet Magazine).

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