Truck Driving in Illinois

Illinois highway with Fed-Ex truck and signs

State Overview

There are over 20,150 trucking companies in Illinois and the industry employs 69,590 drivers. The highest paid truck drivers earn $58,200 ($27.98 hourly). The highest paying areas are Chicago-Joliet-Naperville (IL Metropolitan Division) with a Median Annual Salary of $48,360, Chicago-Joliet-Naperville (IL-IN-WI Area) ($47,910), and Rockford ($46,610).

Pros and Cons of Truck Driving in Illinois

GOOD: 

  • Tons of airfreight out of O’Hare and ocean freight
  • Diversity of equipment and lots of local work
  • Higher pay rates compared to most other parts of the country

BAD: 

  • Expensive tolls. Hard to get around the Chicago area without them
  • Chicago is a disaster; some narrow streets and tight docks
  • Any expressway into or out of Chicago. Low bridges not marked

Truck Driving Tips for Illinois

  • If you want to avoid Chicago, don’t get a food delivery position
  • Always watch your side the head exits are not always on the right in Chicago
  • Watch out for low bridges on the south side of Chicago
  • Driving safely, especially in the Chicago area, will pay dividends later
  • Getting out and looking is nothing to be embarrassed about

Fellow Truck Drivers in Illinois Say:

“Always respect the integrity of the trail”

Greg H. – 12 years and over 3 million safe miles under my belt

GOOD
Illinois is mostly a flat state so that’s a very good thing for truckers. Less hills could benefit your rollover risk and save fuel also. And it is also a less stressful state to drive a truck in from my OTR experience.

BAD
Illinois has a lot of rush hour traffic. Especially towards the inner city. Not really to many headaches if your an experienced driver but driving downtown and in the inner city can give u a headache. Tight turns and a lot of pedestrians can make for a long day. You have to be extra careful of what your doing.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Always respect the integrity of the trailer or whatever you’re pulling. Meaning go easy around curves because you don’t know how your trailer is loaded. (Avoid Rollovers) Also watch them tandems around turns and corners. If not paying attention, your tandems can rollover someone or something and seriously hurt them. Very common accident.

 

“More income potential”

Alan K. – 4 years of experience

GOOD
More freight and income potential

BAD
To many congested roads especially the 290 west ramp from 294

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Always watch your mirrors and space and do not pass on a curve

 

“Take your time to win”

Doreen V. – 8 years of experience and 500,000 miles

GOOD
Many us highways are truck friendly that are off the interstate. Many rural towns have truck friendly parking. Open road tolling. Service station’s on the toll way allow for easy parking. However they do not all overnight parking. Currently due to the budget the DOT scales are closed

BAD
If driving through Chicago drive overnight to avoid delay. Delivering within Chicago’s city limits are somewhat stressful due to narrow streets and traffic. Many docks are facing the street requiring a truck to stop traffic

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Have an updated trucker GPS. Obtain good resources to find adequate truck parking especially late at night. Take advantage of seeing the sights in an area where you have downtime. Use public trans or an uber. Get away from the truck and reach out to a church to attend services. Members are usually willing to pick you up sometimes take you home to shower and do laundry

 

“Lots of available work”

Andrzej B. – 11 years of experience

GOOD
Lots of available work

BAD
Lots of traffic and tight docks

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Be patient and very slow at customer warehouses, Illinois isn’t the best place to start driving

 

“Plenty of opportunities”

John P. – 16 years driving experience and over 1,000,000 miles

GOOD
Plenty of class A opportunities. Wide range of Loads.

BAD
Weather, road construction, traffic.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Go local, you will make more money that way.

 

“Chicago area traffic at rush hour times is a patience builder”

Gregory B. – 7 years experience next month

GOOD
Steady consistent work for people that are willing to deal with the chaos.

BAD
Chicago area traffic at rush hour times is a patience builder. Can effect delivery times. I 55 of known as the Stevenson expressway is one of these routes

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Always plan ahead as much as possible. Never be embarrassed to ask questions of for help. Most drivers are very accommodating and willing to help each other. There is a brotherhood type feeling out there

 

“Keep your cool and you’ll excel”

Kenny C. – 33 years of driving experience

GOOD
Most major companies have built or relocated to areas that are easily accessible. And over the last 20 years, the state has worked with trucking companies to reroute trucks and improve roads for truck access.

BAD
To me, the biggest problem is traffic around major cities during rush hours. But if you plan your route effectively, you can usually bypass these areas. Or you can plan your sleep breaks to coincide with heavy traffic areas

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
If driving is what you really want to do, don’t get discouraged by traffic, weather, muddy drop lots, deliveries that take longer than expected, dispatchers or anything else associated with trucking. Just keep your cool and take everything in stride. The more experience you obtain, the easier your job will become.

 

“Don’t cut corners”

Pierre L. – Local driver for 21 years

GOOD
You make a decent living to provide for your family with the extra work in Illinois

BAD
Headaches are the traffic on all the expressways in rush hours. The downtown driving and also the various truck routes to avoid viaducts

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Don’t cut corners; do everything by the book and you will last long

 

“Chicago is a mess, take it slow!”

David D. – 4 years of experience

GOOD
Fairly easy to get around. Customers I went to are relatively nice. Usually another driver is always willing to help

BAD
Chicago is a mess: some narrow streets and loading on the street itself

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Take it slow and always be alert and anticipate cars doing stupid things around you in traffic.

 

“Drive safely and you’ll meet interesting people”

Michael Y. – 13 years of experience

GOOD
You’re alone on the open roads and you meet some really interesting people in Illinois

BAD
Lots of impatient people and speeders

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Safety is most important and be mindful of the rules of the road

 

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