Truck Driving in Texas

Under an overpass on Texas highway

State Overview

There are over 49,490 trucking companies in Texas and the industry employs 181,640 drivers. The highest paid truck drivers earn $50,620 ($24.34 hourly). The highest paying areas are Dallas-Plano-Irving with a Median Annual Salary of $44,080, Abilene ($44,070), and Midland ($43,780).

Pros and Cons of Truck Driving in Texas

GOOD: 

  • Easy to get miles and freight, even if you want to stay in state
  • 70 mph speed limit, lots of cheap fuel stops
  • No mountains, long straight roadways, not many low bridges

BAD: 

  • Driver wages down slightly due to slow down in oil and gas
  • Violation tickets are expensive, too many weigh stations
  • Humidity and heat during summer; thunderstorms and tornadoes

Truck Driving Tips for Texas

  • Stay out of Laredo unless you have to go there
  • Research the company, know the pay scale, see if the company has high driver turn over
  • Always use an atlas to guide you in uncharted roads
  • Don’t park in east side of Houston or south Dallas because high crime area
  • Be careful in the winter time and watch out for icy roads

Fellow Truck Drivers in Texas Say:

“BE AS SAFE AS YOU CAN AT EVERYTHING YOU DO!”

Doug L. – 17 years driving across the country

GOOD
The economy in Texas is doing well compared to other parts of the country, so depending on where you are located there is a good selection of driving jobs available, You just have to be active in your job search.

BAD
Texas is becoming a popular place for transplants from all over the country so The traffic has become congested in just about every town and city in the state, You just can’t make good time like you used to even just ten years ago.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
If you’re younger than 30 I would say join the Military forget about trucking you can always do this after those 20 years fly by in the service get that retirement check you won’t ever forget your time in the service. If you had to get into trucking out of necessity “lay Off” etc. Do your best to take care of your health the road will ruin your health, “weight, Poor diet, Lack of exercise “who wants to work out after spending 10-14 hrs in the cab of a truck” Put your Family first get home as often as you can you will never run out of loads to haul, Time with your family/friends will. BE AS SAFE AS YOU CAN AT EVERYTHING YOU DO! Take Pride in the Job. After your first year of being on the road your inner voice will let the average person know if this is the job for him or her, LISTEN to it.

 

“Learn! Learn! Learn!”

Chris W. – 2 years driving OTR

GOOD
No mountains. Long straight roadways. Police are very trucker friendly.

BAD
Speeding cars. Dense Traffic in cities. Unsafe drivers of other trucks and cars. Landscape is very bland in some places.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Learn, learn, learn. Don’t fall for industry gimmicks and statistics. Drive safe at all times and stay alert. Understand that whichever company you go to the cal is yours. Stay safe and legal. They blow a lot of smoke and have no legal basis for it as long as you are running legal. Don’t make it a career. Use trucking as a skill for other opportunities that will come. Not much room for advancement as a trucker.

 

“Hang in there”

Keith B. – 22 years driving local

GOOD
There is little winter weather like ice and snow in the Winter. Freight is plentiful and loads go in every direction, even southward, across the border. Regulations for intrastate drivers are more relaxed than in most states and working for a Texas company, there is no state income tax for the worker.

BAD
Traffic is horrible in Houston, all the time. Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, and other large metropolitan areas are not too bad; just pay attention. Construction is everywhere and it is a pain but navigating through it is pretty easy.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Lots of dispatchers may be brain dead but some will try to work with you. You just have to keep in mind that most dispatchers have never even seen the inside of a cab except for Google images that someone has shown them. Find a place where you are happy and don’t worry about the jabber that others spew. If you like a company, stay there and ignore the bad reputation, poor publicity, and the constant negativity from some drivers who are unhappy about everything.

 

“Pay attention and be careful”

Daniel B. – 6 years behind the wheel

GOOD
Better than average roads. Better speed limits.

BAD
Icy conditions in the winter. Dallas traffic and road construction.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Pay attention to road signs such as speed limit, construction, etc. Be careful of the 4 wheelers. Give plenty of following distance.

 

“BE CAREFUL”

Russell B. – 10 years of experience

GOOD
The excellent roads and the higher speed limits really let you get somewhere fast.

BAD
The largest cities can be a real headache to navigate through, even on the interstates, and especially at or around rush hours. Spend a few more miles on the outer loops when possible to bypass inner cities.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
BE SURE YOUR EQUIPMENT CAN PASS DOT TESTS AND DON’T GET TICKETS. THEY ADD UP QUICK AND WILL HURT YOUR FUTURE BADLY. Be courteous to the police.

 

“Do your Pre-trip inspections”

Raul A. – 17 years of experience

GOOD
High speeds on highway between cities. Rarely find an open scale. Great weather, flat topography.

BAD
Dallas is a mess during peak hours. I-35 seems to always be under construction. Austin is a separate nightmare all together.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Keep it in between the lines. Get good sleep. Do your Pretrip inspections. I’ve been pulled over specifically for inspections. I’m not talking about scales, I’m talking on the highway.

 

“Look at big name companies”

David G. – 3 years of driving experience

GOOD
The H.O.S. are different if you stay just in Texas.

BAD
Morning and evening rush hour traffic around Houston, Austin, San Antonio are the worst in the state.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Don’t look at the small companies around here. Look at the big name companies so you will be safe and they will not ask you to forge your logs. Stay out of Laredo unless you HAVE to go there.

 

“Never give up”

Paul G. – 4 years on the road

GOOD
Some great places to site see are Eagle Ford shale and Permian basin.

BAD
In the city, it’s a whole different ball game.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
It is a good investment. You will always have work options, because a CDL driver is highly needed. Always. A lot of employees always want drivers with experience. You will find your spot. Have patience.

 

“Stay Focused”

Darrion J. – 11 years driving OTR and regional

GOOD
There are lots of jobs available, you can always find work.

BAD
Traffic and D O T

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Stay focused and safe, follow all the rules and regulations by law.

 

“Companies never tell the truth about pay and miles”

Neal H. – 10 years driving and a lot of miles

GOOD
You can feel good about being able to move freight across the country.

BAD
Traffic! Trucking companies never tell the truth about pay and miles – Beware!

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
This is hard because you are loading or unloading at real crazy times. Just try them out and find the good match for you.

 

“Make sure this is the right career for you”

Calvin C. – 1 year driving regional

GOOD
The more experience you have the more opportunities you get from companies. Great driving gets you bonuses.

BAD
Managers and supervisors who are poor at their job, trucks breaking down.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Make sure that this is really what you want as a career. This may not be for you if you can’t be away from your family. Review companies before you take the job.

 

“Are you ready for this…”

James H. – 25 years driving and almost 3 million miles

GOOD
Steady work

BAD
DOT and traffic

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Be calm, scout the road, don’t panic…

 

“Haste makes Waste”

Michael S. – About 30 years of driving experience

GOOD
You have more available work and drive time than other states

BAD
Austin and Houston traffic sucks from 7AM-10AM and 2PM-6PM.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Take your time on the road.

 

“Be patient and plan your route”

Carlos D. – 7 years in trucking

GOOD
Better pay and lifestyle

BAD
Traffic in big cities such as Dallas and Houston. Most cities get bad between 6:00AM – 8:00AM

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Avoid high traffic hours .

 

“Take time to consider what type of driving job you want”

Johnny C. – 25+ years in the industry

GOOD
While other occupations may have limited openings, there are always plenty of options for a CDL Driver to choose from.

BAD
In the DFW Metroplex the traffic remains the biggest challenge. Daily accidents mostly due to distracted drivers. CDL Drivers need to be hyper vigilant.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Patience is one skill that can not be taught, but is your greatest necessity in becoming a commercial driver. Take time in determining what type of driving job you want. Do you want to be a local driver that is home daily? Or would you prefer to have more time on the road? Also consider the needs of your family.

 

“Highways designed with transportation in mind”

Paván W. – 15 years of experience in the industry

GOOD
In TX, driving a truck can be lucrative. The options are open and the states size allows more mileage if you just want to drive in TX alone. Also, the majority of highways are designed with transportation in mind.

BAD
Tremendous growth in the state is causing traffic delays. Since the slow down of the oil and gas industry, truck drivers wages have fallen slightly.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
New driver’s need to make sure that they protect their CDLs by following rules. Also, make sure that they thoroughly check the better companies so that they aren’t underpaid. Stay professional at all times and make safety the priority.

 

“Listen to your instinct”

Howard B. – 2 years driving OTR

GOOD
Lots of mileage. Improved highways make for faster turn around time.

BAD
Construction. Lack of communication within companies.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Go slow and take your time.

 

“Take your time and be very patient”

Mark G. – 6 years on the road

GOOD
Not much traffic on TX roads, easy to get around everywhere regardless of the time of day!

BAD
Not enough gas stations with driver accommodations

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Avoid distractions and plan out your trip prior to leaving anywhere. If you have to sleep at rest stops arrive early, park in a spot where you have easy access to freeway for easy existing.

 

“Slow and steady wins the race.”

Gonzalo C. – 20 years on the road

GOOD
Less severe weather to worry about in the winter months, most of Texas is mountain free. Texas has lots of good interstates and not a lot of forced toll roads. Friendly truck stops with some of the best tacos, burgers and BBQ.

BAD
HOT summer months bad traffic through Austin, Dallas and Houston in daytime hours.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Slow is smooth and smooth is fast is something I tell my trainees. Always use an atlas to guide you in uncharted roads becaus GPS will lead you to weight restricted roads, private roads and possible areas with low overhead clearance issues.

 

“Drive carefully and anticipate the other drivers”

Ruben A. – 6 years under my belt

GOOD
Not many low bridges

BAD
City driving is tough, like going through Austin, TX

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Drive constantly checking your mirrors and anticipate the other drivers. Be courteous to others.

 

“Seek to develop yourself as a business person”

Janice P. – 9 years of driving experience

GOOD
A lot of good places to park the truck and many good food options and several places to bathe.

BAD
Traffic, rude drivers, bad road conditions

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Serve at least 1 to 2 full years under a well established trucking company, learn the road, learn the business and seek to develop yourself as a business person, not just as a driver. Seek to become truck owners and learn about brokering freight under a different business.

 

“Have lots of patience”

Arturo R. – 2.5 years of experience

GOOD
The good things about driving a truck in Texas are that there are lots of loads going in, out and passing through. That means more jobs and money. There are a lot of local jobs, so you don’t have to be away from home.

BAD
The headaches of driving in Texas are there is too much traffic in all of the major cities during rush hour. Also, there is a lot of road construction and that causes backups.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Do not take short cuts on the road or in your daily routines.

 

“Welcome, I’m proud you’re joining the team!”

Elmer R. – 16 years behind the wheel

GOOD
It’s a great job that you can grow in to.

BAD
Heavy traffic in the city

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Don’t text will driving

 

“Don’t hold up traffic!”

Robert B. – 32 years on the road, not not tired of it

GOOD
Good roads, except in oilfield areas

BAD
Dallas and Houston morning and 5 o’clock rush hour traffic is bad.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Do not drive too slow. If your truck will only run 65 miles an hour do not try to pass another 65 mile an hour truck, for you will only hold up traffic. Move out of the fueling lane after you fuel your truck. Do not throw out your trash anywhere!!!!!

 

“Research the company”

Al M. – 16 years and more on the road

GOOD
Being able to travel. Not stuck inside an office.

BAD
Rush hour traffic. Depending on city scale houses can be bad if you don’t keep a good inspection history of equipment.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Research the company. Know the pay scale. See if the company has a high driver turn over. Check with the DPS to see if the company has a bad safety record. Get all your endorsements. Don’t limit your skills to one area. Don’t be afraid to leave a company if your income is not where the employer promised. Take what you have learned and MOVE ON

 

“Get advice from driving veterans”

Eric M. – 18 years of driving experience

GOOD
The DOT aren’t as brutal as some other states. There’s plenty of road out there. You can stay intrastate and still make money. There are a lot more trucking opportunities in Texas. You don’t have to worry as much about bad winter weather other than in North Texas and the Panhandle. Even then, it’s not all that bad.

BAD
The big cities are just as big a headache as big cities anywhere else. The weather in spring and summer can sneak up on you. We have tornadoes and brutal thunderstorms that often seem to appear out of nowhere. Much like a majority of the country there is constant construction going on with almost every interstate and inside every big city.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Don’t be in a hurry to do what veteran drivers are doing. They get places quicker and make more money because they’ve been doing this for a while. Don’t give up too quickly. That’s the easy way out. Give yourself at least a year to get a feel for the job. No one was born knowing how to do this job. Talk to other drivers who have been in the game for a few years. They are a cornucopia of good advice and information. They were new at one time and someone helped them get to where they are as well.

 

“Drive safely at all times”

Eric S. – 15 years behind the wheel

GOOD
The speed limit is 70 mph, toll roads help, there are many fuel stops and fuel prices are reasonable.

BAD
Lots of construction zones and drivers aren’t very courteous.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
If you can’t do the speed limit, stay in correct lane. Always keep an eye on your surroundings and always look ahead for lane closures.

 

“If you’re tired – pull over and walk around a little bit”

Robert M. – 3 years on the road

GOOD
Courteous drivers, they will give you a chance to get in lane or will give you room to turn, they’ll even back up if need be.

BAD
Avoid Austin simply because of traffic, you will hit traffic no matter what time of day.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Be careful during the winter season, don’t take it lightly. There is extra room to stop, and if you’re tired, pull over get a coffee or a snack and walk around a little bit.

 

“Choose a Company to work for wisely”

Calvin C. – 1 year driving OTR

GOOD
You get to drive all over Texas and other states. Once you own your own truck you can work for yourself.

BAD
Traffic in large cities, tickets are expensive, too many weigh stations.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Choose a company that you would be comfortable with, take your time driving. Get plenty of rest during down time.

 

“AVOID fatty foods, they will make you feel sleepy!”

Emad F. – 5 years on the road

GOOD
Good weather most of the year, cheap fuel, truck service available with low cost, almost all bridges are over 13 ft 6 in, and a lot of work.

BAD
Rush hours in Houston area between 06:30 am until 10:30 am and 04:00 pm until 07:00 pm. Avoid I-45 north in rush hours and the SAM Houston toll way.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Start early and finish early if you’re working local. Don’t park in east side of Houston or south Dallas because high crime area.

 

“You can be your own boss”

George P. – 21 years driving reefers

GOOD
Good miles and lots of work!

BAD
Construction zones in some cities can make it difficult to get around.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Good paying job that will allow you to see new places and you can be your own boss. Just drive safely within the speed limit rest and you will do great.

 

“Keep strong this job isn’t as easy as it looks on paper. “

Christopher G. – 5.5 years of driving and counting

GOOD
Low overhead and good salary.

BAD
Irresponsible drivers. Traffic in major cities between 6:30AM-9:00AM and 4:30PM-6:00PM.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Keep calm and remember that after one’s initial OTR experience, local jobs are easier to come b

 

“Caution”

Roberto G. – 5 years of experience

GOOD
Good money.

BAD
Traffic slow in big cities. Animals sometimes in the interstate roads.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Danger. Think this decision through carefully.

 

“Stay Alert”

Reo C. – 13 years behind the wheel

GOOD
Good money and lots of great site seeing places

BAD
Bad traffic, other drivers, lots of road work

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Be patient look out for others.

 

“Drive safe and enjoy the road!”

Marcos C. – 18 years of experience

GOOD
Seeing different places and people everyday.

BAD
Texas is so big, you can’t enjoy it like you can smaller states. But it’s still nice!

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Be careful.

 

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