What Does OTR Mean in Trucking? (2023)

What Does OTR Mean in Trucking?

So, what exactly is over the road trucking? It’s a form of trucking that involves transporting freight over hundreds or even thousands of miles, often crossing state lines and national borders. While most short-haul truckers drive up to 250 miles and are typically home by the evening, OTR truckers can drive thousands of miles and spend days, weeks, or even months at a time on the road.

(Video) “ Pros & Cons” Of OTR Vs. Regional VS. Local Trucking!! (Which One??)

An over the road truck driver might haul vehicles, consumer goods, heavy machinery, construction, manufacturing materials, or food. Some even transport hazardous materials or dry bulk goods in tankers. Essentially, an over the road driver can handle anything that needs to be transported by land.

Given how long trips can take and how lonely it can get on the road, some OTR drivers pair off to form teams. Not only can having a partner keep the loneliness at bay, but it’s also a very practical decision. Since the drivers will be able to operate in shifts, they can comply with driving regulations without sacrificing time on the road.

OTR Trucking in Context: The First-Mile, Middle-Mile, and Last-Mile

While the focus of this piece is on OTR trucking itself, understanding OTR means understanding its context. OTR trucking is just one portion of the larger logistics industry. In fact, logistics are broken into three key segments: first-mile, middle-mile, and last-mile logistics. Let’s take a closer look at each of these segments:

First-mile logistics: This is the first stage of the logistics process where goods are transferred from the manufacturer to the distribution center or warehouse. Products can originate from anywhere in the world. No matter where they begin, wherever the products go next is considered the first mile.

Middle-mile logistics: OTR trucking is part of the middle mile, or the stage where goods are transferred from warehouses and distribution centers to fulfillment or storage facilities. While the length of time of the middle mile can vary greatly depending on the origin and destination of the shipment, the importance of this section is always the same.

(Video) Regional Truck Driving vs OTR | MUST SEE

Last-mile logistics: The final stage of the logistics process is the last mile, where goods are transferred from fulfillment facilities, like retail stores or transportation hubs, to the final delivery destination, typically a consumer’s hands. The goal of this stage is speed, as anyone who’s ever ordered a product with same or next-day delivery knows all too well.

How Much Do OTR Truck Drivers Make?

Over the road trucking companies are always looking for new drivers — especially in today’s trucking shortage — and they pay accordingly. Compared to other trucking jobs, OTR driver jobs typically offer a higher salary, though the exact amount can vary depending on years of experience, routes, types of loads, and more.

The average salary for an OTR truck driver is $56,418 per year, and the median is $56,000, according to PayScale. However, some OTR drivers make as little as $38,000 per year, while others make $79,000 or more per year. Typically, those with more experience and certain endorsements make salaries towards the top of the range.

What Is the Difference Between OTR vs. Regional vs. Dedicated?

It’s important to note that, although OTR, regional, and dedicated truck drivers can all haul similar types of loads, they aren’t the same.

As mentioned, OTR truck drivers haul freight over long distances and, as a result, spend a lot of time on the road. However, local truck drivers, or short-haul truck drivers, typically deliver loads within a 200-250 square mile radius. Sometimes this can mean crossing state lines, and it often requires traveling on smaller, local roads instead of the highway or driving a smaller truck and making multiple stops along your route to drop off goods. Many local truck driver companies require their drivers to have a year or more of CDL driving experience due to the challenges of navigating smaller roads and backing into tight loading docks several times each day. Drivers are generally home within 8-10 hours, making it an excellent option for those with families. However, it pays less than regional and OTR trucking.

(Video) Local vs Dedicated vs Regional vs Longhaul (OTR): Pros and Cons of Each (Hometime, Pay, Workload)

Regional truck drivers fall somewhere in between local and OTR truck drivers. A regional truck driver will only operate in a specific part of the country and typically within a 1,000-mile radius. For example, a regional driver might only pick up and deliver loads in the Northeast or the Midwest.

Compared to OTR trucking, regional driving pays less. However, the tradeoff is worth it for many drivers, as they can spend more time at home with their families while making more money than they would as a local truck driver. Plus, time off for many regional routes coincides with the weekends.

There are also dedicated truck drivers who regularly deliver for the same company or follow the same route. As a result, a dedicated truck driver will become quite familiar with their routes, their schedules, and the people who work at the pickup and drop-off locations.

How to Become an OTR Truck Driver

The first step to becoming an OTR truck driver is earning your commercial driver’s license, or CDL. Without one, you won’t be able to legally operate large and heavy vehicles in commerce.

Each state has slightly different licensing processes, but you’ll need to pass a written test and a practical driving test regardless of your location. To prepare, consult and study your state’s CDL handbook. If you need more structure to learn effectively, you can also attend a trucking school and take a CDL course.

(Video) Ep. #20 - Home Time Explained

However, all CDLs are not created equal. There are actually three different classes of CDLs, including:

  • Class A CDLs: The Class A CDL is the most common type of CDL. You’ll need a Class A CDL if you want to drive a truck with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more if the towed vehicle is heavier than 10,000 pounds. Once you have your Class A CDL, you can operate flatbeds, tractor-trailers, tractor-trailer buses, tanker vehicles, semi-trucks with flatbed trailers, and livestock carriers. With a Class A CDL, you’ll also be able to operate most Class B and C vehicles.
  • Class B CDLs: A Class B CDL is required to drive a vehicle that isn’t hitched to a trailer and has a combined weight greater than 26,001 pounds or more. Once you have your Class B CDL, you can operate straight trucks, box trucks, tractor-trailers, dump trucks with small trailers, and a variety of passenger buses. However, if you’re planning to tow something, the trailer must have a gross vehicle rating below 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C CDLs: If you plan to operate a single vehicle with a GCWR of fewer than 26,001 lbs, tow another vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 pounds, or transport hazardous material, you’ll need a Class C CDL. With your Class C CDL, you can operate passenger vans, small trucks while towing a trailer, and small trucks with HAZMAT (if you have the proper endorsement.)

You’ll need to pass a CDL HAZMAT written knowledge test to transport hazardous materials to gain your H endorsement. Other CDL endorsements include:

  • The N Endorsement: This will enable you to drive a tanker vehicle and transport liquids and gasses.
  • The T Endorsement: This endorsement will allow you to drive a double or triple trailer.
  • The X Endorsement: The X Endorsement will permit you to operate a vehicle with hazardous materials in a tank.

The Challenges of Being an OTR Trucker

Once you’ve earned all the necessary licenses, it’s time to become an OTR driver! However, life as an OTR trucker isn’t easy. Not only will you need to sacrifice spending time at home to spend several days driving across the country, but you’ll likely face terrible weather, traffic jams, and limited food options out on the road. Other challenges of OTR trucking include:

  • Hours of Service (HOS) Rules: HOS rules were initially introduced in the 1930s, though they’ve changed a little over the years. According to current HOS rules, you can’t drive over 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty and can’t drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty. You must also take a 30-minute driving break after 8 cumulative hours of driving and can’t drive for over 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. If you hit these limits, you will need to wait for your hours to drop off or spend 34 hours off duty. To more strictly enforce HOS rules, the U.S. federal government enacted an electronic logging device (ELD) mandate in December of 2019. All carriers and drivers must use ELDs to record their driving hours.
  • Lengthy Detentions: As an OTR truck driver, you’ll also often experience delays when picking up or delivering loads. These detentions typically take two to two-and-a-half hours but can occasionally last longer and throw a wrench in your schedule.
  • Poor Infrastructure: Unfortunately, much of the U.S.’ infrastructure is aging and in poor condition, which can make driving across the country difficult. 65% of major U.S. roads are in ‘less than good condition,’ according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. It’s also worth noting that 42% of bridges in the U.S. are 50 years old — or older! —and 46,154 bridges are currently structurally deficient.
  • High levels of stress: Spending so much time on the road and away from your family can be stressful as you figure out how to balance your personal life with such a time-consuming job. On top of that, you’ll need to deal with poor weather and visibility, construction, traffic jams, tight deadlines, and more.
  • Physical health issues: Plus, OTR trucking is stressful on the body. Not only will you spend days —or even weeks — on the road at a time, but you’ll also likely spend that time sleeping in your truck’s cabin or motels and picking up fast food from rest stops. While being an OTR trucker involves a lot of travel, it’s a very sedentary job and, as a result, can result in health complications. Compared to the national working population, long-haul truckers are more likely to report having diabetes and are more than twice as likely to be obese (69% vs. 31%) or have morbid obesity (17% vs. 7%).

Find Success as an OTR Trucker With DAT’s Help

While having a good OTR load board won’t solve all of your problems, it can help you locate OTR truck driving jobs headed to destinations you’d like to end up in, save you time, and help you find high-paying OTR loads to maximize your profits.

DAT’s load boards are easy to use and navigate, so you can quickly find and secure the loads you want. Plus, you won’t have to constantly refresh your page for fear of missing out on top-paying OTR trucking jobs. Just set your customized alarms and wait for a notification from us. You can even access our load boards while you’re on the go with our mobile app.

(Video) How does PER DIEM PAY work? | WERNER TRUCKING | OTR Truck Driver Explains | Let's Talk MONEY!

Not only is our load board updated in real time, but it’s also the largest load board in the industry. Nearly 1 million loads are posted to the DAT load board each day, so you can easily find a load that suits your needs, regardless of your vehicle or trailer type. And over 357,000 daily loads are exclusively posted to DAT, giving you the edge over the competition.

At DAT, we know that every business is different, so we offer several subscription plans. With our standard plan, you’ll be able to post your truck and comb through DAT’s load boards to find the perfect loads. However, if you need more tools, you might be better off with our enhanced or professional plans. When you upgrade, you’ll receive features like intelligent triangle routing suggestions to maximize your time on the road and average lane rates based on real transactions to improve your negotiations.

So, whether you’re just starting as an OTR driver or already managing a large OTR fleet, DAT has you covered.


What does OTR mean for trucking? ›

Over the Road

OTR driving is the most common job for new truck drivers. Many times, it is the way drivers gain the experience needed to move on to other jobs. While OTR drivers haul similar freight as regional drivers, the main difference is the number of miles these drivers travel to make these deliveries.

How does OTR work? ›

OTR stands for “over-the-road” and it is just another way of saying long-haul trucking. It's not uncommon for OTR drivers to spend days or even weeks on the road without returning home. OTR drivers can go all over the country, and even into Canada, hauling goods.

Is OTR trucking hard? ›

Over-the-road trucking can be challenging. It means being on the road for several days at a time, so many OTR drivers consider it a lifestyle. But with the right attitude, you can earn a good living as an OTR driver.

What does Class A OTR mean? ›

OTR is an acronym for over the road and refers to a long haul trucking run. This means that the driver will typically spend weeks on the road and get paid on a per mile basis.

How many miles is considered OTR? ›

Over the Road trucking, also known as long haul trucking, can be abbreviated as OTR. This type of driving can span across the continental United States and beyond. These routes may often be trips of 250 miles, or more. Some long haul truckers may drive upwards of 100,000 miles per year or more as an OTR trucker.

What are the duties of OTR driver? ›

OTR drivers transport various goods, chemicals, and equipment over long distances. They secure cargo to prevent damages during transportation, maintain detailed records of the number of hours traveled, mileage covered, and rest periods, as well as assist in the loading and unloading of cargo.

How often do OTR truck drivers come home? ›

When working on an OTR schedule, you will get to go home once every 3 weeks or so. That kind of work schedule can be rough on relationships or lifelong partnerships.

How many miles can an OTR driver drive in a day? ›

The main rule is that truckers can drive only 11 hours per day, according to the Hours of Service regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Most trucks are set to 65-70 miles per hour. When we do the math the amount comes to 605 to 650 average miles per day.

How do I become a successful OTR driver? ›

Top tips for becoming a successful truck driver
  1. Put safety first. ...
  2. Always do your pre-trip inspection. ...
  3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. ...
  4. Be prepared for anything. ...
  5. Stay open to feedback. ...
  6. Take trip planning seriously. ...
  7. Manage your time wisely. ...
  8. Keep your cab clean and organized.
Dec 16, 2021

How hard is the first year of trucking? ›

The First Year is the Toughest

There is no doubt it, your first year as a truck driver is going to be the hardest one. You'll be making lots of adjustments like getting accustomed to the job, getting familiar with the truck you drive, utilizing your new driving skills and getting accustomed to the lifestyle.

How long are OTR truckers away from home? ›

Long Periods Away From Home

Long trips for the trucker can be anywhere from a week up until three weeks, and even longer. Once the driver is on the road, some companies will keep them out, doing continuous trips. Some drivers don't get home for months. This is very difficult for the trucker and his family.

Is being an OTR worth it? ›

Good income

Truck drivers can earn a good income. How much does a truck driver make? On average drivers earn $50,909, while Over The Road (OTR) drivers who haul freight over long distances earn on average nearly $64,000 per year.

What are truck drivers called? ›

A truck driver (commonly referred to as a trucker, teamster, or driver in the United States and Canada; a truckie in Australia and New Zealand; a HGV driver in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the European Union, a lorry driver, or driver in the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia and Singapore) is ...

How many hours can a local truck driver work? ›

Drivers are allowed to extend the 10-hour maximum driving time and 15-hour on-duty limit by up to 2 hours when adverse driving conditions are encountered.

What is OTR vs LTL? ›

Whereas OTR loads are generally for one or only a few customers and move large distances all at once, LTL loads involve several smaller portions of freight from different sources. LTL gets its name from the fact that each customer has less than a full truckload of freight that needs to be delivered.

How many hours can a truck driver drive per week? ›

Working two consecutive weeks is also where drivers have their hours on the road throttled by law. An HGV driver may not exceed 90-hours over two consecutive weeks. This means, if they work the maximum 56 hours in the first week, they can only drive a maximum of 34 hours the following week.

How many miles can you drive over the limit? ›

It varies, but sometimes, when overtaking another car, you are allowed to exceed the speed limit by 10-15 mph. Typically, this applies to two-lane highways where the posted speed limit is 55 mph or higher. Some states that allow this are Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Washington.

How do I count my trucking miles? ›

To calculate your cost per mile, simply divide your total expenses for the month by the total number of miles you have driven that month. For example, if your expenses totaled $3,000 and you drove 10,000 miles, your cost per mile is $0.30.

How many miles do OTR drivers drive a week? ›

Well you can expect anywhere from 2200-3200 miles per week and it will depend on a ton of different factors. But what I'm guessing is you're trying to figure out how much you'll make. Those are pretty good numbers you can go by. But trucking is very performance-based.

What are 3 responsibilities of a driver? ›

Common duties and responsibilities for drivers are to:
  • Transport clients and/or packages to and from destinations.
  • Arrive at destinations on schedule.
  • Fulfill administrative needs, like office pickups.
  • Research and plan for traffic, construction and weather delays.
  • Use navigation applications to determine the best route.
Dec 10, 2022

How do OTR truck drivers save money? ›

Truck Driver Budgeting Tips: 5 Ways to Save Money While on the...
  1. Keep a Budget. The first and best budgeting tip is to keep track of your money. ...
  2. Plan Efficient Routes. This can go a long way to saving money as a truck driver. ...
  3. Plan Well & Be Prepared. ...
  4. Participate in Loyalty Programs. ...
  5. Use Free WiFi.
May 13, 2022

Which state pays truckers the most? ›

Highest-Paid Truck Drivers By State
RankStateAverage Truck Driver Salary
2Rhode Island$70,834
4New Jersey$70,043
46 more rows
Aug 2, 2022

How many truck drivers are quitting? ›

The trucking industry has a turnover rate that hovers around 90%, which means that a year from today, 90% of currently employed truck drivers won't be in those jobs anymore.

How much free time do truck drivers have? ›

You'll drive no more than 11 hours a day with at least a ten-hour break between drives. You'll get “home time” about once every three weeks. As a general rule, OTR drivers need to have at least a full 34 hours off after 70 hours of driving. The 70 hours is usually done over eight days.

Is OTR trucking worth it? ›

Good income

Truck drivers can earn a good income. How much does a truck driver make? On average drivers earn $50,909, while Over The Road (OTR) drivers who haul freight over long distances earn on average nearly $64,000 per year.

What OTR trucking company pays the most? ›

What OTR Trucking Companies Pays the Most? GP Transco drivers make the most of any OTR truck drivers.

What is the best OTR trucking company to work for? ›

Let's now see 10 of the best over the road companies in the US.
  1. Walmart. Working at Walmart as an OTR truck driver is dream for many who aspire to build an awesome career in trucking. ...
  2. Schneider. ...
  3. Roehl. ...
  4. Prime Inc. ...
  5. XPO Logistics. ...
  6. Freightech. ...
  7. PTL. ...
  8. PAM Transport.
Nov 3, 2021

Do truck drivers sleep in their trucks? ›

If you look at a truck that transports goods over the road (OTR), you will notice that there is a small room or compartment just behind the driver's seat. This is the sleeper cab where the driver rests. The truck driver sleeper cab is well-equipped with all the necessities for a comfortable sleep.


1. How is Regional Truck driving? My answer will surprise some of you
(Married to Freight)
2. I’ve done all 3…Which one do I prefer 🤔? Comparing OTR, LOCAL, & REGIONAL Trucking
(Niesha K)
3. 20+ Trucker Must-Haves for the OTR Truck Driver
(Trucker Jim)
4. OTR VS. Local | The great debate
5. Trucking: Why You Need a Factoring Company | Factoring Explained in 5 Minutes
(Trucking From Scratch)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Twana Towne Ret

Last Updated: 10/11/2023

Views: 5513

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (64 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Twana Towne Ret

Birthday: 1994-03-19

Address: Apt. 990 97439 Corwin Motorway, Port Eliseoburgh, NM 99144-2618

Phone: +5958753152963

Job: National Specialist

Hobby: Kayaking, Photography, Skydiving, Embroidery, Leather crafting, Orienteering, Cooking

Introduction: My name is Twana Towne Ret, I am a famous, talented, joyous, perfect, powerful, inquisitive, lovely person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.