What Is OTR Truck Driving?

OTR truck driving, or over-the-road truck driving, is a term used to describe truckers who transport goods over long distances. It can include all types of freight, from heavy load, machinery, flatbeds, and other equipment.

Over-the-Road driving is not for everyone, as it requires specialization in hauling freight over long distances, and it usually means being on the road for 2-3 weeks at a time. Sleeping in the truck, irregular sleep schedule, and a long time away from home are all part of the OTR lifestyle.

However, with OTR comes the possibility to travel the states, as well as a reasonably competitive paycheck. 

OTR Trucking Is One of the Most In-Demand Trucking Jobs

As mentioned in our introduction, OTR requires a “special set of skills” and sacrifices that not a lot of truckers can do. These prerequisites make the job highly in-demand, and the paycheck quite high.

The combination of traveling all over the states, and the high pay, make OTR an ideal job for people who want to visit different parts of the country while making money.

Life as an OTR Truck Driver

It is essential to mention that OTR is the starting career for most truck drivers. It takes about 1-2 years of OTR driving before taking a regional or local truck driving job.

Therefore, as a beginner truck driver, driving OTR is not much of a choice but a must.

The average days spent on the road for OTR drivers are around 300, with 70+ hours logged in each week. 

On the bright side, it is 300 days spent on viewing the countryside, suburban areas of many cities, and just experiencing how life is in different parts of the U.S.

What an OTR Driver Does After the End of the Day

It is not unusual for an OTR driver to park their truck at an interstate exit and sleep in the berth. However, all is not that grim, as the berths are designed to be comfortable. When the driver gets the chance, though, they can rest at a rest stop or a truck stop. 

OTR Job Requirements

Since OTR means interstate travel, the minimum age a driver has to be is 21. As with all trucking jobs, the driver can drive up to 14 hours per day on the road (but must rest for 10 hours to be able to drive again), and OTR usually means several hundred miles driven per day. 

Adaptation Skills

The OTR driver often sleeps in their berth, which is a built-in bed inside the truck. It is a requirement to frequently adjust the sleep schedule to match times when roads are less occupied. 

A seasoned OTR driver checks the weather alerts each day to see for weather changes and checks road alerts to see if there will be issues on the planned route, and makes adjustments accordingly. Since most OTR jobs are time-sensitive and have deadlines, the driver has to keep themselves informed if they are to make it on time.

Mechanical Skills

Although not essential, a good OTR driver knows how to fix their rig. Anything can happen on the road, and if the truck breaks miles away from, or entirely outside, AAA range, it will result in less time on the road.

CDL License

To be eligible to drive over-the-road, one must have a “Class A” CDL (Commercial Driver’s Licence). 

Other requirements include strong time management skills (which are crucial for making the haul on time), loading and unloading of heavy freight, and reliable inventory management skills.

OTR Driver Responsibilities

Below are the responsibilities of an OTR driver to:

  • Safely transport their freight
  • Inspect their truck before and after trips to ensure everything is in working order
  • Make plans before the trip to make sure they meet deadlines (and to adjust the plan accordingly during the trip)
  • Perform repeatable maintenance tasks, such as oil change, tire pressure checks, coolant checks, and minor repairs
  • Log the hours, rests, mileage, and expenses
  • Report any violations and damages
  • Send a notice for every delay
  • Occasionally, assist during loading and unloading

OTR Job Types

There are two main types of OTR jobs – live load and drop-and-hook. Live loads, as their name suggests, means the driver loads the truck, and drop-and-hook involves attaching a trailer to the tractor and going your way.

Drop-and-hook hauls are way faster, and they always bring more mileage for the time spent on the job. Since the trucking industry standard is mostly CPM (cost-per-mile), the amount of time spent on the road means more money.

How Much do OTR Drivers Make?

Recent data shows that OTR drivers make $0.44-$0.58 per mile, and drive around 3,000 miles per week. To make a comparison, regional drivers make from $0.37-$0.55 per mile and drive up to 2,800 miles per week. When put to the $50k-$60k average salary benchmark, OTR is way up there with the highest paid trucking jobs, starting from $60k and above.

Is OTR Truck Driving Considered a Secure Job?

Since truck driving, in general, is considered a very secure industry to work in, OTR is even more so, as the demand for OTR drivers is very high.

OTR Truck Driving Jobs

Check out our OTR truck driving jobs, apply, and get ready to roll out!