Is Long-Haul Trucking Right for Me? – Matrack Insight
You may have a passion for driving and look for career opportunities that offer the freedom to drive long distances on the open road. Long-haul trucking is one of the ideal ways you can fulfill your aspirations.
As a long-haul truck driver, you can travel for days or even weeks, covering long distances carrying goods and supplies across locations.
Long-haul trucking is a different experience and quite adventurous too. It involves navigating unfamiliar routes, facing new challenges, and meeting new people and places.
It may sound thrilling and ideal for someone, but long-haul trucking is not everyone’s cup of tea. Long-haul drivers cover several miles on each trip, often away from home for several weeks and spending most of the time on freeways.
To be a successful long-haul trucker, you need to be prepared and train yourself to meet the following criteria:
- You must be an excellent driver and good at navigating different types of roads.
- You must be comfortable handling different situations and adverse conditions.
- You should be capable of safely loading and unloading your cargo and determining the best way to protect your supplies.
- You must learn to assess the risks and ensure safety while reaching your destination within the schedule.
Long-haul trucking is a rewarding job involving a lot of traveling and allows you to enjoy autonomy. After reading this article, you become more aware of the lifestyle of a trucker, the challenges they face, and how to deal with the situations.
What is the Difference Between Short-Haul and Long-Haul Trucking?
Short-haul trucking involves traveling within a distance of 150 miles or less. Short-haul drivers spend most of their time traveling on local roads or city streets.
They spend a considerable time loading docks and making several cargo deliveries in a single day. They usually have a set schedule and operate in the daytime while spending nights at home.
Long-haul trucking, also known as over-the-road (OTR) movement, is generally defined as covering more than 250 miles.
Long-haul drivers must cover the distance at a stretch by mostly traveling through highways for several days. The work-life balance of long-haul trucking is challenging as truckers are required to be on the road for long periods.
What does a Long-Haul Trucker do?
Long-haul trucking has much beyond the distance traveled. It is altogether a different lifestyle and experience. Although logically defined as 250 miles, long-haul truck drivers often cover much more distances to deliver goods and cargo.
Most OTR truckers work with a dedicated fleet company that helps coordinate shipments and facilitate trucking jobs for drivers. The dispatchers take care of finding consignments and assign them across company drivers. The drivers’ responsibilities include maintaining the vehicle, optimizing fuel consumption, and adhering to compliance regulations.
Long-haul drivers are responsible for safely loading, unloading, and transporting goods. OTR truckers often need to transport loads having special considerations. For example, some shipments may have specialized transporting requirements like temperature monitoring, protection of sensitive materials, or extra safety precautions for loads.
There is another option for OTR drivers to work as owner-operators which means they own their trucks and manage operations with the help of a small team for cargo delivery.
The team of drivers can help keep the operations active by distributing the workload. The owner-operators enjoy the freedom of setting up schedules but also have to take care of the logistics, coordination, and administrative tasks.
Benefits of Long-Haul Trucking
Long-haul trucking is challenging and involves a lot of hard work and a different lifestyle, but it gives some significant benefits that you may find quite advantageous. The benefits you can enjoy are as follows:
- Stability: The smooth functioning of supply chains relies significantly on long-haul truck drivers, and demand for good drivers is increasing. Drivers can find a more stable career and face less competition in this field.
- Financial security: Long-haul trucking can provide you the opportunity to earn a hefty salary and get regular increases along with different bonuses.
- Flexibility: Long-haul truckers enjoy more flexibility in managing their plan. Companies allow drivers to decide their schedules and make contracts accordingly, to determine an agreed timeline.
- Travel: Many drivers consider the opportunity to travel to places is among the top benefits. For those passionate about exploring new places and routes while enjoying beauty and diversity, this job is an ideal profession.
- Benefits: Most companies offer a variety of benefits to their long-distance drivers, including health and accident insurance and paid vacation.
Challenges Faced by Long-Haul Trucking Drivers
The advantages of long-haul trucking also come with several challenges. Before deciding on this career, ensure you know the challenges and are equipped with solutions to address them effectively.
Fuel prices are increasing, so trucks must operate with better fuel efficiency. The fuel market is also pretty uncertain, making it difficult to budget for actual costs that cut into your profits.
The best way is to drive more efficiently and avoid unnecessary or inefficient fuel consumption. You need to optimize travel routes and minimize idling time to reduce fuel consumption.
Fleet management solutions enable operators to use technical tools that keep track of every transaction for fuel purchase and help restrict unnecessary or unauthorized expenses. It also guides drivers with routing recommendations to save fuel and time.
Hours of Service (HoS) Compliance
These are regulations and guidelines introduced to help OTR truck drivers manage their duty hours, intending to reduce fatigue, prevent accidents, and work more efficiently.
HoS rules govern how many hours truckers can drive at a time and the length of rest periods between trips. It is necessary to understand the rules, which are as follows:
- A 30-minute break after eight hours of driving
- An off-duty of 10 hours after 11 hours of driving
- Drive not more than 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days.
- After 60 or 70 hours of driving, the driver must take off for at least 34 hours.
Apart from the above, it becomes mandatory for trucks to use electronic logging devices (ELD) that track and record vehicle activity like engine performance, downtime, technical issues, etc. This system confirms that drivers comply with HOS regulations and ensure safety in operations.
There is a possibility of rejection of shipments due to different reasons, which are as follows:
- Temperature range: One of the most common reasons includes temperature-controlled goods found spoiled on arrival. For example, maintaining the freshness of food products at a controlled temperature during transit is serious business.
If goods are not in good condition due to the trucker failing to maintain the acceptable temperature range, it becomes unacceptable to the customer.
- Delayed delivery: Delayed deliveries also cause shipment rejections. Many retail outlets operate on tight schedules, so a delay could negatively impact their business, and they can reject shipments for late deliveries.
- Damaged goods: Some deliveries require products in specific packaging conditions. In the event of any damage due to shifting, fall, or tearing, the customer may refuse to accept the consignment.
The rejection of shipment results in considerable financial loss, so drivers must take all necessary measures during loading, unloading, and transit to avoid any damage to the items and reduce the chances of rejections. The drivers need to optimize their routes to avoid delays and downtime and ensure delivery of consignment within the time frame.
Maintaining the Vehicle
Vehicles used for the long haul must go through ongoing maintenance to take care of technical issues to ensure that the chances of a sudden breakdown are less.
It is a challenge for long-haul truckers to manage the time and carry out scheduled maintenance to ensure the good running condition of the trucks.
You may also require finding out the nearest service station along unfamiliar routes if any technical snag appears during transit.
Modern tools and techniques help deal with all the challenges faced in long-haul trucking. The fleet management solutions based on GPS-enabled and AI-powered technology provide various facilities to truck drivers and owner-operators, improving efficiency, safety, and compliance. The GPS tracking solutions by Matrack help to resolve issues in the following way.
- Reduced travel time: The GPS tracking system helps identify the best-suited routes for vehicles that save time and fuel by avoiding traffic congestion and disruptions. Matrack tracking technology ensures efficient truck operations by reducing transit time and reaching the destination earlier.
- Control fuel cost: The GPS tools allow you to track the vehicle’s location, speed, mileage, and driving performance, helping to make informed decisions towards improving fuel efficiency and reducing fuel cost. The Matrack fuel cards enable you to track fuel purchase frequency and control unnecessary or unapproved expenses.
- Compliance with regulations: The Matrack ELD system allows maintaining all records to fulfill compliance formalities. It ensures safety, improves driving standards, and minimizes the chances of violations and accidents.
- Maintenance of vehicle: The tracking technology monitors engine performance and identifies technical issues to help you take prompt actions to keep trucks in good condition, avoiding chances of breakdown and repairs.
Long-haul trucking is a specialized activity requiring long hours on the road, away from home. But it also gives you the freedom to decide your schedule and the opportunity to improve your earnings in a growing market. Various challenges are there, but with the help of advanced technical support and resources, you can establish yourself as a successful driver for long-haul trucking.