The Day-to-Day Life of an OTR Driver

If you are interested in becoming a truck driver, it’s likely you’re interested in an over-the-road (OTR) job. This is the most common type of trucking career that commercial driver’s license (CDL) students pursue. OTR drivers can earn more than $69,000 a year* in addition to enjoying the freedom of the open road. The trucking lifestyle is different from other types of jobs and it can be helpful to know what to expect if you are planning to enter this industry.

Here is some information about the day-to-day life of an OTR trucker:

Morning Routine

Long-haul drivers sleep in their semi-trucks and often wake up early in the morning. This is because parking at truck stops fills up early and it’s helpful to beat the traffic by starting the day early. At this point, drivers can either eat breakfast that they’ve prepared ahead of time and kept in their truck, or they may get a quick bite at the truck stop. Some truckers will shower in the morning, whereas others prefer the end of the day.

Pre-Trip Inspection

Before hitting the road, it’s necessary to perform a pre-trip inspection. This involves checking the interior and exterior of the vehicle for any issues that could impact safety. Completing a pre-trip inspection is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirement and must be documented each day a driver is hauling freight.


The bulk of an OTR trucker’s day is spent driving. The daily limit is 11 hours of driving and this must include a 30-minute break. Rules for driving and on-duty time are known as hours of service (HOS) regulations and are set by the FMCSA. Drivers must track their HOS with an electronic logging device (ELD).

Stopping For the Night

In order to find parking, many drivers shut down for the day by the early evening. A 10-hour rest period is required under the FMCSA’s HOS regulations. Before going to sleep, truckers may prepare or purchase dinner, enjoy their hobbies, or chat with their family and friends back home.


The daily schedule of a trucker will look different if there is a drop-off involved. Depending on the type of freight and the customer receiving it, this may be a drop-and-hook or a live load. For drop-and-hook shipments, the whole trailer is dropped off and a new, empty trailer is picked up. In the case of live loads, the driver will wait at the loading dock while the receiver unloads the trailer. The time that a driver needs to arrive at the customer will usually be scheduled and may include a window during which they can arrive.

Start Your Career as an OTR Trucker

If you love driving and want to see more of the country while earning competitive pay, trucking may be a great career for you. Phoenix Truck Driving Institute can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and get started in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about how to become an OTR driver, contact us today.


Is an LTL Job Right for You?

After earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), there’s a wide range of different jobs that might interest you.

In most cases, over-the-road (OTR) trucking is the first one that comes to mind. It’s what most people think of when they think of CDL jobs. OTR involves longer times on the road, but features the freedom, excitement, and variety that come with this type of career, making it a great fit for CDL school graduates.

However, some new drivers are looking for more predictability. In these cases, less-than-truckload (LTL) might be a better fit. An LTL job has different responsibilities than OTR and if you’re looking for a different way to use your license, you might want to consider this field.

What is LTL Trucking?

OTR truck drivers usually make a range of one to a few stops per haul, traveling long distances to deliver goods and materials. OTR customers usually have full or nearly full truckloads they need transported.

For LTL, customers get the same truck, but only pay for part of the space. This means multiple clients split the cost of an entire trailer space. Drivers bring the freight to terminals and the freight is sorted. It continues to travel between terminals and checkpoints until it reaches its destination.

Types of LTL Jobs

There are two types of jobs under the LTL umbrella.

Linehaul drivers are responsible for taking the freight from terminal to terminal. This is usually the same route every time. The length of the drive varies and some linehaul truckers are home every night whereas others may spend more time out on the road.

Pickup and delivery (P&D) drivers pick up freight from the terminal and take it to the customer, or vice versa. P&D jobs will typically get a driver home nightly and involve a lot of city driving and multiple stops each day.

3 Signs You Should Choose an LTL Job

You Prefer a Reliable Schedule

OTR trucking can be exciting, but part of this excitement is that it is more variable. LTL jobs, whether they are linehaul or P&D, come with more predictability. You will get to know the route(s) you travel and the people you typically interact with. Pay may also be more consistent from week to week, although regional jobs often pay less than OTR overall.

You Want to Stay Close to Home

A P&D job can get you home every night and even longer linehaul routes will usually get you more home time than OTR. If you prefer to stay close to your friends and family, LTL may be a good fit. However, it is important to consider the companies you are interested in and their actual home time policies rather than relying on general trends.

You Don’t Mind Night Driving or City Driving

For linehaul jobs, drivers often need to drive at night. For P&D jobs, you are more likely to drive during the day, but may need to navigate areas with more traffic such as cities. If you are interested in an LTL career, you will need to be comfortable with one or both driving circumstances. Starting with an OTR job may be helpful to get experience if you’re not as confident in these skills.

Start Your Trucking Career

Whether you are interested in LTL, OTR, or another type of CDL job, Phoenix Truck Driving Institute can help you get started. We offer job placement assistance for our graduates and can help you get on the road and earning in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about our CDL training in Phoenix, AZ, contact us today.