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.


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