What is the Difference Between Over the Road Trucking and Local Trucking?

  • What is the Difference Between Over the Road Trucking and Local Trucking?

    What is the Difference Between Over the Road Trucking and Local Trucking?

    What Is the Difference Between Over the Road Trucking and Local Trucking?

    If you’re interested in becoming a truck driver, you may be curious about the differences between over the road and local trucking.

    Each type of route a driver can make offers a variety of different experiences. Different routes allow drivers to navigate diverse environments such as the scenic open highways of the Midwest, hometown roads of local communities, and even bustling cities. Two types of CDL driving are over the road and local.

    What Is Over the Road Trucking vs. Local Trucking?

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

    Drivers may be away from home for several nights, or even weeks at a time. Most commonly a CDL Class A license is required for this type of driving. Trucks used for over the road trucking are specially outfitted for driving long distances. They often include a place for the driver to rest called a sleeper berth, and maybe even other amenities like a small refrigerator, television, and even a closet or drawers to store clothing and other personal items while on the road.

    Local trucking, also known as short haul trucking can typically mean that the driver will be hauling equipment or materials for a certain job. These routes can sometimes be limited to same state and often do not exceed a 150-mile radius. That means that the driver can be home most, if not all nights. Local driving may include delivery and dedicated driving positions. Dedicated driving positions involve a driver working specifically for a certain area or company, meaning drivers may have a sense of their route, truck weight, and destination in advance.

    Depending on the type of truck, a CDL Class A or Class B license would be used for local driving.

    What Benefits Do OTR and Local Routes Offer?

    Some drivers feel that over the road trucking gives them the feeling of freedom, and a chance to see more of the country. With more time spent on the road, drivers can be driving solo and periodically checking in with their dispatcher, so there can be less feeling of a boss over their shoulder.

    OTR trucking can give the chance for national travel, enabling drivers to see the U.S. from a truck cab and experience different perspectives/cultures by traveling across the lower 48 states of United States. Talk about an office with a view! Long haul routes may come different options and a varied schedule as drivers may be in different parts of the country every week.

    On the other hand, local trucking may allow drivers to be home every night, which can be something that drivers with families want. This trucking option may provide a more regular schedule and allow the driver to have less of the unexpected.

    Local trucking usually keeps drivers closer to home and can offer a fairly regular routine. Some drivers think that driving in familiar territory can be easier than taking on new routes.

    Does the Equipment Vary Between Over the Road and Local Trucking?

    Common vehicles for OTR truck routes may include tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations (double and triple trailers), tractor-trailer buses, tanker vehicles, livestock carriers, and flatbeds.

    Common vehicles for local routes may include straight trucks, large buses (city buses, tourist buses, and school buses), segmented buses, box trucks (delivery trucks, couriers, and furniture delivery trucks), and dump trucks with small trailers.


    One first step to finding out more about becoming a truck driver, whether you’re thinking about over the road trucking routes or local routes, is training for your CDL license. At NETTTS, students can study Class A and Class B CDL programs before entering the trucking industry. Contact NETTTS to learn how to enroll.

    Mike Demars

    Mike Demars

    Mike Demars is a 28-year trucking veteran, as well as a graduate of New England Tractor Trailer Training School with well over a million miles logged on the road. Prior to being the Regional Director of Safety & Training for our Connecticut locations, Mike spent over a decade on the road as an owner/operator of a long haul transportation company and previously managed drivers as a Driver Manager and Safety Director. He has achieved the level of Master Instructor and holds his certificate in Collision Avoidance, and is often sought as an industry expert to discuss practices within the field and to testify in transportation and trucking matters.

    Comments (2)

    • Jason
      • Jason
      • June 30, 2019 at 1:00 am

      Plain and simple most local truck driving jobs get you home every night exhausted and you are lucky to spend one hour with your family which usually includes your meal and shower time.then you are lucky to get 3 hours sleep before you have to be back at the terminal to do it all again.you typically have to go in and rotate customer stocks and deal with it returns in their complaints in blah blah blah and then be expected to drive through heavily populated areas safely in mostly heavy traffic.


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