If you’re looking to make a change in your trucking career, there’s never been a better time to do so. Like in many fields and industries today, the job market is very much an employee’s market.
Truckers are in high demand and many drivers are aging out of the industry, providing plenty of new opportunities for experienced drivers and entry-level drivers alike. It’s easier now than ever to find new positions and new carriers that will work better for you than your current employer.
Like many people planning their next career move, you may be looking for a trucking job that will help you prioritize work-life balance and time spent at home with your family and loved ones. In that case, you’ve probably started wondering if regional trucking is right for you.
Regional trucking is a middle ground between OTR (over-the-road) trucking and local trucking that can offer a flexible trucking career with better work-life balance than OTR. Read on to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of regional trucking and see if it’s right for you:
What is regional trucking?
Regional truckers, in contrast to OTR truckers, drive throughout a certain portion of the country (southwestern United States, northeastern US, midwest, etc.) instead of driving cross-country.
Regional trucking, also known as short haul trucking, has a smaller operational area and there are fewer miles logged per trip. Generally, regional trucking operates within 250 to 500 miles of the home terminal, as opposed to local trucking, which usually does not take drivers much further than 100-150 miles away.
Regional trucking often includes delivering shipments of commercial products to factories, warehouses, and retail outlets across a predetermined route within your state or across adjacent states.
What are the benefits of regional trucking compared to OTR?
The benefits and drawbacks of regional trucking and short haul trucking depend on what you’re looking to get out of your trucking career. Deciding whether regional truck driving is right for you is a matter of deciding what you want out of life.
Some of the benefits of regional trucking compared to OTR trucking include:
Regional offers more time at home
One of the most appealing aspects of regional trucking is the schedule. A smaller operational area around the home terminal means you stay closer to home and each individual trip is shorter.
Compared with OTR, regional truckers usually work a five-day week and can return home on weekends, rather than taking multiple weeks away from home.
Conversely, the schedule and shorter travel time also means more modest pay for logging fewer miles and less extended time off available.
On average, short haul trucking jobs pay about 20% less than long haul work—if a long haul trucker makes around $80,000 per year, for example, a short haul trucker will generally end up making around $66,000.
In addition, regional trucking still offers very long days, with early starts and late ends. And the lower pay also means that many regional truck drivers won’t take advantage of the increased time at home and instead will take up more work on the weekends to make more money.
Short haul trucking keeps you in less stressful, familiar territory
Trucking in the region within 500 miles of your home means you’re never more than a few days away from home. You likely already know this area somewhat well, and by staying in that region, you’ll develop further familiarity with the area’s terrain, traffic, seasonal weather patterns, and so on.
Fewer surprises and a less intimidating and stressful driving experience are generally a hallmark of regional and local trucking.
On the other hand, if you enjoy going out to new parts of the country and find driving in unfamiliar areas exciting, staying in one smaller place may not appeal to you.
Regional trucking can be more predictable
Regional trucking generally doesn’t require as many lifestyle adjustments as OTR. You may also be able to work a dedicated run, which provides a predictable route and schedule—rare for a trucking career.
A dedicated run provides a routine and rhythm for trucking work that delivers predictable and reliable service—a benefit to the driver, carrier, and customer alike.
Regional trucking can be more predictable than OTR—but it doesn’t have to be. Dedicated runs and predictable schedules are rare for regional trucking jobs—don’t expect to start on one right away once you’ve made the transition from long haul to short haul. Dedicated runs are more common for local trucking than regional.
As well, much short haul work is seasonal. Jobs transporting road salt, for example, will dry up in the spring and jobs transporting gravel for construction work will dry up ahead of winter.
Is short haul trucking easier than OTR trucking?
Short haul trucking can be easier than long haul trucking, but it is not necessarily so. In fact, in some respects regional trucking can turn out to be more demanding than OTR trucking.
Many short haul runs are pickups and deliveries, which require more maneuvering and backing up compared to OTR. On a given day you could log just as many hours as you would while working OTR but fewer miles without doing any less work.
How to make the switch from OTR to regional
Whether or not to take up regional trucking depends on how you weigh the benefits and drawbacks. Regional trucking can give you more time to spend with your family at home and more familiar (and potentially more predictable) routes compared to OTR, but it’s also often harder work that pays less.
You’ve weighed all the benefits and drawbacks of regional trucking, and you’ve decided that it’s the right career move for you. What happens next?
If you’ve been an OTR trucker for a while and transitioning to regional work sounds appealing, we can help you make that career switch. Veltri is looking for truckers with a minimum two years of tractor-trailer experience to service our operational region, consisting of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
At Veltri, we are a family owned and operated premier employer of professional drivers, offering competitive pay, comprehensive benefits, and advancement opportunities. We pride ourselves on hiring the best drivers and treating them right. We believe that is the key to providing superior services to our customers.