FreightWaves Ratings cuts through the noise of freight technology product reviews to make you a smarter buyer

What Is Long Haul Trucking?

The multi-faceted transportation and logistics industry includes many trucking solutions to move goods worldwide. Long-haul trucking, or over-the-road (OTR), involves any long-distance transportation of cargo over 250 miles. Long-haul truck drivers travel across the country and experience the adventure of the open road. However, there are additional considerations drivers and trucking companies must be aware of to operate efficiently and legally. 

Learn more about long haul trucking and if a career as a long haul truck driver is right for you. 

How Does Long Haul Trucking Work?

Long-haul truck drivers are essential for moving goods across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Unlike truck drivers who operate on local or regional routes, long-haul truckers travel long distances on varied routes. As a result, they are often on the road for multiple days at a time, typically sleeping in the cab of their truck or motels. 

What Is a Long-Haul Vehicle?

The vehicles used for long-haul trucking are typically large semi trucks with spacious cabs. Since most long-haul drivers sleep in their cabs, most are fitted with a small sleeping and living area. These trucks then tow trailers full of cargo and deliver them to a drop-off location. 

What Do Long-Haul Truck Drivers Do?

Like any truck driver, long-haul drivers transport and deliver cargo on time while adhering to federal and state laws. They also are responsible for performing service checks to ensure the safety of their vehicles, logging hours and expenses, and communicating with dispatch. The main thing that sets long-haul truck drivers away from other truckers is that they perform these tasks more independently due to the vast distances they cover. 

How Much Do Long-Haul Truck Drivers Make?

Long-haul trucking is a lucrative and rewarding career with an average salary of around $53,000 per year. However, typically less experienced long haul drivers earn less than average, while experienced owner-operators earn more. 

Things To Consider With Long Haul Trucking

The greater the distance traveled, the more factors trucking companies and drivers must consider. Besides general guidelines and regulations in the industry, long-haul trucking has challenges such as higher fuel costs, HOS compliance, rejected shipments, market fragmentation, source loading vehicle maintenance, and OTR time.

Fuel Costs

Despite advances in eco-friendliness, trucks have notoriously bad fuel efficiency. Combined with rising and fluctuating fuel prices, budgeting for fuel for long-haul trips is a difficult task.

HOS Compliance

For the safety of every driver on the road, truck drivers are limited on how many hours they can drive before being legally required to take a break. After eight hours, drivers must take a 30-minute break. Then they are capped at 11 hours of driving before it’s required to have 10 hours off-duty, seven of which must be spent sleeping. 

Long-haul drivers cannot drive more than 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. After these 60 or 70 hours, they must have at least 34 hours off in a row. Drivers can make logging and adhere to HOS regulations with an ELD-equipped dash cam for long-haul trucking.

Rejected Shipments

Having a shipment rejected is always possible, but it’s even more detrimental when the goods have already traveled long distances. Therefore, long-haul truck drivers must stay vigilant about protecting their cargo from damage or spoiling to reduce the chances that clients will deny it at delivery. 

Market Fragmentation

Small fleets and owner-operators fulfill most of the nation’s long-haul trucking needs. Unfortunately, these small companies often have different goals and agendas that don’t always line up with each other causing fragmentation in the industry.

Source Loading

Despite the high demand for long-haul trucking, companies and independent drivers still often struggle to find suitable loads to transport. Luckily, it’s possible to find high-paying quality loads on online load boards.

Vehicle Maintenance

With long distances traveled, long-haul vehicles are even more likely to break down at inopportune moments. Keeping up with general maintenance and repairs is an essential responsibility for long-haul truckers, as is long-haul trucking insurance. However, drivers should still expect to have to visit unfamiliar repair shops along their routes occasionally to deal with unexpected issues. 

OTR Time

Over-the-road (OTR) time is often part of the attraction to long-haul trucking. However, while spending days and weeks driving across the country is an adventure, it also requires serious dedication. Driving for long periods is physically and mentally exhausting, and many drivers find spending time away from their families challenging. 

Benefits of Long Haul Trucking

Long-haul truck driving can be a gratifying career for the right person. As a long-haul trucker, you benefit from financial security, excellent employee benefits, career stability, flexible schedules, and you get to travel. 

Financial security

Demand for long-haul truck drivers is constantly growing, and the career offers competitive pay. As a result, most drivers benefit from regular pay increases and earned bonuses. 


Truck drivers are an essential part of supply chains around the world. Goods need to move from one place to another; long-haul trucking is the way most cargo moves across the continental United States. Moreover, with so much reliance on truck drivers, there is long-haul job security. 


Despite the long hours on the road, long-haul truck drivers have quite a bit of flexibility to make their schedules and choose their contracts. In addition, experienced long-haul drivers often decide to become owner-operators, affording them even more flexibility. 

Employee Benefits

Most trucking companies employing long-haul drivers offer excellent health and dental benefits. Some even provide paid vacation time and 401K contributions. 


While working as a long-haul truck driver, you travel on the open road and get paid at the same time. Long-haul trucking is the adventure of a lifetime, with varied routes through some of the most beautiful places in North America.

Long Haul vs. Short Haul Trucking

Both long haul and short haul trucking are essential for supply chains and involve drivers transporting and delivering cargo. However, there are a few key differences between the two that potential drivers should be aware of before joining the industry. 

The most apparent difference is that long-haul trucking covers long distances or 250 miles or more, while short-haul trucking operates in a small radius. As a result, operating and equipment costs are higher in long-haul trucking, as are on-the-road expenses due to the long distances traveled. 

Drivers also must be aware of different on-road considerations. Long haul drivers need to familiarize themselves with interstate regulations, while shore haul drivers need better vehicle handling skills to maneuver down small roads with tight turns. 

Is Long Haul Trucking Right For You?

The trucking industry is constantly growing, and new drivers are needed today. Like any job, there are challenges to be met, but the benefits of long-haul trucking are endless. So if you have a sense of adventure and want a rewarding career, consider becoming a long-haul truck driver

We are excited to announce the launch of, a revolutionary resource designed to transform how consumers choose auto-shipping companies. Check it out today!

Take Home More. Be Home More.™

Take Home More & Be Home More with Roehl Transport, one of North America’s safest and most successful trucking companies. Match with one of Roehl’s local, regional, dedicated, and OTR truck driving jobs today! Minimum 3 years experience required.