OTR (over the road) truckers have the opportunity to travel all over the country depending on where their loads are going. Some even travel regularly to Mexico and Canada. An OTR trucker basically picks up a load at a supplier and transports it to a retailer, such as driving medical equipment from the factory to retail outlets or food from a processing plant to a grocery store.
An OTR trucker’s loads are meticulously coordinated to minimize deadheading, or driving an empty truck. A trucker might start his or her week hauling a load from their home base in Ohio to Florida where they’ll load up with oranges that they deliver to Georgia. There, they’ll pick up a load of peaches to be taken toKentuckywhere they’ll stop for a load of tobacco headed for a factory in Ohio. At this point the trucker might get a load going to a neighboring state or they might return to their home for a few days off.
Not all trips are limited to single loads traveling just a few hundred miles. OTR truckers that drive moving vans might load up several shipments of furniture from all over the state, and then travel across the country dropping off those shipments along the way. When they drop their last load on the West Coast their dispatcher will have a list of pick up sites waiting for them to deliver on their way home back to the East Coast. Some moving companies make the most of empty space by arranging pickups in the same cities as deliveries, so the moving van is never more than half empty.
There are many kinds of trucks that an OTR trucker can choose from. Dry vans transport goods that need protection from the elements but not a temperature controlled environment. Reefers (refrigerated) trailers transport produce, frozen goods, meat and even medicine. The trucker has to keep a close watch on the refrigeration unit to be sure the goods arrive in good condition. There are flatbed trailers that haul lumber, wire, pallets of concrete blocks and other materials. An OTR trucker can even haul cars from the factory to dealerships.
OTR truckers are required to have a CDL and know the regulations and rules governing the industry. A CDL has to be renewed periodically and the driver must undergo a physical exam to be certain he or she is healthy enough to drive without endangering others on the road. Anyone considering a career as an OTR trucker should also consider getting special endorsements to their license that would let them also drive tankers, haul hazardous materials and other options that can expand their opportunities and give them more job security.
OTR trucking has a kind of built in job security, because without the services of truckers the economic wheels of the country would soon stop turning. This doesn’t mean that drivers should become complacent, however. Many companies are expanding their facilities with local branches in order to reduce the costs of shipping. Still, OTR truckers will always be needed.