The term “trucker” or “truck driver” is used pretty broadly to describe anyone who drives a truck for a living. However, there are different types of truckers on the road, including long-haul and short-haul drivers. It’s essential to understand the differences between these two types of jobs, as they require different schedules, have some different responsibilities, and can even have different kinds of trucks (though to the layman’s eye, they might look the same). Keep reading to learn more about the differences between long-haul and short-haul trucking and how to find the right type of truck for the job in our truck inventory.
Work Schedules and Time on the Road
Short-haul truckers can often work a schedule similar to your average postal worker or delivery driver. They’ll primarily work local trucking jobs, putting in a full day of making deliveries throughout their area. At the end of the day, they can return home for a meal and a good night’s rest in a comfortable bed. While days might be a little longer, or the hours might be a bit abnormal when compared to your typical office worker’s schedule, short-haul trucking is very similar to jobs in many other industries.
On the other hand, long-haul drivers can have a grueling schedule that takes them away from home for weeks at a time. They’ll spend a lot more time on the road, often driving from sunup to sundown as they make deliveries across the country. Many of them are on a regular weekly or monthly schedule, which only allows them to return home on weekends or even every few weeks. Typically, if a trucker’s schedule takes them away from home for several weeks, they’ll have a longer time at home (perhaps a week) rather than a typical weekend. Still, this schedule can be quite trying, especially for those who have children at home.
Responsibilities on the Job
You might think that truck drivers would have the same responsibilities, regardless of how long or short their drive times are. And while both long-haul and short-haul drivers have very similar job duties, one key difference is how much of their time they spend loading and unloading their vehicles. Truck drivers are generally expected to coordinate unloading their cargo when they arrive at their destination.
For long-haul drivers, this means completing paperwork and ensuring proper delivery once every few days, perhaps. Short-haul drivers, however, can make multiple pickups and deliveries every day. This means that much more of their time will be spent on tasks like loading, unloading, and coordinating with customers than those who do long-haul trucking.
Not only do short-haul and long-haul drivers have different average salaries, but their pay structure is usually different as well. Short-haul drivers usually earn an hourly wage and earn an average of $36,660 per year. Long-haul drivers are usually paid per mile and may receive bonuses for faster deliveries. On average, the long-haul driver will earn about $48,310 per year, though those on the higher end of the earning spectrum can earn over $70,000 yearly. The higher income is one reason many people interested in becoming truckers will opt for long-haul driving.
Of course, when considering income from a job like this, it’s important to consider any expenses you might incur while on the road. Short-haul drivers’ job-related expenses tend to be pretty low—about the same as what you would expect from your average worker in any industry. Perhaps you get a cup of coffee before beginning your early-morning shift, and you may buy yourself lunch during the day, but that’s about it in terms of on-the-road expenses.
Long-haul drivers spend a lot more time on the road and are likely to stack up many expenses related to those long drives. Generally speaking, long-haul drivers won’t get any kind of stipend for these kinds of expenses, so you will have to account for things like meals, snacks, drinks, laundry, showers, and occasionally sleeping in a comfortable bed. Considering short-haul and long-haul driving based on the increased income, consider these expenses to determine if the net income increase will be worth the long hours and more grueling driving schedule.
Type of Truck
Many people are surprised to learn that short-haul and long-haul truckers often drive very different types of trucks. For starters, short-haul trucks tend to be much more compact and easier to maneuver on city roads since they tend to stay within city limits. Long-haul trucks, on the other hand, are much larger and designed to carry as much cargo as possible.
Short-haul trucks are designed for driving alone and don’t have the additional amenities that long-haul tractor trailers are designed with. The cab area of these trucks is also quite different. Because long-haul truckers can spend weeks on the road, they typically have an extended cab that offers a small space for resting. A cot can provide an adequate bed for the night without the driver having to spend money on a hotel.
Comparing the Pros and Cons
For those considering a career in trucking, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of short-haul and long-haul driving. Short-haul drivers have more of a standard work schedule, allowing them to be home every night with their families, and they don’t have to worry about the expenses associated with cross-country driving. Long-haul drivers earn more money but work more grueling hours and have to foot the bill for their living expenses on the road. Additionally, a short-haul driver will spend more time working face-to-face with customers to coordinate the loading and unloading of multiple deliveries. In comparison, long-haul drivers spend much more time driving, typically on their own (though some long-haul truckers drive with a partner).
If you’re considering a career in trucking and need to find the right truck for the job, contact Arrow Truck Sales to view our inventory of vehicles.