City, Highway or Regional CDL Driver Jobs – Which is Best For You?

1997 379 Peterbilt at Sunset

The types of CDL driver jobs can be simply broken down into 3 different types of work for on-road driving.

  • City (Local)
  • Highway
  • Regional (mix of city/highway)

Truck drivers usually have very individual, distinct preferences for a particular type of  driving job, as all three types of work are quite different from the other.

It pays to know what type of trucking you’re interested in before getting involved, so there are no surprises.

We at Smart Trucking, highly recommend potential and new truck drivers take a serious look at their home time and financial needs before choosing the type of trucking that best suits their needs.

Grey concrete open highway with broken center line and overhead bridge

1. City Driving/Local CDL Driver Jobs – Expectations

These truck driving jobs include making deliveries in an urban area.  City driving/local driving work normally involves driving a day cab truck, doing multiple pick-ups and deliveries within the limits of a large city.

Probably the greatest advantages to this type of trucking, is that it usually pays by the hour, rather than the mile. Nowadays, with electronic on board recorders, an hourly rate driving job, can be much more lucrative, than a mileage rate job.

The driver can be home every night after their shift. City work is done in daylight hours mostly as most shipping and receiving departments of businesses only work in those hours. However, all night warehouses are becoming more common, so night shift can also be a possibility.

This type of trucking these days can potentially be the best paying type of trucking one can do, as the EOB will accurately record the number of hours worked in a shift. No shorting a driver on miles!

City work is sometimes often offered with some type of retirement plan, unlike most regional work and unlike virtually all highway or long haul trucking jobs.

City driving however is not without its’ downside.

Driving in traffic all day and multiple backings and constant interaction with shippers, receivers, dock workers and other trucks can be quite stressful. There’s no relaxing behind the wheel and enjoying the drive with this type of work.

However, for some truckers, the perks and pay, outweigh driving in congested traffic from day to day.

Related > How to Back Up a Tractor Trailer 

2. Highway Driving

New drivers, take note: Over the road trucking isn’t ‘just a job’, but it’s a unique lifestyle, like no other.

Highway or long haul CDL driver jobs can be quite enjoyable and even relaxing at times, for some drivers.  Interaction with others is at a bare minimum. It can also be a great opportunity to see the country, great choice for young single drivers.

Most days, a long haul driver can determine when he starts and finishes his work day and only needs to fight traffic when driving in a big city, usually making a pick-up or delivering a load.

On the downside, highway drivers are nearly always paid by the mile. The mileage rate in trucking has not kept up with the ever-rising cost of living. As a result, highway drivers often suffer from lower paychecks and lots of time away from home. Time away from home can translate into broken marriages and relationships.

In spite of the downsides, there are truckers who prefer this type of trucking and love driving the open highways, rather than the high stress work involved in city truck driving work.

Home time is intermittent and ‘brief’ at best. Many drivers don’t realize this to it’s full extent when entering this industry.

For those not fully prepared, it can mean disaster and divorce.  As an over the road driver, it’s not unusual to spend more time ‘married’ to the driving job and the company, than married and at home with the family.

Young couples may enter into long haul trucking, where the husband drives and the wife stays at home with the kids, thinking hard work for a few years, will provide them with a healthy sum of money.

However, this is often not the case.  The long hours away from home do not produce large paychecks as truckers are paid a mileage rate, not an hourly rate.

A percentage of the driver’s time, is spent waiting and resting. There can be a lot of unpaid time involved.

It’s not like working in the oil fields.  There is no premium pay for working away from home.  In fact, living on the road can be expensive and can take a sizeable chunk of a driver’s pay.

I personally don’t recommend over the road careers as a choice for drivers with families.  Short haul or local work can be a much better choice.

Related > What You Need to Know About Being a Long Haul Trucker 

3. Regional Driving

Regional work, or short haul work has different advantages and disadvantages. Regional jobs are generally considered to be within a 500 mile radius of the home terminal, so a driver is never very far away from home. In fact, the driver may get the occasional day at home between loads.

However, most regional driving work still pays by the mile. Running a series of short trips is much more difficult than running one long trip, with the same mileage.

Regional drivers usually fight traffic somewhere almost every day and need to interact with shippers, receivers and dispatch everyday.

It often takes seven days of work to max out your HOS and then, because of the lower pay as a result of being paid by the mile, the regional driver only can afford to take his 34 reset at home and then go back to work again.

The 34 hour reset is usually spent recovering from the week, before heading out on the road again. As a result, there is actually very little quality home time involved in regional work.

Of the 3 types of trucking mentioned here, regional work can be the toughest type of trucking there is because it seems you are almost always at work. Drivers often cannot afford to take more than the reset time off.

Truth be told, trucking of ALL kinds is tough, demanding work. Do seek out the truck driving job niche that you like best, which suits your needs and expectations, for long term satisfaction.

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