Driving LTL: Is it right for you?
Being a professional truck driver opens the door to many career paths. And while many people start out driving over-the-road (OTR), less-than-truckload (LTL) driving can be an attractive option.
Learn the basics of the job
An LTL driver typically visits the same locations each day or week, making multiple deliveries during a shift. LTL driving jobs are divided into two categories:
Pickup and delivery (P&D)
In a P&D (or local/city driver) role, drivers pick up freight from the service center and deliver it to the customer, or vice versa. P&D involves heavy city driving with multiple stops each day. It can also include loading and unloading freight and helping with dock work, making it a vital, fast-paced job that’s great for drivers who enjoy using all their professional skills and interacting with customers. And one of the biggest draws of P&D driving? You usually are home daily.
Linehaul drivers move freight between service centers, usually for longer stretches in a particular region. They can run during the day or at night, depending on what the shipment requires. Some linehaul drivers are home every night while others may spend more time on the road. LTL trucks are primarily day cabs instead of sleepers, so if an overnight stay on the road is necessary, the carrier typically covers to stay in a hotel.
Make sure you have the proper endorsements
You never know what you may be called upon to move as an LTL driver. While CDL endorsement requirements vary by carrier and by the types of freight you haul, it’s a good idea to have certain ones in hand before pursuing an LTL driving job:
- Hazmat — for transporting hazardous materials
- Doubles/triples — for moving multiple trailers at once
- Tanker — for companies that haul liquid totes
Factors that make LTL worth considering
LTL jobs are highly coveted by professional truck drivers. Here are a few reasons why:
While OTR drivers can usually earn more annually, it comes with the price of being on the road for weeks at a time. As an LTL driver with a local or regional route, you get to be home regularly, spend more time with family and friends, and sleep in your own bed more often.
Consistency and predictability
With LTL, you’ll likely have a steady schedule, and it’s easier to plan when you know what to expect day to day. You’ll become familiar with the people you see and the routes you travel (which is comforting if you’re a creature of habit). And your weekly pay may also be more reliable.
Shorter drive times
Driving fatigue is much easier to manage when you’re making frequent P&D stops or if you’re within a few hours (or less) of your linehaul destination. Shorter stretches behind the wheel can also help keep you more alert and engaged, which makes for safer driving.
Access to company equipment
Not every driver aspires to be an owner-operator. If you prefer to use a company-provided truck, LTL may be even more appealing. Along with avoiding the start-up costs associated with truck ownership, LTL drivers don’t have to pay for ongoing maintenance or repair expenses.
Competitive pay and benefits
Many drivers find that working for a respected carrier provides them with more than just a regular paycheck. When you drive for ABF, for example, you receive company-paid benefits with no premiums in addition to Teamster Union Scale pay — not to mention regular opportunities for career growth and recognition.
If a career in LTL sounds appealing to you, learn about more advantages to driving for ABF Freight.
Launch your LTL driving career with ABF
With more than 240 service centers nationwide, there’s a place for you at ABF. We’ve spent 100 years becoming one of the industry’s most trusted and experienced LTL carriers, and our people are the reason for our success. We’d love for you to join our team!