Is Short Haul Trucking For Me? The Owner Operator’s Dilemma

When you first considered becoming a trucker, the image that came to mind was a big tractor trailer on the open road, right?  Well, a growing percentage of trucking is moving into what is categorized as “short haul” trucking, meaning under 150 mile delivery radius.

Over the last few decades, larger carriers are introducing more depots throughout major routes giving them greater capacity and increasing the number of short haul loads between depots.  With this shift in infrastructure, opportunities abound for owner operators to cash in on a local route, allowing them to carry more loads in a week and making tractor maintenance and repairs a more consistent—and convenience—part of their calendar.

Key Advantages of Short Haul Trucking

Reduced food/travel expenses. There is a propensity to eat out more on the road, which can impact one’s health as well as the bottom line.  It takes discipline, but eating at home and bringing snacks from your local grocery store instead of a truck stop is certain to help you save money.

More loads per week. With the benefit of shorter runs and more than likely an exemption from the Hours of Service rule, it’s possible to pick up more loads in a day for the short hops

Consistent, familiar service area. Especially true when working with a single large carrier, you’ll likely inherit dedicated routes, so when detours or unscheduled back-ups (accidents, emergency maintenance) occur, you will likely be able to reroute on your own terms.

Better work-life balance. The trucking life is notorious for straining family relationships.  With long hours and unpredictable schedules, long haul trucking can be challenging for loved ones.

Versatile tractor options. With short haul trucking, you are free to use more affordable trucks since a sleeper cab is not typically required.  The shorter trips also helps justify the purchase of a used big rig instead of new, since mileage likely won’t add up as quickly.

If you’re enjoying your career as a trucker, however long for something that gets you back to your family regularly, short haul trucking just might be the right fit for you.  If you’re investigating the opportunity, be sure to take advantage of some of the benefits of short haul trucking, such as reduced trucking insurance premiums and planned fueling stops which can improve your bottom line.