Road rules: 5 surprises about local truck-driving careers

Many drivers who have logged extensive road hours as overnight drivers turn to local work for the relief it gives them, according to an article in the Seattle Times.

There are about 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, according to the American Trucking Associations. Not all of them are so-called “long-haul” or “on-the-road” truckers who criss-cross time zones and mountain ranges, sleeping in their truck cabs and showering at truck stops, or spending short nights in hotels and dashing down diner meals.

Some truckers operate regionally (just along one coast or within a cluster of neighboring states). Still other truck drivers work locally, notes Nathan Saunders, operations manager at Idaho Truck Service, a 30-year-old trucking company based in Idaho and with branches in Washington, Arizona, Utah and South Dakota.

“Local drivers are home most nights with their families, and rarely work weekends,” Saunders notes. “They’re not out overnighting.”

Saunders and his company are currently hiring commercial drivers for local work in the King County and Pierce County area, servicing a plant that makes aggregate – a type of cement used in pavers and other outdoor surfaces. Because of that, he feels it’s important to convey to trucking professionals the advantages of working locally.

Here are five benefits to local trucking careers:

You’re paid differently than long-haul truckers.

Long-haul truckers are paid by the mile, and on paper may be paid more. But local truck drivers are paid by the hour, and while that may look like less some companies offer a signing bonus, the ability to come home every night, and management opportunities which may make the pay tradeoff worth it to many drivers.

Credentials are needed, but they aren’t complicated.

Local as well as long-haul truckers need a commercial driver’s license to drive a commercial vehicle, and the work required to secure such a license may vary by state. Additionally, Idaho Truck Service and other companies will have other requirements with respect to a driver’s experience level, typically as required by the company’s insurance policy. At Idaho Truck Service, drivers need to have at least two or years with their CDL and experience driving what’s known as a Class A vehicle.

Women drivers wanted

“I don’t want to stereotype, but women especially like local driving jobs because they can come home to their family or kids each evening,” Saunders says.

One of the company’s first two dump truck hires in Seattle is a woman – and more are welcome to apply, he says.

Experienced drivers leave the open road for local jobs

Many drivers who have logged extensive road hours as overnight or on-the-road drivers turn to local work for the relief it gives them, the ability to have a new lifestyle where they roost in one community. Idaho Truck Service provides drivers with a signing bonus and then salary, a transition away from the “per-mile” pay longer-haul drivers are typically used to collecting.

“We’ve found a way to help them make the tradeoff from one job to the other worth it,” Saunders says. “There’s high turnover in the trucking industry, but our retention is strong.”

Management roles are available

Local truck drivers, at least at Idaho Truck Service, may have the opportunity to move into management and office roles, either as a move away from trucking or in addition to time spent driving.

“A lot of drivers feel stuck after a long time in the field,” Saunders says, “but if you’re working with a growing company there can be other ways to remain in the industry, including yard supervisors and other types of management.”