How Long Are Truck Drivers Away From Home?

Jill Caren
By Jill Caren
Updated December 17th, 2023

Warm home cooked meals, hugs from the kids, and sleeping in your own bed. These are things most of us take for granted!

But for truck drivers they are a part of life that they might be missing for days or weeks on end. If you are wondering how long are truck drivers away from home for, we have some answers.

Depending on what type of truck driver you become will determine exactly how long you will be away from home for.

Below we will share some common scenarios that can affect your family time.

How Long Do truck Drivers Stay Away From Home?

The reality of becoming a truck driver means there are sacrifices that will need to be made from the whole family.

Trucking is a blue collar job that requires a lot of time away from home.

Below are some things that may affect just how long yo might be away:

  • Where you are located
  • The company you choose to work for
  • How long you have been driving
  • Whether a union is involved

But to give you an idea – on average an OTR truck driver might be away from their home for 2-3 weeks at a time. But let’s dig in a little deeper with some details.

There are some rules from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration about how long and how much a truck driver can work. It is important to know these so you understand what your company can or cannot do!

These rules apply for truck drivers carrying products or property:

  • A driver cannot exceed 70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. They are required to have 34 or more consecutive hours off between 70 hour commuting session.
  • Drivers must take a 30 minute break for each 8 hours of consecutive driving they do.
  • A maximum of 11 hours of driving in a 14 hour period can be done after 10 consecutive hours off.

But remember there will be other things that will cut into the 70 hours you can work. You typically will not be driving the whole 70 hours. You may need to do maintenance, get gas, wait to get the truck loaded or unloaded, or stop for a roadside inspection.

Related: DOT vs non DOT drug testing

What is OTR?

OTR is short of “Over The Road” which is a common term used in the trucking industry. This term means you will be traveling across a region to make deliveries to different customers. This typically requires being on the road for a few weeks at a time.

This article is only referring to OTR truck drivers as those are the ones that are on the road for a duration of time.

What Is Local?

A local driver is one that will do deliveries in a local area. These drivers will usually be able to be home every night. You may be asked to do runs that might take you a little further requiring an overnight stay, but this is not a frequent amount of travel.

How long do OTR Truck drivers Spend Away From Home?

An OTR driver could be out for as much as 6 weeks at a time.

Some drivers find that staying out this length of time pays more than shorter routes. So they may take these routes and then spend a few weeks home before going out again. Others might be gone for 2 or 3 weeks spend a few days home and then go out again.

What If I need Time Off?

Of course you have a life, and hopefully your employer understands that! If you have a planned event, then definitely let your company know as far as you can in advance. Many trucking companies lay out their schedules well in advance of the delivery dates so it is important to get to them asap!

What If My Family Has An Emergency?

If you work for a great company (and you should make sure you find out before you take a job) – they will most likely do their best to get someone out there to replace you. While you may not be able to head right home as quickly as you would like, you will be able to leave as soon as backup arrives.

In some cases we have seen trucking companies tell their employees to just come back to the main office if the customer what understanding.

What If I Do Not Want To Be Gone So Much?

If truck driving is a career you are really interested in, but just do not want to be away from home that much – you have options. You can work for a local company to do local deliveries that will have you home at night. You can also do short-haul truck deliveries that will only be an overnight trip.

Another option is to become an independent truck driver and not work for a company. This will allow you to have more control over the hours you work if that is more important than benefits or other company perks you might lose.

How Road Time Affects Pay

The truth is if you are willing to to do the long hauls and spend more time away from home, the chances you will make those bigger salaries.

What Real Truckers Say

We thought it would be really helpful to provide some links to discussions from truckers who are out there living the trucker life and giving great advice. These threads and quotes are from real truck drivers from all over the United States sharing their thoughts on home time policies.

  1. OTR drivers get 1 day home for every 6 days of driving – reddit
  2. In the US you cannot exceed 70 hours on duty in an 8 day period – Quora
  3. Can I ask for a rotational schedule – reddit

Jill Caren is an international SEO consultant and founder of 2Dogs Media. She is also a trainer, journalist, and speaker who helps brands increase their organic search visibility, traffic, and conversions. She is also the co-founder of Blue Collar Brain, a resource for those looking to enter a trade career.

She has been featured on MSN, Wealth of Geeks, Hubspot, SEO Powersuite, and other publications for her work as an SEO and advocate for skilled trades.