LTL (Less-than-Truckload) drivers, the unsung heroes of modern economy, work tirelessly to deliver a variety of goods to different destinations. Their workday is full of challenges, from managing a multitude of shipments to handling unexpected road conditions. Unlike full truckload drivers who transport a single shipment, the life of an LTL driver is punctuated with multiple pickups, deliveries, and terminal stops.
Each day, an LTL driver starts early, arriving at the local carrier terminal to inspect their trucks, ensuring they're fueled and ready for the road. The loading of trailers, often performed by the night crew, might continue while drivers prepare their trucks. These trailers are filled with pallets of various shipments, each intended for different locations.
Once the loading process is complete, drivers receive their delivery and pickup schedule for the day. Based on this, they plan their route meticulously, organizing the necessary paperwork. Depending on the specifics of the load and the size of their truck, a driver might have to make between 10 and 12 deliveries during the day. Each delivery typically consists of several shrink-wrapped pallets.
LTL drivers are usually responsible for specific routes or regions, leading to familiar faces and locations on their weekly rounds. This familiarity can often contribute to the efficiency of their work. Once they have their route and their truck is ready, they set out to make the day's deliveries.
Every stop on an LTL driver's route can present a unique set of challenges, from specific delivery instructions to requiring special equipment. Shippers provide a delivery window, within which the receiver must be ready to accept the delivery, inspect it, and sign the proof of delivery.
However, there are times when a business might be unable to receive its shipment. In such cases, the driver marks the delivery as missed and returns the shipment to the terminal. Such instances can lead to additional charges for the customer and the delivery is usually rescheduled for the following day.
If everything goes according to plan, by midday, the driver completes their deliveries and moves on to the scheduled pickups. Carriers usually arrange pickups along similar routes as deliveries to optimize fuel consumption and labor costs. In the afternoon and evening, the driver has several pickups to make, all carefully scheduled to minimize deviations from their regular delivery route.
At the end of a long day, the driver returns to the terminal with the collected shipments. These shipments are then unloaded, inspected, weighed, and organized for their next journey. Long-haul trucks pick up these shipments and transport them to their respective destinations. Once at the destination city or county, the shipments are unloaded at the local terminal, ready to be picked up by delivery drivers who will transport them to their final destinations.
An LTL driver's job, whether they are a long-haul or a pickup and delivery (P&D) driver, involves a daily dance with a variety of variables and challenges.