Difference between Long-haul vs Short-haul Trucking

Long-haul and Short-haul trucking also known as Long-distance or Short-distance trucking are two different types of transportation modes used for the movement of goods and commodities. These two modes of trucking serve as the backbone for various industries and are important to the supply chain but there is a significant difference in terms of their challenges, operational dynamics, and economic impacts.

What is Long-haul trucking?

Long-haul trucking is generally known as long-distance trucking or over-the-road trucking. It is a type of trucking in which drivers need to travel over 400 kilometers to transport goods and products. Since normal vans or trucks can’t handle this excess load, specialized vehicles are used for long-haul transportation.

Long-haul trucking can also be defined as a complicated operation that comprises logistics and administrative tasks. It generally involves loading and unloading cargo, traveling hundreds of kilometers to reach the destination, and ensuring safe transportation of products. The long-haul truckers are well-trained to face any incoming challenges on the way.

What is Short-haul trucking?

Short-haul trucking, also known as short-distance trucking, is a type of trucking in which drivers need to transport goods and products within a 150-mile or 240-kilometer radius. Unlike long-haul trucking, drivers operate on short routes and transport smaller equipment that is less expensive and easier for usual trucks to handle. Since routes are shorter, drivers can complete multiple shipments per day.

Short-haul trucking can also be defined as a complex operation that comprises logistics and administrative tasks. It generally involves transporting goods in local or regional areas, like moving groceries from a warehouse to neighboring markets, while ensuring the safety of goods during the process.  

Difference between long-haul and short-haul trucking

Although both long-haul and short-haul trucking seem to be similar, there are still a lot of differences between them. Some of those are listed below.

  • Away from home: One of the key differences between long-haul and short-haul truckers is the time they spend away from home. In short-haul trucking, a driver completes multiple shipments and returns home at the end of the day, but in long-haul trucking, a driver needs to spend several days, sometimes even a few weeks, away from home.
  • On-Road Driver Expenses: On-road expenses are higher in long-haul trucking as drivers spend more time on the road. Whereas, short-haul truckers spend less time on the road, hence reducing their on-road expenses.
  • Distance covered: Long-haul drivers need to travel more than 250 miles or 400 kilometers to complete a single shipment. Whereas, short-haul drivers usually transport goods and products within a 150-mile or 240-kilometer radius.
  • Truck types: For long-haul trucking, specialized vehicles are used because normal vans or trucks can’t handle huge loads of goods. On the other hand, short-haul drivers prefer to operate with smaller vehicles, as they are easier to operate on city roads.  
  • Frequency of unloading cargo: Since long-haul drivers ride trucks for a longer period, the frequency of unloading cargo is higher in short-haul trucking. 
  • Operational Expenses of Truck: The operating expenses include travel expenses, truck maintenance costs, and fuel charges. The operating expenses of long-haul truckers are higher than those of short-haul drivers.
  • Uncertainty and Risk: Long-haul drivers are more likely to face uncertainty and risk because they travel hundreds of kilometers completely unaware of the new challenge waiting for them. For shipment, they need to explore unknown places, facing extreme weather conditions while ensuring the safe transportation of products.
  • Quality of life: There is a huge salary gap between long-haul and short-haul truckers. Commonly, long-haul drivers earn more and enjoy a good quality of life.
  • Driving skills: Long-haul drivers must be good at cross-border driving and aware of inter-state rules and regulations. On the other hand, short-haul drivers must be good at narrow lanes, sharp turns, and operating on city roads.


Both long-haul and short-haul trucking is a reliable and profitable career option but only suitable for some. Before choosing them as a career, one must know the challenges and risks involved in these businesses. To make a shipment successful, truckers need a tool that provides correct navigation and does live tracking of their vehicles. NextBillion.ai’s Navigation API and Live Tracking API can assist drivers, thereby increasing the productivity of shipment.