Line Haul vs Long Haul: What's the Difference?

Reviewed by
Vedant Khamesra
Published date:
December 19, 2022

Every day, more than 36 million packages are delivered across the US.1

That’s a mind-boggling figure in its own right, but it only accounts for finished goods—it doesn’t include the tens of millions of deliveries involving raw materials, components, building materials, food and beverages, fuel, and so on. 

Transporting all these items is a massive logistical undertaking typically handled by one of the two most common types of freight carriers: line haulers or long haulers. 

But what are the similarities and differences between the two? 

Today, we’ll discuss line haul vs. long haul in the world of shipping logistics and delivery management

What Are Long Haulers 

When you think of a truck driver, the image that probably comes to mind is a long haul truck. 

As the name suggests, long haulers are professional drivers that spend weeks driving a long distance out on the road, over freeways and interstates, living out of their semi-truck, as they deliver their goods over the expanse of the entire country.

Also known as over-the-road (OTR) freight, a long-haul transport route will typically be at least 250 miles, but it could be thousands of miles spent journeying all the way into Canada and Mexico.  

Although some carriers are massive, the majority of the long haul trucking industry consists of independent owner-operators and small fleets. According to the OOIDA:  2

Fleet Size Group Fleet Size By Power Units Number of Carriers Carrier % of Total Total Power Units Power Unit% of Total
Very Small 1 to 6 502,626 86% 924,467 19.81%
Small 7 to 19 53,332 9.13% 583,105 12.49%
Medium 20 to 100 24,133 4.13% 955,280 20.47%
Large 101 to 2,000 4,212 .72% 1,236,217 26.49%
Very Large 2,011 to 5000 93 .02% 278,517 5.9%
Mega 5,001+ 41 .01% 680,461 14.77%
Total   584,437 100% 4,667047 100%

What Are Line Haulers?

What is line haul transportation all about? A line haul driver is tasked with transporting oversized or heavy freight from one location to another. They typically provide shipping services, management, quality assurance, and regulatory compliance. 

Usually, the line haul carrier loads the items up at the beginning of the day and then delivers the shipment to the intended destination—be it a port, fulfillment center, airfield, or trainyard—at the end of the day. 

Line haul freight loads are consolidated and then shipped to a distribution facility. From there, they’re sorted and sent on to a receiver. While en route, line haul freight may be carried via truck, train, airplane, or ship. 

In most cases, a line hauler only makes a single pickup and a single delivery. 

Line Haul vs Long Haul 

Although there are some similarities shared between the two fulfillment operations, there are also major differences between the two: 

  • Time spent on the road – Long haul drivers drive much further distances on average compared to line haulers. A long hauler may be on the road for weeks, whereas line haul drivers will often work a fairly normal 9 to 5. 

  • Pay – Long hauling tends to pay drivers better due to the long hours spent alone on the road. That said, it’s not an easy job, which is why it has much higher rates of driver turnover than line hauling. 

  • Compliance – Line hauler carriers don’t need to worry nearly as much about regulatory compliance. Long haulers are governed by hours of service (HOS) regulations that require them to take and log breaks and off-duty time before hitting the road again. Regardless of the drivers you employ, make sure they follow the DOT compliance checklist.

  • Price of shipping – Line haul drivers tend to drive shorter distances, which results in lower freight fares. Furthermore, line haul carriers are incentivized to track their analytics in order to install optimizations that reduce the cost of transportation. 


  • Safety – Line hauling tends to be a safer form of driving because there’s less time spent on the road and fewer concerns about driver fatigue. 


Fuel Cards for Line and Long Haulers

Despite their differences, both long haul drivers and line haul drivers are crucial to supply chain operations and often share some common operational challenges, namely, rising fuel costs.

Typically, fuel is one of—if not the—largest variable expenses for both types of carriers. And now, with fuel prices skyrocketing, carriers need to learn how to manage fleet fuel costs so they can perform their trucking jobs safely and efficiently. 

For that, fleet fuel cards are a powerful cost-cutting and process optimization tool. The right card can provide access to fuel discounts, powerful workflow automation, and a centralized payroll system.

To run a successful fleet, carriers must carefully monitor, analyze, and assess their operational expenses. And fleet fuel cards make that much easier. 

The AtoB Fleet Fuel Card for Line Haul and Long Haul Carriers  

Both a line haul and long haul truck driver offer invaluable services to businesses and customers that need to move goods from one place to another. While both carrier types operate according to different business models, they still share many similarities.

And both would greatly benefit from utilizing AtoB’s fleet fuel card. 

By partnering with us, any carrier could instantly enhance its fleet management activities overnight. Our fuel cards are accepted nationwide, offer competitive fuel discounts, and enable you to set spending limits. They also work hand-in-hand with many digital payment systems

If you want greater visibility and more control over your fuel spend, go AtoB. Find out how to start your AtoB fuel card application today.


1 Packola. How Many Packages Are Shipped in the US?

2 OOIDA. Trucking Facts.

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Reviewed by

Vedant Khamesra

Vedant Khamesra is the driving force behind product management at AtoB. Specializing in strategic partnerships, SMB solutions, and new product development, Vedant seamlessly navigates P&L responsibilities while leading product execution and strategy. He is fueled by AtoB's mission to empower truckers and fleets with intelligent financial tools and services, making their lives easier and more rewarding.

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