A Truck Driver’s Guide to P&D Routes vs. Longhaul Runs

A Truck Driver’s Guide to P&D Routes vs. Longhaul Runs

One of the many reasons commercial truck driving remains a popular and rewarding career choice is the flexbility and freedom that comes with a life on the road.  


Truck drivers can decide what freight they want to carry, which vehicle they operate, and even the kind of route they drive each day. For many truckers, one of the most important decisions to be made is whether they want to be a pickup and delivery (P&D) or longhaul driver.  


There are distinct differences between these two options, and both come with their own benefits and challenges. It’s important to fully understand each route type before making a decision, and to consider what factors matter most to your career goals and overall satisfaction.  


Keep reading to find out what P&D and longhaul routes really mean, and how the differences in pay, workload, and flexibility impact the decision process of truck drivers across the country.  


What’s P&D? 

Simply put, P&D refers to the pickup and delivery of packages to homes and businesses within a specific area or region. P&D drivers collect packages from shippers, businesses, or individuals and deliver them directly to recipients’ doorsteps.  


These drivers often use small box trucks or vans, which means a CDL is not always required, making P&D a common choice for drivers who are just starting out in the industry.  


Pickup and delivery routes also have significantly lower risks and operational costs than longhaul runs, including lower insurance, vehicle maintenance, and initial starting expenses. Since P&D routes cover fewer miles on primarily local roads, they are generally recomended for drivers looking to gain experience and remain close to home each day.  


There are two different delivery types for P&D drivers, either home delivery or ground routes.  


Home delivery involves delivering packages to residential households. These packages are typically smaller, and the volume experiences high seasonal variability. 


Ground routes focus on deliveries to commercial businesses. Ground packages can be significantly larger than home delivery packages, and some routes may include multiple, heavier packages to a single location. 


When it comes to pay, there are a few factors to consider. P&D routes often have more narrow profit margins than longhaul runs, which means that the pay is usually lower on average, although more stable overall.  


P&D drivers are also often paid hourly instead of per mile. This can be a benefit when considering the potential of city traffic and long wait times at pickup or delivery locations. However, pay rates and benefits will always depend on experience level, location, and company policies.  


What Are Longhaul Runs? 

The other available route type is a longhaul run.  


These routes typically involve transporting goods over long distances, often spanning several states or even across the country. Unlike P&D routes, which focus on local or regional deliveries, longhaul runs cover extensive ground and can last several days or even weeks, depending on the specific route and cargo. 


For longhaul runs, drivers will need to use a semi-truck and have a CDL, as packages will either need to be delivered intra-state (within a state) or inter-state (across two or more states), which may require hundreds or thousands of miles on major roadways.  


Longhaul runs have higher upfront and operational costs than P&D routes, since maintaining and repairing 18-wheeler trucks can be expensive, and the extensive mileage demands significantly more fuel. This makes longhaul runs generally more difficult for owner operators investing in a route for the first time or drivers just starting out in the industry.  


However, longhaul runs also generate significantly higher revenue on average. In fact, according to KR Capital, a single linehaul run could bring in up to five times as much profit as a P&D route. This means that for experienced owner/operators investing in a route, longhaul runs are often the top choice.  


For longhaul drivers, the compensation is usually in the form of pay per mile, which can really add up due to the extensive distance covered by most longhaul routes. However, this pay structure means that any delays, such as traffic or long wait times, will result in time spent behind the wheel without direct compensation.  




Whether you’re a owner operator looking to invest in a route or a company driver deciding which option is the right fit for your interests, both P&D and longhaul runs offer unique advantages and challenges. P&D can be great for those starting out in the industry looking to take advantage of the increasing need for last mile delivery, while longhaul runs are a solid choice for experienced drivers interested in higher pay and a chance to explore the country by road.  


If you’re looking for further insights into industry trends and trucking advice, make sure to keep an eye on our latest Truck Driver Blog posts and connect with us on social media.