Trucking Terms Glossary

Scrabble letters

Air Ride – A suspension system that uses air filled bags instead of springs.  Pressure to the bags is controlled by valves and provides a more steady ride.

10-4 – Radio terminology for “Affirmative.”

10-20 – Radio terminology for “Location.”

10-33 – Radio terminology for “Emergency situation.”

10-200 – Radio terminology for “Police are needed.”

Anchor It – Apply full breaking power for immediate stoppage.

Anti-lock Breaking System (ABS) – Computerized control of brakes that keeps the wheels from locking up and sliding.  The wheels continue to rotate just enough to keep from freezing and allows for faster stopping. 

Backhaul – Return to point of origin.

Bill of Lading – Contract between the shipper (consignor) and the receiver (consignee).

Blind Spot – Places not visible to the driver via the windshield, windows, nor mirrors.

Bobtail – A tractor without a trailer.

Break Bulk – Splitting a shipment into smaller shipments.

Break – Radio communication request to use the channel; for instance, “Breaker 19”, means a request to use channel 19.

CabOver – The cab of the vehicle that sits over the engine.

Cargo Weight – Equals weight of freight plus gear plus supplies on truck.

Carrier – The transportation service provider.

Cartage Company – This is a company that transports good within the local area only.

Channel 19 – A channel on the citizens band and perhaps the most popular channel.

Check Point Charlie – Radio communication for police check point.

Citizens Band Radio (CB) – 40 radio channels within the 27 MHz band used for short distance communications for the general public.

Combination Vehicle – A vehicle made up of two or more units. For example, a tractor and a trailer make up a combination vehicle.

Come Again – Radio communication asking that the message be repeated.

Come Back – Radio communication asking for a response.

Commercial Driver License (CDL) – Required to drive vehicles for commercial purposes. Divided into different classifications. 

Commercial Vehicle – Any vehicle that is doing business and carrying cargo.

Consignee – One who receives freight.

Consignor – One who sends freight.

Container – Rectangular box used to send freight by ship, train, or truck.  It is a separate unit from the truck and the trailer themselves.

Converter Dolly – A separate axle system with a fifth wheel used to connect two semitrailers for towing.

Convoy – Radio communication referring to 2 or more trucks heading in the same direction.

Copy – Radio communication for acknowledgement of message received.

County Mountie – Radio communication for Sheriff’s Department.

Cross Dock – A dock where freight is transferred to other trucks, without storing first.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid – Urea-based chemical used to reduce diesel emissions.

Distribution Center – Warehouse where goods are shipped out.

Dock Height – Standard height of most trailers and docks measured from the ground, usually 48” to 54”.

Domicile – Refers to home terminal.

DOT – Department of Transportation, federal agency responsible for regulating a federally funded highway.

Doubles – A truck towing two semitrailers that are connected by a converter dolly.

Double Nickel – Radio communication for 55 miles per hour.

Drive Axle – The two axles right behind the cab that receive power from the transmission.

Drop – A trailer that is delivered for loading or unloading.

Dry Van – The standard non-refrigerated trailer.

Dual Wheels – A pair of wheels on the same side of the axle.

Electric On-Board Recorder (EOBR) – An on-board device that record information such as speed, idle time, etc.

Exempt Carrier – A carrier that is not regulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Fifth Wheel – This is a sliding plate on the rear of the truck that has a slot for the trailer kingpin and locks the truck and the trailer together.

Flatbed – A trailer that is simply a flat platform on which to load items that cannot fit into a traditional enclosed trailer. Used for freight such as large machinery.

Fleet –  A group of trucks.

FMCSA – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Division of DOT tasked with safety regulations for commercial drivers.

For Hire Carrier – Third-party company that moves freight for senders.

Freight – Goods that are transported, also known as cargo or payload.

Freight All Kinds (FAK) – Mixed cargo.

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) – Combined weight of truck plus freight.

Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) – A material that the Environmental Protection Agency has classified as dangerous and regulated by the Department of Transportation.

HOV – A lane on interstates reserved primarily for cars and buses that carry two or more people.  Trucks normally are not allowed.

Hours of Service (HOS) –  A Department of Transportation regulation regarding the number of hours that commercial drivers work during interstate operations.

Hub Meter – An odometer attached to the axle of a trailer with the purpose of recording the mileage of the trailer.

Intermodal – Movement of freight by two or more means, for example, truck and ship, or rail and air.

Just In Time (JIT) – An accounting system that insures that materials are delivered shortly before they are sent out with the purpose of reducing inventory holding time and space.

Kingpin – A large steel pin that is welded to the front of a trailer and is locked into the truck’s fifth wheel.

Landing Gear – Two legs that roll down at the front of the trailer when the trailer is parked without the truck.

Less Than Truckload (LTL) – Freight typically weighing less than 10,000 pounds. Usually small shipments that are consolidated and moved via a network of terminals and relay points.

Less Than Truckload Carrier – A company that groups different LTL cargoes in one truck and delivers them to the various recipients. 

Liftgate – Motor driven platform at the end of a vehicl that lifts items between the ground and the bed.

Line Haul Driver – Typically a driver with a set daily route from city to city, also known as a regional driver.

Live Load – A condition where the truck and the trailer are at the dock being loaded or unloaded.

Local Driver – Runs a set route within a city, also known as a city driver or a pickup and delivery driver.

Logbook – A daily record of the drivers time for activities such as driving, off duty, on duty but not driving, etc.

Logistics – The management of trucking details; for instance, pickup point, delivery point, job assignment, routes, fueling point, weigh stations, etc.

Long Combination Vehicle (LCV) – Vehicles longer than standard doubles; for instance, two 48 foot trailers and three 28 foot trailers.

Lumpers – Third parties that aid in the unloading of freight.

Moving Violation – A traffic violation that relates to a vehicle in motion, like speeding.

Non-Moving Violation – A traffic violation that relates to a vehicle not in motion, like parking.

On-Board Computer (OBC) – A computer on a truck that communicates information about the truck itself, the driver, and the freight:  all done wirelessly.

Over The Road (OTR) – stands for over the road.

Overages, Shortages and Damages (OS&D) – a report that indicates freight as damaged, missing, or overstocked.

Over-The-Road Driver – A driver that drives cross country and sleeps out on the road; either in a hotel or in the sleeping quarters of his cab.  He averages about 100,000 miles per year.

Owner/Operator – A business where the owner of the truck is also the driver.

P & D – Pickup and delivery.

Payload – Weight of freight.

Peddle Run – Route with frequent deliveries.

Placard – A freight HAZMAT label.

Private Carrier – A company that owns its trucks for the purpose of transporting its products.  Trucking is not the company’s core business.

Professional Truck Driver – This term can mean a host of different types of drivers:  over the road, local, etc.

PU – Pickup.

Rocking Chair – Radio communication referring to the position of a truck within a convoy that is neither at the front nor at the back and is normally used as a term referring to hiding a truck from police detection.

Receiver – The one who receives the freight.

Reefer – A closed, insulated, and refrigerated trailer.

Semi-trailer – Trailer that has its own back wheels but is supported at the front by a fifth wheel.

Shipper – The one who sends the freight.

Shipping Manifest – a list of the items in a shipment.

Sleeper – A sleeping compartment that is either behind the cab or integral with the cab.

Sliding Fifth Wheel – A fifth wheel that can slide back and forth in order to distribute the weight of the freight on the various axles.

Smokey – Radio communication for policeman.

Steer Axle – Front axle of the truck.

Straight Truck – All axles are connected to the same chassis.

Super Single – Large, wide tires used to substitute for the pair of tires typically used.

Tandem Axle – Two rear trailer axles.

Tank (or Tanker) – A cylindrical trailer used to haul liquids.

TL Carrier – This is a trucking company that assigns one trailer per customer rather than take consolidated freight from multiple customers.  It is not a LTL carrier.

Tractor – The truck that pulls the trailer.

Tri-Axle – Truck or trailer with three grouped axles at the rear.

Trip Leasing – One transportation provider leasing a vehicle to another for one trip.

Truckload (TL) –  A full trailer.

Ton – 2,000 pounds.

Wrapper – Radio communication for color of a vehicle.


About The Author
Contributor: Richard Carranza (Technical writer for 25+ years with a background in trucking).