Trucking Industry Glossary
Welcome to our Comprehensive Trucking Industry Glossary. This extensive collection of terms and definitions has been curated to provide valuable insights into the unique language of the trucking industry.
Whether you’re a newcomer seeking to familiarize yourself with common jargon, a seasoned veteran looking to brush up on terminology, or an external stakeholder aiming to better understand the industry, this glossary is designed to serve as a reliable reference point.
The trucking industry plays a critical role in global trade and commerce, with its own distinct culture, protocols, and vernacular.
Understanding these specific terms and phrases is key to effective communication and successful operations within this sector.
This glossary is comprehensive, covering terms from regulatory bodies to types of vehicles, trucking operations, logistical terms, and beyond.
Arranged alphabetically, the glossary is easily navigable, allowing you to quickly locate the information you need.
Use this glossary as a handy tool to decode industry lingo, clarify meanings, or guide conversations in your professional interactions within the world of trucking.
Explore, learn, and let this glossary guide you through the intricate, dynamic, and vital world of the trucking industry.
- Accessorial Charges: Extra fees for transportation services such as fuel surcharges, inside delivery, waiting time, or storage.
- Aggregate Gross Weight: The total weight of a vehicle and its load.
- Air Brake: A type of brake that uses air (usually compressed) to function.
- Alligator: Pieces of a tire on the road. Also called ‘gators’.
- Asset-Based Carrier: A carrier that uses their own equipment and vehicles to transport freight.
- ATA (American Trucking Associations): The largest trade association for the trucking industry in the U.S.
- Authority: The legal permission given by the FMCSA to operate for hire.
- Average Length of Haul: The average distance (in miles) that freight is transported.
- Axle: The shaft on which the wheels revolve. In trucks, this can refer to a single, self-contained assembly of wheels, brakes, and suspension.
- Backhaul: The return trip of a truck transporting cargo or freight.
- Bill of Lading (BOL): This is a legal document between the shipper of a particular good and the carrier detailing the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried.
- Blind Spot: The area around a commercial truck where the driver has limited or zero visibility.
- Bobtail: When a semi-truck operates without the trailer attached.
- Breakbulk: A method of shipping where goods are loaded individually and not in containers.
- Broker: An individual or company that arranges for the transportation of goods by trucks for a fee.
- Cab: The driver’s compartment of a commercial truck.
- Cabover: A type of truck where the cab is situated over the engine, which allows for a shorter overall length.
- Carrier: A company that transports goods.
- CDL (Commercial Driver’s License): A driver’s license required in the United States to operate any type of vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lb (11,794 kg) or more.
- Common Carrier: A business or agency that is available to the public for transportation of goods.
- Consignee: The person or place where a shipment is to be delivered.
- Consignor: The person or place where a shipment is picked up or originates.
- Cross-Docking: The practice of unloading goods from an incoming semi-trailer truck or railroad car and loading these materials directly into outbound trucks, trailers, or rail cars, with little or no storage in between.
- Cube Out: When a trailer is filled to capacity with cargo but does not exceed the weight limit.
- Dead Mile: Miles a truck is driven without carrying freight. Also known as empty miles.
- Deadhead: Driving a truck without cargo.
- Dedicated Lane: A route in which a driver frequently travels. This could be daily, a few times a week, or even once or twice a month.
- Demurrage: The fee charged for holding a trailer for too long.
- Detention Time: The time a driver waits for a load to be loaded or unloaded. Carriers may charge a fee if this exceeds a certain amount of time.
- Dispatch: The act of sending a driver on a run.
- DOT (Department of Transportation): U.S. government body with various responsibilities in relation to transportation infrastructure, laws, and regulations.
- DOT Inspection: An examination of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) by the Department of Transportation to ensure safety compliance.
- Double Drop: A type of trailer designed to haul very large freight.
- Driver Log: A record of a driver’s hours of service.
- Drop and Hook: A method where a driver drops a loaded trailer at a customer’s facility and hooks to another trailer.
- Dry Van: A standard, enclosed semi-trailer for general freight hauling. It’s the most common type of freight trailer.
- ELD (Electronic Logging Device): A device installed in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to automatically record driving time and hours of service.
- Expedited: When freight is shipped faster than standard transit times.
- FAK (Freight of All Kinds): A mixture of different products shipped together in one shipment.
- FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration): A branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that regulates the trucking industry.
- Forced Dispatch: When a driver is assigned loads without a choice or say in the matter.
- FSC (Fuel Surcharge): A fee paid by the charterer of a ship for the cost of fuel.
- Full Truckload (FTL): A shipping method where a truck carries one dedicated shipment. In general, this implies that the shipment will fill an entire semi-trailer.
- GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight): The total weight of the vehicle and the payload of passengers and cargo.
- GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): The maximum operating weight of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer, including the vehicle’s chassis, body, engine, engine fluids, fuel, accessories, driver, passengers, and cargo, but excluding that of any trailers.
- Hazmat (Hazardous Materials): Dangerous goods that pose risk to health, safety, property, or the environment.
- HOS (Hours of Service): The maximum amount of time that a commercial driver can be on duty.
- Hot Shot: Expedited freight deliveries that are time-sensitive in nature.
- IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement): An agreement among states and Canadian provinces to simplify the reporting of fuel use taxes by interstate motor carriers.
- Inbond: A term used to denote goods which have not cleared customs, i.e., under bond.
- Intermodal: The process of transporting freight using two or more modes of transportation. Typically, this would be by truck and rail, or truck and oceangoing vessel.
- Jackknife: When a vehicle towing a trailer skids, and the trailer pushes from behind until it spins round and faces backwards.
- JIT (Just in Time): An inventory management strategy where materials are only ordered and received as they are needed in the production process.
- Kingpin: A coupling pin centered on the front underside of a truck trailer for connecting with the tractor.
- Lanes: The path or route that the driver uses to deliver cargo.
- LCL (Less than Container Load): A shipping term for smaller ocean freight shipments, where the cargo does not fill an entire container.
- Linehaul: The movement of freight over the road between two major cities.
- Live Load/Unload: A process where the driver waits for the cargo to be loaded into or unloaded from their trailer.
- LTL (Less Than Truckload): A shipping method where several smaller shipments are combined to fill a truck. Each shipment typically doesn’t fill more than a few pallets.
- Manifest: A document listing the cargo, passengers, and crew of a ship, aircraft, or vehicle, for the use of customs and other officials.
- MC Number (Motor Carrier Number): A number that identifies carriers operating in interstate and intrastate commerce and it is needed for the U.S. DOT number.
- Reefer: A refrigerated trailer with an attached and self-powered unit that maintains specific temperatures for transporting temperature-sensitive goods.
- Overdimensional Load (OD): A truck hauling cargo that exceeds the standard legal size limits for a road or highway.
- Owner-Operator: A self-employed driver who owns and operates their own trucking business.
- P&D Driver (Pickup and Delivery Driver): A truck driver who handles local or regional deliveries.
- Pallet Jack: A tool used to lift and move pallets.
- Payload: The weight of the load being hauled.
- Placard: A sign required on the sides, front, and rear of vehicles that transport hazardous materials.
- Pre-Haul: The act of preparing a truck or cargo for transport.
- Private Carrier: A business that operates trucks primarily for the purpose of transporting its own products and equipment.
- Proof of Delivery (POD): A receipt signed by the recipient of goods to acknowledge that they have been delivered.
- Public Scale: A scale that has been certified by the state for the weighing of vehicles.
- Rate Confirmation: A document that confirms the agreed upon amount that a carrier will be paid for a load.
- Reefer: A temperature-controlled trailer.
- Relay Driving: A driving system where a driver takes over a truck from another driver who has reached their maximum driving time.
- Roadrailer: A highway trailer, or semi-trailer, that is specially equipped for direct use on the railroad.
- Road Test: A test to show a person can drive safely, required to get a CDL.
- Rollover: A type of trucking accident where a truck tips over while rounding a curve or making a turn.
- RPM (Revolutions per Minute): A measure of the frequency of a rotation. It annotates the number of turns completed in one minute around a fixed axis.
- Satellite Tracking: The use of GPS technology to locate and track a vehicle or a fleet of vehicles.
- Shag: A short truck used for moving trailers around a terminal or warehouse yard.
- Shipper: The person or company who is usually the supplier or owner of commodities shipped.
- Short Haul: A trucking term for a route or trip that is of a relatively short distance.
- Sleeper: A sleeping compartment situated behind the cab.
- Sliding Fifth Wheel: A fifth wheel that can be moved forward or backward to redistribute weight on the tractor’s axles.
- Straight Truck: A truck, such as a box truck, with a cargo body mounted directly to the frame.
- Tandem: A configuration of two axles in which one is immediately followed by another.
- Terminal: A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their “home base” if you will. The terminal is where freight shipments are prepared for their next destination.
- Through Trailer: A trailer which is repositioned from origin to destination without changing the cargo from one vehicle to another.
- Tractor: The engine that powers the freight.
- Trailer: The part of the truck that carries the goods.
- Tractor-Trailer: A truck composed of a tractor (the front portion) and a trailer (the rear portion).
- Transloading: The process of transferring a shipment from one mode of transportation to another.
- Tri-Axle: A configuration of three axles grouped together.
- Turnpike Double: A type of trucking configuration that consists of a tractor and two long (usually 48 feet) trailers.
- TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential): A type of identification card required in the U.S. for workers who need access to secure areas in maritime facilities and vessels.
- Waybill: A document by a carrier of a shipment of goods that details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried.
- Weigh Station: A checkpoint along a highway to inspect vehicular weights, usually equipped with truck scales.
- Wharfage: A charge assessed by a pier or dock owner for handling incoming or outgoing cargo.
- Yard Jockey: A worker who operates a “yard truck” or “spotter truck”, maneuvering trailers around a terminal yard.
- Yard: An area where trailers are parked, loaded, and unloaded.
- Yaw: The movement of the top of a vehicle from side to side, more commonly known as swaying.
- Yield: The total weight of product that is loaded onto a vehicle for delivery.
- Z-Plate: A special license plate issued in the United States for truck tractors that allows them to pull any kind of semi-trailer.
- Zone-Hopping: A practice in trucking where the driver will load and unload within the same area or zone to increase their rate of pay.
- Zone Rate: A rate for transportation service based on the geographical area.
As we reach the end of this Comprehensive Trucking Industry Glossary, we hope you’ve found this resource to be both informative and helpful.
With more than 100 terms ranging from regulatory language to operational lingo, we’ve aimed to provide a thorough overview of the rich vocabulary that fuels the trucking industry.
Understanding the terminology in this industry can aid in more effective communication, deeper comprehension of industry protocols, and an overall stronger connection with the trucking community.
With this glossary at your disposal, we trust you’ll feel more confident navigating conversations and operations in this field.
While this glossary is comprehensive, it’s important to remember that the trucking industry, like many others, is continually evolving, and new terms may emerge as technologies and practices advance.
Staying up-to-date with these changes is a crucial part of remaining effective and competitive.
In conclusion, whether you are just embarking on your journey in the trucking industry or you are a seasoned professional, we hope this glossary has expanded your knowledge and enriched your understanding of this crucial industry. Happy trucking!
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