A specialized set of jargon describe the tools, equipment, and employment sectors used in the trucking industry in the United States. Some terms may be used within other English-speaking countries, or within the freight industry in general (air, rail, ship, and manufacturing). For example, shore power is a term borrowed from shipping terminology, in which electrical power is transferred from shore to ship, instead of the ship relying upon idling its engines. Drawing power from land lines is more efficient than engine idling and eliminates localized air pollution. Another borrowed term is "landing gear" (from the aviation industry), which refers to the legs which support the front end of a semi-trailer when it is not connected to a semi-truck. Some nicknames are obvious wordplay, such as "portable parking lot", in reference to a truck that carries automobiles.
A paper document between a shipper and a carrier acknowledging the receipt of goods for transport. Usually describes the nature of the cargo; hazardous materials classification (if any); amount of cargo by weight, size, and/or number of pallets, boxes, barrels, etc; and the origin and destination of the cargo.
Operating a tractor unit with no trailer attached.
A person or company that arranges for the truck transportation of cargo belonging to others, using for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation.
An agreement between a consignee and a consignor in which the goods are taken responsibility for and transported by a third party, the carrier. May also simply refer to the consigned goods (i.e., the cargo).
A wooden (or sometimes plastic) platform on which boxes or cargo are stacked and sometimes shrink-wrapped. Usually refers to the entire palletized stack of boxes, although it can refer to the platform itself.
Consignee, importer, or buyer (who may or may not be the same) named in the bill of lading as the party responsible for receiving a shipment.
A plastic pallet
A consignor, exporter, or seller (who may or may not be the same) named in the bill of lading as the party responsible for initiating a shipment.
A dock or hub where freight originates, terminates, or is handled in the transportation process; or a location where motor carriers maintain operating facilities.
A semi-truck (powered unit) used to pull a load or semi-trailer (unpowered unit) by means of a fifth wheel mounted over the rear axle(s) in a semi-truck/semi-trailer combination.
Truck Stop Electrification (TSE)
The capability to connect a truck to a land-based electric power supply (“Shore power”) at a truck stop. Eliminates the need for engine idling while parked, and in the case of IdleAire, also supplies land-based climate control within the truck cab, as well as Internet and TV access.
A for-hire carrier that is obligated to serve the general public.
Employee of a carrier who is assigned to drive company-owned trucks.
A for-hire carrier contracted to one particular shipper. A contract carrier enters into a contract whose terms are negotiated between a specific carrier and specific customer.
A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Regular route drivers usually are at home on regular intervals, given the scheduled nature of their routes.
A licensed carrier that holds itself out to hire under either a public tariff for the general public (for-hire common carrier) or under a contract filed with a specific shipper (contract carrier). For-hire carriers must apply for operating authority with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
A driver or carrier who specializes in, or a load composed of many different types of cargo, each typically weighing less than 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg), with many different destinations. Generally involves the use of terminal facilities to break and consolidate shipments. A LTL driver normally has a dedicated or regional route.
A person or company providing transportation of property or passengers using commercial motor vehicles.
A driver or carrier who transports cargo to any place at any time, without prescribed schedules or routes. Long-Haul OTR involves being away for weeks, or months at a time, often cross-country or international (Canada and Mexico), given the unscheduled nature of their routes.
A not-for-hire carrier contracted to or owned by a shipper that does not offer services to the general public, and operates primarily to transport its own goods. Private carriers are not required to obtain operating authority by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
A driver or carrier who transports cargo in a limited geographical area, usually within a certain radius of one's own home or company terminal, and may or may not maintain a schedule.
A truck with a bucket-like cargo area which the front can be raised, hinging on the rear, allowing the load to slide (“dump”) out of the cargo area. Often a strait truck, semi-trailers are also common. Flatbeds and refuse container trucks can often “dump”, but are rarely called that.
This term is derived from the number of tires that the typical OTR tractor-trailer configuration has. See also semi-truck.
An articulated (jointed) combination vehicle, often composed of a 6-wheeled (three axle) tractor and an 4-wheeled (two axle) trailer. There are also two axle tractors, single axle trailers, and occasionally combinations with extra lift axles. In some applications a semi can pull additional full trailers (doubles and triples)
A single vehicle, with no articulation. Normally 2 or 3 axles, sometimes with lift axles.
A partition or separator within a liquid tank, used to inhibit the flow of fluids within the tank. During acceleration, turning, and braking, a large liquid-filled tank may produce unexpected forces on the vehicle due to the inertia of liquids.
A strong wall-like structure placed at the front of a flatbed trailer (or on the rear of the tractor) used to protect the driver against shifting cargo during a front-end collision. May also refer to any separator within a dry or liquid trailer (also called a baffle for liquid trailers) used to partition the load.
A pair of tire and wheel assemblies mounted side-by-side on a single axle hub. In some applications it is replaced by a super single. On pickup trucks it is sometimes called a dually). The assembly has a greater load carrying ability as compared to a single wheel. It also provides redundancy so if one of the two tires fail the second will maintain support preventing loss of vehicle control and allowing the vehicle to travel to a repair facility.
A braking system that utilizes the back pressure from the engine's pistons to slow down the vehicle. Commonly used to prevent heavy trucks from accelerating out of control while driving on steep downhill grades.
The portion of the truck's interior designated for sleeping, legally must contain a bed.
A single, larger wheel, substituted for a tandem assembly. The main benefit of a super single is a reduction in weight; combined with lower rolling resistance the super single promises better fuel economy. The disadvantage is the lack of tire redundancy from which tandem wheels benefit, as tire failure can disable the vehicle and increased highway wear, through the high point loading and scrubbing of road surfaces when making tight turns
A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT
A simple, enclosed box of standardized sizes, used for intermodal transport.
Container skeletal carrier
A skeletal trailer composed of a simple chassis for the mounting of an intermodal container.
A flatbed with specially fitted side plates and curved ribs supporting a tarp covering, commonly referred to as a "side kit". Named for the resemblance to horse-drawn covered wagons.
Can be either a dry box with tarp sides, or a flatbed with a movable frame of squared ribs supporting a tarp.
A double dropdeck flatbed trailer
A specialized dry van that maximizes interior space, with a lowered floor and higher roof. Normally used to transport bulky, relatively light cargo, such as furniture and electronics.
A specialized trailer with 2 floors to allow for more cargo space.
Twin pup trailers
A trailer between 26 feet (7.9 m) and 29 feet (8.8 m) long that can be used singularly as a delivery trailer in congested areas or in combination with another trailer for over the road.
A standard dry van trailer
A flatbed with a lowered deck, featuring a raised step at the front, where the trailer attaches to the fifth wheel.
A variation of the liquid tank trailer, with a funnel-shaped bottom, used for hauling bulk quantities of dry powder (sometimes called bulk pneumatic). Usually loaded through holes in the top, unloaded through the bottom or through pneumatic force.
A simple, enclosed non-climate controlled rectangular trailer that carries general cargo, including food and other products that do not require refrigeration. Usually loaded/unloaded through the rear doors, requiring elevated access for forklifts to enter the trailer.
A bucket-like trailer with an open top for loading, commonly used for hauling bulk quantities of dirt, rock, gravel, etc. See dump truck.
A flat trailer with no enclosure or doors. Can be loaded/unloaded from the sides or above, and does not require elevated access for forklifts.
A rectangular enclosure with sides featuring numerous ventilation holes, an interior with multiple levels, and usually a ramp in the rear for loading/unloading. Used for hauling cows, pigs, sheep, etc.
A dry van with solid or openable roof with a moveable mechanized floor for unloading.
A specialized trailer, used for transporting logs, consisting of a basic chassis with vertical stakes along the sides to hold the logs in place. There are several types of timber trailers: Long wood trailers; Usually with four stakes, but can have more, evenly spaced for tree length logs to carried longwise on the trailer; Short wood trailers, with two separated sets of four of stakes, commonly referred to as a double bunk, and piggyback trailers. These trailers can be self loaded onto the back of a truck