Trucking Glossary Terms: The Most Essential Terms

8 min read
Trucking Glossary Terms: The Most Essential Terms

Embarking on a career in trucking? Whether you're a seasoned driver or just starting out, understanding the language of the road is crucial. In this simple guide, we'll break down common trucking terms to make your journey smoother and more enjoyable.


  • Definition: Extra services, such as waiting or unloading, that may come with additional charges.

  • Example: "Sometimes, waiting for cargo or unloading takes extra time, and that's when accessorials come into play."

Anti Lock Braking System (ABS):

  • Definition: A safety system that helps trucks brake without skidding.

  • Example: "ABS keeps the wheels from sliding when you hit the brakes, making it safer to stop."

Axle Weight:

  • Definition: The weight on a single truck axle, following rules to avoid road damage.

  • Example: "We need to distribute the load evenly to stay within the axle weight limits and keep the roads safe."


  • Definition: Returning with cargo after delivering a load.

  • Example: "After dropping off goods, you might get a backhaul, bringing something back on your return journey."

Bill of Lading:

  • Definition: A legal paper listing details about the cargo being transported.

  • Example: "The bill of lading tells you what's in the truck, where it's going, and how much there is."

Blind Shipment:

  • Definition: When the shipper and receiver don't know each other.

  • Example: "In a blind shipment, the people sending and receiving the goods don't have each other's details."


  • Definition: Driving a truck without a trailer.

  • Example: "When you're driving without a trailer, it's called bobtailing."

Bulk Freight:

  • Definition: Goods like grain or coal that aren't packaged.

  • Example: "Bulk freight means carrying things like grains or coal that aren't in boxes or packages."


  • Definition: The front part of the truck where the driver sits.

  • Example: "The cab is where the driver sits and drives the truck."


  • Definition: A special trailer for moving containers.

  • Example: "Chassis trailers are designed for carrying big containers from ships or trains on the road."

Commercial Driver's License (CDL):

  • Definition: The official license needed to legally drive large or specialized trucks.

  • Example: "To drive big trucks legally, you must have a Commercial Driver's License or CDL."


  • Definition: Any item being transported.

  • Example: "Commodity just means whatever you're carrying in your truck, like toys, food, or clothes."


  • Definition: The person or place where the delivery is going.

  • Example: "The consignee is the one waiting to receive the delivery at its destination."


  • Definition: The person or place where the shipment starts.

  • Example: "The consignor is where the shipment begins its journey, sending goods to their destination."


  • Definition: A large box for shipping goods on trucks, trains, or ships.

  • Example: "Containers are like big boxes that can be carried on trucks, trains, or ships, making it easier to move goods."


  • Definition: Driving without any cargo.

  • Example: "When you're driving back to the starting point without carrying anything, it's called deadhead."

Dedicated Lane:

  • Definition: A specific route for a particular delivery company.

  • Example: "A dedicated lane is a regular route that a trucker follows for a specific company."


  • Definition: A fee for taking too long to load or unload.

  • Example: "If you take too much time loading or unloading, you might have to pay demurrage fees."


  • Definition: Waiting time beyond the scheduled pickup or delivery time.

  • Example: "Detention is when you have to wait longer than expected, and it's usually charged if it goes on for too long."


  • Definition: Transporting goods over a short distance, often as part of a longer journey.

  • Example: "Drayage involves moving goods a short distance, usually from a port to a nearby warehouse."

Hotshot Loads:

  • Definition: Small and urgent loads that need quick delivery.

  • Example: "Hotshot loads are small shipments that need to be delivered fast, often on smaller vehicles like pickup trucks or trailers."

Hours of Service (HOS):

  • Definition: Regulations by FMCSA limiting when and how long truck drivers can drive.

  • Example: "Following hours of service rules ensures drivers get enough rest and keeps everyone on the road safe."

IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement):

  • Definition: An agreement simplifying fuel tax reporting for carriers operating in multiple jurisdictions.

  • Example: "IFTA makes it easier for truckers to report and pay fuel taxes when they travel across different states or provinces."


  • Definition: Moving freight using multiple modes of transportation, like trucks and trains.

  • Example: "Intermodal transportation involves using different ways of moving goods, making it more flexible and efficient."


  • Definition: A dangerous situation where a truck and its trailer fold together.

  • Example: "Jackknifing is when the truck and trailer fold at the connection point, which can be very dangerous."


  • Definition: A coupling pin connecting the trailer to the truck.

  • Example: "The kingpin is the piece that keeps the trailer connected to the truck and allows it to pivot."

Landing Gear:

  • Definition: Legs supporting the front of a semi-trailer when it's not attached to a tractor.

  • Example: "Landing gear helps support the front of the trailer when it's not connected to the truck."


  • Definition: A specific route for shipping goods between two points.

  • Example: "A lane is like a highway for shipping, defining the route goods take from one place to another."


  • Definition: The period when a driver stays overnight during pickup or dropoff.

  • Example: "A layover is when a driver spends the night waiting at the pickup or dropoff location."

Less than Truckload (LTL):

  • Definition: A shipment not needing the entire space of a truck.

  • Example: "LTL means you're only using part of the truck for your shipment because it's not that big."


  • Definition: Moving freight over the road from one location to another, excluding pickup and delivery service.

  • Example: "Linehaul is the main part of the journey, moving goods from one place to another without extra stops."


  • Definition: A record of a driver's hours of service.

  • Example: "The logbook helps drivers keep track of their driving hours and rest breaks, ensuring they stay within legal limits."


  • Definition: A trailer type sitting lower to the ground for transporting taller loads.

  • Example: "Lowboy trailers are designed to carry taller loads, and they sit lower to the ground for stability."


  • Definition: A person hired to load and unload the truck, often at a warehouse or distribution center.

  • Example: "A lumper is someone who helps load and unload your truck, especially at big warehouses."


  • Definition: A document listing cargo, passengers, and crew for customs and other officials.

  • Example: "The manifest is like a checklist showing what's on the truck and who's on board, used for customs and other official checks."

Owner Operator:

  • Definition: A truck driver who owns and operates their own trucking business.

  • Example: "An owner-operator is a driver who owns their own truck and runs their own business, calling the shots on the road."


  • Definition: The weight of the cargo being hauled.

  • Example: "Payload is how much weight your truck is carrying, including the goods and everything else on board."

Per Diem:

  • Definition: A daily allowance covering essential expenses like meals and incidentals.

  • Example: "Per diem helps cover your daily expenses on the road, like meals and small things you might need."

Power Only:

  • Definition: Providing only the tractor part to haul a company's trailer.

  • Example: "Power only means you're providing the engine power without the trailer, hauling a company's trailer with your own truck."


  • Definition: A refrigerated trailer used for temperature-sensitive cargo.

  • Example: "A reefer trailer is like a mobile refrigerator, keeping things like fruits and veggies fresh during transport."


  • Definition: When a load is moved to the next day or a later time.

  • Example: "Rolling a load means it's moved to a later time or day, maybe because of delays or scheduling changes."


  • Definition: A compartment attached to the cab where drivers can rest or sleep.

  • Example: "The sleeper is a cozy space behind the driver's seat where you can catch some rest during long trips."


  • Definition: A set of two axles, one immediately following the other.

  • Example: "Tandem axles provide extra support, with one set of wheels following closely behind another for stability."


  • Definition: A document setting rules, rates, and charges for moving goods.

  • Example: "A tariff is like a rulebook that tells you how much it costs to move goods and what rules you need to follow."

TMS (Transportation Management System):

  • Definition: A software platform streamlining and optimizing transportation operations.

  • Example: "A TMS helps truckers plan routes, select carriers, and manage the logistics of moving goods efficiently."

TONU (Truck Order Not Used):

  • Definition: A fee charged when a carrier reserves a truck, but the shipment is canceled.

  • Example: "If you reserve a truck for a job, but the job gets canceled, you might face a TONU fee for the unused truck."


  • Definition: The process of transferring a shipment from one mode of transportation to another.

  • Example: "Transloading involves moving goods from one type of transportation, like a ship, to another, like a truck or train."


  • Definition: Two trailers pulled by one tractor, also known as "double bottoms."

  • Example: "Twins are like having two trailers hooked up to one truck, making it more efficient to move more goods at once."

Yard Jockey:

  • Definition: A person operating a yard truck (or hostler) that moves trailers within a terminal or warehouse yard.

  • Example: "A yard jockey is like a pro at moving trailers around within a big warehouse or terminal yard."

These terms are like the roadmap in the trucking world. Keep them in mind, and you'll be cruising through your trucking adventures with confidence. Onward to more successful and safe journeys! Happy trucking!