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Truck Driving Terminology

Each profession has its own set of words and phrases that help members of the profession communicate with each other effectively. Like doctors, lawyers and pilots, truck drivers also have their own special language they use to communicate. Our CDL training programs introduce new drivers to the terminology they will use as professional truck drivers. This special “lingo” is spoken by carriers, drivers and even the staff at truck stops. It’s just another part of the lifestyle that makes professional truck driving rewarding.


Average Length of Haul

This is how many miles a company’s average distance is between pick-up and delivery points.


An individual, partnership, or corporation engaged in the business of transporting goods or persons.


Two-way radio for which no license is required by the FCC.


Commercial Driver’s License

Class A

Refers to type of commercial driver’s license allowing an individual to drive tractor trailers.

Common Carrier

Freight transportation company which serves the general public. May be a regular or irregular route.

Dedicated Run

This refers to a driver pulling freight for one specific customer, usually the same pick up and drop off points.


The scheduling and control of intercity traffic and intracity pick-up and delivery.


Department of Transportation

Drop and Hook

This is a term used to refer to when a driver simply “drops” his trailer at a customer location and “hooks” to another trailer.

Drop Yard

This is a small area of land that trucking companies own and allows for drivers to park their trucks and trailers on it.

Dry Freight


Forced Dispatch

This is a term used to define that a driver does NOT have the ability to accept or decline load assignments.

Freight Lane

These are the common areas where trucking companies run in and around delivering freight.

Fuel Bonus

These are bonuses given by trucking companies to drivers who can exceed a pre-set MPG average.


Global Positioning System


Hazardous Materials, as classified by the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Transport of hazardous materials is strictly regulated by the US Department of Transportation.

Hours of Service

U.S. Department of Transportation safety regulations which govern the hours of service of commercial vehicle drivers engaged in interstate trucking operations.

Hub Miles

Refers to the actual amount of miles a driver runs as per the odometer.


Between states.


Within a state.

Irregular Route Common Carrier

A phrase used to describe a carrier that will haul freight from anywhere to anywhere with no set routes.


To place the trailer at a very sharp angle to the tractor.

Layover Pay

Paid to a driver who is available for dispatch, but has no load assignment.

Layover Time

The non-working time that a road driver spends away from his home terminal before being dispatched to some other destination.

Lease Purchase

Method of purchasing a rig from a regulated carrier, whereby rent (paid to the carrier for the privilege of using the cab) is applied to the principle owed.


This is the freight that the driver is pulling in the trailer.

Loaded Miles

Distance traveled with a loaded trailer.


Process of systematizing information to facilitate the efficient and cost-effective flows of goods and services to produce customer satisfaction.

LTL (Less-than-Truckload)

A quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a truckload (TL) rate; usually less than 10,000 pounds.

LTL Carrier

Trucking company which consolidates less-than-truckload cargo for multiple destinations on one vehicle.


Person who can load/unload the truck.


An acronym for Motor Vehicle Report. These are used to determine a drivers history and hiring eligibility.

No Touch

A term used to refer to how much freight a driver is responsible to load or unload themselves.



Pre Pass

This is an electronic system in trucks that allows for drivers to bypass scales (weigh stations).


This is a word that often refers to Satellite Communications. Qualcomm is considered the largest supplier of these systems.

Regional Run

This refers to a type of driving position when a driver is kept with in a region, such as the southeast.


The course or direction that a shipment moves.

Satellite Communication Systems

These are on board computers that help with mapping, two-way communication with dispatch and even e-mail.


A facility including building structures, and equipment for the storage transfer, handling, delivery, and reception of vehicles and materials.

TL (Truckload)

The quantity of freight required to fill a trailer; usually more than 10,000 pounds.

TL Carrier

Trucking company which dedicates trailers to a single shipper’s cargo, as opposed to an LTL carrier.

Yard Jockey

Person who operates a yard tractor.

Yard Tractor (Yard Goat)

Special tractor used to move trailers around a terminal, warehouse, distribution center, etc.


Truck Specific Terms


18 Wheeler

Refers to the amount of tires and wheels on a tractor-trailer combination.

ABS (Antilock Braking System)

Helps the driver retain control of the vehicle during heavy braking on slippery roads.

Air Ride Suspension

Suspension which supports the load on air-filled rubber bags, rather than steel springs.


A tractor operating without a trailer. Also referred to as a straight truck.

Bogie (Bogey)

Assembly of two or more axles, usually a pair in tandem.


This refers to a tractor type that has no “nose” or extended hood. Very uncommon type of tractors now a days.

Combination Vehicle

An equipment configuration which includes a tractor combined with a trailer.


This refers to a type of tractor that would have the extended hood or “nose” in the front.

Converter Dolly (Dolly)

Auxiliary axle assembly equipped with a fifth wheel (coupling device), towed by a semi trailer and supporting the front of, and towing, another semi trailer.

Doubles (Twins, Twin Trailers)

Combination of a tractor and two semi trailers connected in tandem by a converter dolly.

Fifth Wheel

A coupling device used to connect a semi-trailer and tractor.


Pin around which a steer axle’s wheels pivot.

Landing Gear

Retracting legs which support the front of a semi trailer when it is not coupled to a tractor.

Lowboy (Low-Bed Trailer)

Open truck trailer constructed to provide a low platform height. Designed for the transportation of extremely heavy/bulky property.


Cable used to transmit electrical power from the tractor to the trailer. So named because it is coiled like a pig’s tail.

Pup Trailer

Short semi trailer, usually between 26 and 32 feet long, with a single axle.


A refrigerated trailer with insulated walls and a self-powered refrigeration unit. Most commonly used for transporting food.


Truck, tractor semi-trailer truck, and full trailer, or other combinations.


A truck trailer supported at the rear by its own wheels and at the front by a fifth wheel mounted to a tractor or dolly.

Sliding Fifth Wheel

Fifth wheel mounted to a mechanism that allows it to be moved back and forth for the purpose of adjusting the distribution of weight on the tractor’s axles. Also provides the capability to vary vehicle combination lengths.

Sliding Tandem (Slider)

Mechanism that allows a tandem axle suspension to be moved back and forth at the rear of a semi trailer, for the purpose of adjusting the distribution of weight between the axles and fifth wheel.

Straight 10

10 speed transmission.

Super 10

Refers to a type of 10 speed transmission found in tractors.


A cab; the engine-powered vehicle used to pull a trailer.

Tractor Trailer

Tractor and semi-trailer combination.


The part of the vehicle used to haul goods and hooked up to an engine-powered tractor.


Truck, tractor, or trailer with 3 axles grouped together at the rear.

Trip Recorder (On-Board Computer)

Cab-mounted device which electronically or mechanically records data such as truck speed, engine rpm, idle time and other information useful to trucking management.

Truck (Straight Truck)

Vehicle which carries cargo in a body mounted to its chassis, rather than on a trailer towed by the vehicle.

Driver Specific Terms



This is a report run by trucking companies to find out about one’s potential criminal background, though not always accurate.


Class A truck driver

Assigned Equipment

When a trucking company assigns one truck to one driver and no one else will operate that truck other than the assigned driver.


Driver’s compartment of a truck or tractor-trailer.


This an alternative way for a driver to receive his paycheck instead of payroll deposit.

DAC Report

This is a report that tells the commercial driving history of truck drivers.


Operating a truck without cargo.

Double Clutching

Double clutching is a shifting technique that promotes smoother transitions and lower transmission wear. It is useful for road racing, prolonging transmission life, and giving you an overall smoother ride.

Down Time

This is when a driver has time when they are not driving, usually because of weather and load delays.

Driver Trainer

After a student graduates, they are expected to travel with an experienced driver for several weeks, referred to as a driver trainer.


This refers to types of amendments on a CDL to allow for the transportation of Haz-Mat, operation of Air Brake equipped trucks, etc.

First Seat Driver

This is a driver who has been deemed qualified to drive a tractor trailer solo and without a co-driver.

Flip Flop

Trucker’s return trip.

Home Time

The time a driver gets to spend at home after driving a route. In an OTR position, the rule of thumb is you are home for one day for every week you’re on the road.


A book carried by truck drivers containing daily records of hours, routes, etc. Logbooks are required by ICC regulations.

Passenger Program

These are programs that trucking companies have in place that allows for a driver to bring someone with them on trips.


Refers to the pre-trip inspection of the truck; should inspect before you take off each time.

Scholarship Program

This is a program that student can take by having the trucking company pay the tuition in return for the signing of a contract.

Sleeper (Bunk)

Sleeping compartment mounted behind a truck cab, sometimes attached to the cab or even designed to be an integral part of it.

Sleeper Cab

A truck tractor or truck cab incorporating a bed or bunk.

Team (Driver Team)

Team of two drivers who alternate driving and resting.