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Trucking Definitions

New terminology for you to learn!

We’ll keep this short and sweet.

It seems as though every industry has their own language. Although, in the trucking industry, there are no lack of secret terms in the truck driver glossary. Here’s our Glossary of trucking terms!


  • ABS (Anti-Lock Braking Systems) – Short application of pressure to prevent wheels from locking up during braking, helps the driver retain control of the truck during heavy braking in slippery conditions
  • Air Ride Suspension – Air Bag suspension system to provide a smoother ride, especially when hauling delicate freight
  • Axles – A steel shaft or pole that connects the wheels on the opposite sides of a truck
  • Backhaul – A load that is returned
  • BOL (Bill of Lading) – A receipt given to the person receiving the goods by the carrier
  • Bobtailing – A truck without a trailer driving down the road
  • CB Radio (Citizens Band) – A type of radio that allows drivers to communicate over a short distance range
  • CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) – A license that authorizes a driver to operate commercial motor vehicles over 26,000 lbs
  • Coupling – Tool used when hauling doubles, connects a tractor to a trailer, or a trailer to a trailer 
  • Dispatcher – A person who coordinates and organizes schedules of drivers to make sure freight is picked up and delivered in a timely manner
  • Dock – Part of a warehouse where a truck loads or unloads freight
  • DOT (Department of Transportation) – A segment of the U.S. Government that helps keep the maintenance and growth of transportation for the public
  • Drop & Hook – Taking a container that is full of freight and dropping it at a facility, then proceeds to hook up another trailer that is already loaded at the same location
  • Doubles – Another term for twin trailers, a combination of one tractor and two trailers
  • Drayage – The Transport of goods over a short distance in the shipping and logistics industries
  • ELD (Electronic Logging Device) – An electronic hardware fastened to a truck to record drive time
  • FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) – Council that is responsible for construction, upkeep, and the management of highways, bridges, and tunnels
  • Freight – Goods that are transferred typically by trains, ships, aircraft, or in our case truck
  • Hazmat – Classified as Hazardous materials freight, a driver will be required to have a Hazmat endorsement on his CDL
  • JackKnife – Is when the truck is at an acute tight angle with the trailer
  • Jake Brake – An apparatus on a diesel engine that creates compression to slow the truck without using brakes, especially on downgrades
  • Kingpin – A rather large steel pin jutting out from the underside of a trailer that latches into the trucks fifth wheel
  • Logbook – A book truck drivers use to record their trucking hours, such as driving hours and sleeper berth
  • Line-Haul Driver – Long Distance transport of freight between cities in different states
  • LTL (Less than Truckload) – Small shipments of freight from various customers that are combined before transport
  • Local Driver – Truck driver who picks up and delivers freight along a city route, running the same route every day but return home each night
  • Odometer – Sometimes referred to as a trip meter, a device that calculates the distance a vehicle has traveled
  • Owner-Operator – Driver who owns their own truck, may driver for a company or independently
  • POD (Proof of Delivery) – Paperwork that shows proof that a load was delivered, typically will have confirmation date, time, and a signature of the delivery acceptance
  • P&D – Pickup and delivery
  • Reefer – A insulated trailer that has the capabilities to regulate the temperature inside for certain freight such as food
  • Scales – Where trucks are randomly weighed or have mechanical inspections
  • Skid – Another way of saying pallet, which is how most freight is transported
  • Sleeper – A section of the truck behind the tractor cab that contains a sleeping department, also known as a sleeper berth
  • Sliding Fifth Wheel – A fifth wheel with a sliding ability to allow it to be properly adjusted to distribute weight of the axles
  • Speedometer – The tool on a vehicle’s dashboard that shows the speed the vehicle is traveling
  • Straight Truck – A truck that is entirely one piece, also known as a box truck
  • Tandem – Axles that are closely grouped together, either on a tractor or trailer
  • Tractor – A large vehicle in the trucking industry designed to particularly pull a semi-trailer by the use of a fifth wheel
  • Tractor Trailer – A combination vehicle, in the trucking industry it consists of a tractor and a trailer
  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) – Identification number assigned to vehicles and trailers to differentiate them from other motor vehicles



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