A Guide to Trucking Terms

When cruising down the highways, drivers must communicate quickly about the weather conditions, hazards, truck parts, type of vehicles, accidents and others. Trucking terms help truck drivers communicate more efficiently, preparing them for journeys on the road. They are words or phrases that describe a thing or concept in the trucking industry. Also called trucker lingo, the terms are an essential part of trucking culture and helpful to the drivers.

Trucking terms keep evolving as the trucking industry keeps adding new jargon as required. Here at Truck Driver News, we understand that the terminologies are difficult to grasp, especially if you have just started out your career in the industry.

In this blog, we have compiled trucker terminologies so you can smoothly lay your course in the industry.

The Most Common Trucking Terms from A-Z.

Truckers use different terms to define the type of vehicle, weather, traffic and others. The most common trucker terms are:


  • Air Freight– Goods carried by aircraft.
  • Air-Ride Suspension– The type of suspension that uses airbags or compression to improve ride quality.
  • Axle– Rod connecting wheels on opposite sides and supporting the vehicle’s weight
  • Axle Rating– The weight limit on an axle or group of axles.
  • Anchor It– Hitting the break for an emergency stop.
  • ABS– Anti-lock Braking System helps drivers brake safer while driving in rough climates through the short application of pressure preventing wheels from locking up during braking.


  • Backhaul– The load that the driver returns to their home city or near the company’s home terminal.
  • Bill of Lading– A bill of lading is a contract provided by a transportation company to a shipper outlining the quantity, type, and destination of the shipped goods.
  • Bear– A law enforcement officer, a state trooper, or a highway patrol.
  • Black Ice– Patchy ice on the road surface.
  • Black Eye– Truck with non-functioning headlight.
  • Bobtail– A tractor running without a trailer.
  • Bogie– A frame that attaches a set of wheels to another trailer.
  • Bunk Cab– Sleeper truck.
  • Bull Hauler– Trucks that haul cows and bulls.
  • Ballon Freight– Cargo that takes a lot of space but is light.
  • Blind Spot– Areas not visible to the driver through the windshield, side windows, or mirrors
  • Bunny Hopper- A truck that changes lanes constantly


  • Cab Card– A card providing evidence of truck registration in every state.
  • CB Radio– A two-way radio system used by truckers for reporting emergency calls and weather.
  • Coop– A weigh station.
  • Cabover– Cabover is a short form for cab over engine, which means the truck has a vertical front.
  • Converter Dolly– Assembly connecting trailer in double or triple trailers.
  • Cargo Manifest– Document containing the list of cargo on the truck.
  • CAT Scale– Certified Automated Truck(CAT) Scale is used to read the weight in the load.
  • Coupling– Hooking a tractor to a trailer
  • Cheese Wagon– School bus.


  • Deadheading– Driving a trailer without any cargo.
  • Dolly- A coupling device that hooks two trailers together.
  • Drop Pay– Extra payment for the delivery.
  • Double– A combination of two semi-trailers connected.
  • Demurrage– Additional charge created by the carrier to seek compensation for extra use of their time and equipment.
  • Double Nickel- It means the speed limit is 55 miles per hour.


  • Expediting- Specialized transportation segment for time-sensitive shipments.
  • Excise Tax– Tax added on specific goods like tobacco, beer, gasoline, diesel, and more.
  • Empty Call– The call you place to your dispatcher to let them know that you have finished unloading and require a new assignment for your next load.
  • Escort– A vehicle assisting in hauling oversized shipments.


  • Fingerprinting– When the drivers unload the cargo themselves.
  • Fifth Wheel– Coupling device attached to the tractor, which supports the front of the semi-trailer.
  • For hire Carrier– A company that transports third-party cargo.
  • Fixed Tandem– Assembly of two axles and suspension attached to the chassis in one place.
  • Freight Shaker– Freightliner truck
  • Factoring– A company that provides cash in exchange for invoices but deducts a certain percentage as a service charge.
  • Floating Gears– Changing gear without shifting gears.


  • Glad-Hands– A coupling device used to connect the service and supply lines of the trailer to the truck or tractor.
  • Glider Kit– A truck with a rebuilt engine and transmission.
  • Grandfather Clause– An exception in the current rule that allows the old law to be applicable.
  • Grade– The ratio between elevation change and distance to hill.
  • Gooseneck– A flatbed trailer with a protruding neck connecting to the fifth wheel.


  • Hanging Iron– Securing load on a flatbed trailer with binders or chains.
  • Headache Rack– A steel rack attached to back of the truck.
  • Header Board– A steel rack attached to front of the truck.
  • High Cube– A dry van measuring 14 feet tall instead of 13.5, which is standard height.
  • Hot Load– A shipment that needs to be delivered as soon as possible.


  • Icing Charge– Additional charge for adding ice to any time-sensitive, perishable cargo
  • In Bond– Shipment that still needs to clear customs.
  • Interstate– Cargo that travels between different states.
  • Intrastate– Cargo that travels within the same state.


  • Jackknife– The folding of a tractor and trailer to an acute point.
  • Jake Brake– A type of brake in a diesel engine that uses compression to slow a vehicle without using the service brake.


  • Kingpin – Large steel pin at the front of the trailer used to lock into the tractor’s fifth wheel.


  • Landing Gear – Retractable legs supporting a trailer when it is not hooked.
  • Layover– Any off-duty time while away from home.
  • Lease– Contract agreement between a lessee and lessor to use physical assets like tractor and trailer.
  • Lessee– The person leasing equipment.
  • Lessor– The person who leases the equipment to the lessee.
  • Line-haul– Per mile rate received for transporting items.
  • Lowboy– Opened flatbed trailer with low deck height.
  • Logbook– Book used for recording their trucking activities.
  • Lumpers– Casual laborers who load and unload trailers for a fee.


  • Mile Marker– The name for posts marking miles on interstate highways.
  • Mini– Load weighing less than 100 pounds.
  • Motor Carrier– Private or hired vehicle for a transportation company that carries people and/or cargo.


  • No-Touch– Situation where the driver doesn’t have to load or unload the cargo.


  • Odometer– Instrument used to measure the distance of a vehicle traveled.
  • Onboard Computer– The computer in a vehicle is used to collect and store information like speed, location, fuel consumption, and more.
  • Overage– A situation where the load delivered is more than ordered.
  • Overdrive– Top gear in a truck which allows the truck to operate at fewer RPMs to conserve fuel.
  • Owner Operator– A trucker that owns their trucks and operates under their authority.


  • P&D– Short term for pickup and delivery
  • Partial– Truck used to combine multiple. shipments from customers to use the entire truck.
  • Payload– Cargo that a vehicle is transporting.
  • Piggyback– A flatbed trailer used to carry its forklift on the back to load and unload cargo.
  • Placard– Diamond-shaped signs displayed in multiple places on vehicles hauling any hazmat like explosives and gasoline.
  • Point of Origin– Location of the load where it is picked up.
  • Private Carrier– A carrier that only transports its own company’s load.
  • Pup Trailer– Numerous small flatbeds that are attached together.
  • Pull the Pin– Pulling the handle releases the grip on the trailer’s kingpin.
  • Peddle Run– Delivery with many stops.
  • Pigtail– Electrical line supplying electric power from the tractor to the trailer.


  • Rail– The use of freight trains to move goods.
  • Reefer– A trailer with a refrigerator that is used to transport goods.
  • Removable Gooseneck– A specialized type of trailer used for transporting non-stackable cargo.
  • Rig– Combination like tractors-semi trailer, truck-full trailer, or other combination.
  • Rubbernecker– A slang used for drivers focusing more on the surroundings rather than driving.
  • Runaway Truck Ramp– An emergency area close to a steep hill that a truck can steer into after losing braking power to come to a stop.


  • Skid– Term used for a pallet that holds cargo for being loaded onto a trailer.
  • Shipping Order– Document issued to a carrier that confirms load scheduling and booking.
  • Speedometer– A device on a dashboard that indicates the speed of the vehicle.
  • Spread Axle– Trailer containing multiple axles which spread out from each other.
  • Stacks– The exhaust pipe that sticks out from the top or behind a truck cab.
  • Surety Bond– Written agreement to guarantee compliance or payment of debt if a borrower defaults.
  • Straight Truck– A truck used to carry cargo mounted to the chassis instead of a trailer.


  • Tandem Axle– Two individual axles grouped in pairs.
  • Third-party Logistics– Company serving as a mediator between companies needing shipping service and motor carriers.
  • Toll– Fee paid to use a particular section of highway.
  • Trans-Load– Act of moving freight from one trailer to another.
  • Trolley Brake– A brake lever inside the truck’s cab that increases pressure on the trailer brakes when extra force is required for slowing down or coming to a stop.
  • Trip Leasing– A company leasing its vehicle to another provider for a single trip.


  • Unladen Weight– Empty weight of the vehicle.
  • Unified Carrier Registration– A system established in 2005 to streamline the process of commercial carrier registration for interstate transportation.


  • Vehicle Identification Number– Number assigned by the vehicle manufacturer, which appears on any registration.


  • Warehousing– The process of storing goods in the warehouse.
  • Waybill– A document issued by the carrier to list important details regarding a shipment.
  • Weigh Station– Official scale station for weighing commercial vehicles.


  • Yard Jockey– A driver’s duty for shuttling trailers between loading docks at a distribution center.
  • Yard Tractor– The truck used for shuttling trailers between the station and docks.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a jimmy in trucker terms?

Jimmy means a GMC tractor in trucker terms.

What does 42 mean in trucking?

42 in trucking means either “Yes” or “OK.”

How do truckers say thank you?

Trucker says thank you by flashing their right and left indicators alternatively.

What is the international truck slogan?

Delivering Beyond the Expected’ is the slogan of International Trucks.




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