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Trucking Glossary

  • APU

    Auxiliary Power Unit

    On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

    Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

  • Baffle

    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.
  • BMI

    Body mass index (BMI)

    BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

    • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
    • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

    It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

  • Bobtail

    "Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

  • Bulkhead

    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.

  • Cardiovascular Disease

    Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels.

  • CAT Scale

    A network of over 1,500 certified truck scales across the U.S. and Canada found primarily at truck stops. CAT scales are by far the most trustworthy scales out there.

    In fact, CAT Scale offers an unconditional Guarantee:

    “If you get an overweight fine from the state after our scale showed your legal, we will immediately check our scale. If our scale is wrong, we will reimburse you for the fine. If our scale is correct, a representative of CAT Scale Company will appear in court with the driver as a witness”

  • CB Handle

    This is the nickname people use on the CB

  • CDL

    Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

    A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

    • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
    • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
    • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
    • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

    The Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) is a nationwide computer system that enables state driver licensing agencies (SDLAs) to ensure that each commercial driver has only one driver’s license and one complete driver record.

    A drivers file will include their driving record as well as their medical certification status.

  • CLP

    Commercial Learner's Permit

    Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

  • CMV

    Commercial Motor Vehicle

    A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

    • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
    • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
    • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
    • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
    • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
  • Combination Vehicle

    A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

  • Commercial Motor Vehicle

    A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or property with either:

    • A gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
    • A gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more which includes a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds
  • Company Sponsored Training

    A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

    The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

    If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

    Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

  • Consignee

    The customer the freight is being delivered to. Also referred to as "the receiver". The shipper is the customer that is shipping the goods, the consignee is the customer receiving the goods.

  • Covered Wagon

    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.

  • CPAP

    Constant Positive Airway Pressure

    CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

  • CPM

    Cents Per Mile

    Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

  • CSA

    Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

    The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

  • DAC

    Drive-A-Check Report

    A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

    It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

    Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

  • Day Cab

    A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

  • Deadhead

    To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.

  • Dedicated Route

    A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

  • Delo

    Delo products are designed for on- and off-road applications ranging from bus and truck transportation to construction, mining, agriculture, and power generation.

    Across industries, Delo's premium lubricants deliver world class protection, performance, and maximum operational reliability in a wide range of operating conditions

  • Dispatcher

    Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

    The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
  • DMV

    Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

    The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

  • DOT

    Department Of Transportation

    A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

    State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

  • Double Clutch

    To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

    When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

    This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

  • Doubles

    Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

  • Drop And Hook

    Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

    In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

  • Dry Van

    A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
  • DUI

    Driving Under the Influence

  • DWI

    Driving While Intoxicated

  • EOBR

    Electronic Onboard Recorder

    Electronic Logbook

    A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

  • EPU

    Electric Auxiliary Power Units

    Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

  • Floating Gears

    An expression used to describe someone who is shifting gears without using the clutch at all. Drivers are taught to "Double Clutch" or press and release the clutch twice for each gear shift. If you're floating gears it means you're simply shifting without using the clutch at all.


    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

    The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

    What Does The FMCSA Do?

    • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
    • Data and Analysis
    • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
    • Research and Technology
    • Safety Assistance
    • Support and Information Sharing

    Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating.

    The manufacturer's specification for the maximum weight that can be combined into one motor vehicle. (i.e. the truck and trailer).

  • GCWR

    Gross Combined Weight Rating

    The GCWR refers to the total weight of a vehicle, including all trailers.

  • GVWR

    Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

    GVWR is the maximum operating weight of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer, minus any trailers.


    Hazardous Materials

    Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

  • HOS

    Hours Of Service

    HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
  • Hypertension

    Abnormally high blood pressure.

  • Intermodal

    Transporting freight using two or more transportation modes. An example would be freight that is moved by truck from the shipper's dock to the rail yard, then placed on a train to the next rail yard, and finally returned to a truck for delivery to the receiving customer.

    In trucking when you hear someone refer to an intermodal job they're normally talking about hauling shipping containers to and from the shipyards and railyards.

  • Interstate Commerce

    Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

  • Intrastate Commerce

    The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

  • Lift Axle

    An air-powered axle that may be raised or lowered to the ground to provide greater load-carrying capacity or to comply with axle weight requirements

  • Linehaul

    Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

    LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
  • Logbook

    A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

  • LTL

    Less Than Truckload

    Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

    LTL carriers include:

    • FedEx Freight
    • Con-way
    • YRC Freight
    • UPS
    • Old Dominion
    • Estes
    • Yellow-Roadway
    • ABF Freight
    • R+L Carrier
  • Manifest

    Bill of Lading

    An accurate record of everything being shipped on a truck, often times used as a checklist during unloading.

  • MVR

    Motor Vehicle Record

    An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.


    Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

    Who They Are

    OOIDA is an international trade association representing the interests of independent owner-operators and professional drivers on all issues that affect truckers. The over 150,000 members of OOIDA are men and women in all 50 states and Canada who collectively own and/or operate more than 240,000 individual heavy-duty trucks and small truck fleets.

    Their Mission

    The mission of OOIDA is to serve owner-operators, small fleets and professional truckers; to work for a business climate where truckers are treated equally and fairly; to promote highway safety and responsibility among all highway users; and to promote a better business climate and efficiency for all truck operators.

  • OTR

    Over The Road

    OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

  • Out-of-Service

    When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

  • OWI

    Operating While Intoxicated

  • Owner Operator

    An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

  • P&D

    Pickup & Delivery

    Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

    LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

  • Per Diem

    Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

    Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

    Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

    We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

  • Pre-hire

    What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

    Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

    We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

    A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

    The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

    During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

  • Pre-trip Inspection

    A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

    Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

  • PSD

    Prime Student Driver

    Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

    The following is from Prime's website:

    Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

    Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

    • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
    • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
    • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

    On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

    • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
    • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
    • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
  • Qualcomm

    Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.
  • Reefer

    A refrigerated trailer.

  • Regional

    Regional Route

    Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

  • SAP

    Substance Abuse Professional

    The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

  • Shipper

    The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

  • Sleep Apnea

    A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

    In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

    It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

  • Sleeper Berth

    The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

  • Stepdeck

    A stepdeck , also referred to as "dropdeck", is a type of flatbed trailer that has one built in step to the deck to provide the capabilities of loading higher dimensional freight on the lower deck.

  • Super Singles

    A single, wide wheel substituted for a tandem (two wheel) assembly. The main benefit of a super single is a reduction in weight and lower rolling resistance which provide better fuel economy. The disadvantage is the lack of tire redundancy (or a 'backup tire' in case of a blowout) from which tandem wheels benefit. A tire blowout is more dangerous with a super single and can not be driven on.

  • swifttrans

    Swift Transportation began operations in 1966 transporting imported steel through the ports of Los Angeles to Arizona and Arizona cotton for export back through to Southern California.

    Jerry Moyes, founder, began with the same entrepreneurial, can-do spirit that is one of Swift’s core values today.

    Today, Swift generates over $4 billion in revenue and operates nearly 18,000 trucks.

  • Tandems

    Tandem Axles

    A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

  • Terminal

    A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

  • TMC-Sample

    In 1972, Harrold Annett purchased the dormant trucking company, The Mickow Corporation. On March 6, driver Wally Harrah delivered TMC's first load from Chicago to Des Moines. With six power units and an office staff of two, Harrold and his team of professionals built TMC into the largest privately-held flatbed carrier in the nation.

    In 2013, Harrold Annett established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and TMC became an employee-owned company.

  • TNT


    Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

    The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

    The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

  • TWIC

    Transportation Worker Identification Credential

    Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

    Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

  • Wil-Trans

    Darrel Wilson bought his first tractor in 1980 at age 20, but, being too young to meet OTR age requirements, he leased the truck out and hired a driver.

    Through growth and acquisition, Wil-Trans now employs over 200 drivers, and has a long-standing partnership with Prime, Inc. to haul their refrigerated freight. The family of businesses also includes Jim Palmer Trucking and O & S Trucking.

  • WIOA

    WIOA - Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (aka WIA)

    Formerly known as the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the WIOA was established in 1998 to prepare youth, adults and dislocated workers for entry and reentry into the workforce. WIOA training funds are designed to serve laid-off individuals, older youth and adults who are in need of training to enter or reenter the labor market. A lot of truck drivers get funding for their CDL training through WIA.

    For more information see our WIOA information page.

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