A Look Inside Trucking: What Is The Qualcomm?

by Rhonda

Once you enter trucking, there is a lot that you get to experience. So many "interesting" things come your way. Many things you don't give much thought to until it is brought to your attention through company training, newsletters put out by employers, the trucking magazines, and over the Qualcomm - the truck's messaging computer.

What is Qualcomm?

Qualcomm is a messaging system with GPS built in and is tied into the truck's computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and exchange messages with the driver - similar to email. I have been told that it shows you within a few short blocks of where you are at - about 3 blocks or so. It may be much closer now. You access the Qualcomm from inside the truck, using what looks like a computer keyboard and screen. Each company can set it up to their own needs. Most are set to monitor:

  • Location
  • Idle time
  • Speed
  • Miles per gallon
  • Engine over speed
  • Cruise control
  • ...and much more

Drivers sign in or out, and enter load info for dispatch and general office staff. There are different ways a company can set it up for all of the functions they would like. The functions, or Macros, are numbered and the driver may access them at any time. To enter load info you may enter #25 for example and fill in the needed blanks on the form. Empty may be #28. Breakdown may be #40. Arrive at location may be #10, Leaving location may be #11, Accident may be #30, Request for directions may be #12. This should give you an idea what the Qualcomm does. It costs the trucking companies money to own this system and send messages, so shortcuts are needed. "You" becomes "U", "tonight" becomes "2nite", "empty" becomes "MT", "trailer is trl', "for" becomes "4", and the list goes on.

Here are some examples from my experiences - yes, I actually wrote them down - date, time, and what number they are on the computer--1 thru 99 for a lot of them. I'm putting it in normal reading for us.

ME: I'm heading to Omaha as requested, no assignment at this time.

DISPATCH: Keep wheels turning, we are working on it. Thanks.

ME: This truck runs for 3 min with the key off. I don't want this idle time credited to me & cost me my bonus while waiting for shop appointment.


DISPATCH:Rhonda, your shirts are in for you to pick up, if you get up this way

SHOP: Please send in your mileage. Thank you.


ME: Thank You!!!!!!

ME: I-39 at mm117, Rockford IL. State police doing random inspections. I'm getting one now.

ME: Shipper having equipment problems. Load not ready. Others also waiting. Waiting on 2 pallets of product to be made.

ME: Finally rolling!!!!!


DISPATCH: Stop by office to get permit books updated, get IFTA stickers and more

ME: Roads getting slick. Will try to deliver today if possible.

ME: Arrived at receiver.

ME: (1hr later) Not in dock. Waiting for a dock to be open & there is heavy fog here. Sure hope it lets up when I leave

DISPATCH: Keep us posted

ME: In the dock! Short on help. Will be awhile. Fog has lifted. Going for a walk.

Note: I spent 4 3/4hrs at this place. This is time that the driver does not get paid for - which is a subject for another time.

Messages are also sent out by companies requesting help in locating stolen trucks/trailers, but if you get one of these and happen to find the lost or stolen equipment, don't go near rig when you see it. Men may be armed and dangerous. This applies not only to your own company's equipment, but you may receive messages for helping out other companies too. The theft of rigs, trailers, and products is a billion dollar business. I have received messages from family that dispatch will send to you. Weather alerts are sent across and sometimes requiring you to shut it down as soon as you can do so safely, or if you are at a terminal (for those who drive for the bigger carriers) in weather alert area, you may not be allowed to leave until conditions improve.

I know some drivers may not care to have all of this knowledge/info so handy and sitting in your truck, but I am one who happens to like it. Before it came along and way before I entered trucking, drivers communicated by phone in the truck stops and phone booths (which are fast becoming extinct) I prefer this new way as there is less wasted time and you can keep on rolling.


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.


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.


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.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
by Brett Aquila

Related Articles:

When Will I Know If Trucking Was The Right Career Choice?

by Brett Aquila

Becoming a truck driver is a big career choice. When will you know if you belong in trucking, or if you should walk away? Read on - we'll let you know

Why Do People Decide To Get Into Truck Driving?

by Driver Solutions

Trucking attracts people from all walks of life and has a lot to offer if you're circumstances, personality, and goals make you right for the job.

Working My Way Back Into The Trucking Industry

by Rhonda

I got out of the trucking industry back in 2009. Almost two years later I'm ready to get back in but I'm facing a few hurdles along the way.

Factors Affecting Job Placement In The Trucking Industry

by Tanya Bons

Finding a truck driving job after graduating from CDL training is not guaranteed. Here we cover factors affecting your chances of finding work in trucking

Keep That License Clean: Your Career Depends On It

by Rhonda

For a truck driver that CDL is everything. Here is some great advice on protecting that license.

Understanding Rights In The Trucking Industry

by Dave Ashelman

What rights do truck drivers have? Here’s a brief overview of some of the common issues drivers face with their bosses, and the remedies they can seek.

The Unexpected Call

by TruckersWife09

Home time is precious to an over the road driver and their family, and it's painful when it gets cut short by an unexpected call from the company.

Stereotypes And Trucking: A Match Made In The Cab

by Dave Ashelman

Stereotypes of truckers are hurting your trucking career, even if you don't fit the mold. It's time to step up, take pride, and expect more of ourselves.

Rites Of Passage On The Highway

by Dave Ashelman

Many folks come into truck driving believing they should be treated like gold without having to prove themselves first. That's simply not how it works.

You Won't Get Anywhere In Trucking If You Can't Get Along With Your Support Personnel

by Brett Aquila

At TruckingTruth we're always telling you that you control your own destiny in trucking. Well, a big part of that is getting the right people on your side.

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More