Dry Van Trailers

What New Truck Drivers Need To Know About Dry Van Trailers:

The most common type of trailer used in trucking. Essentially just a box on wheels with doors in the back.

Pulling box trailers, or dry vans, offer the most job opportunities, especially for new drivers.

Most dry van loads will require nothing of the driver other than to pull them.

More specialized dry van jobs, like moving vans, pup containers, or freight the driver must unload may offer better pay rates.

General Dry Van Trailers:

Ordinary dry vans are the most common type of trailer on the road, and offer the most varied job choices for new truck drivers.

New drivers will typically start in some type of dry van position, until they gain more experience in the job.

Most dry van jobs do not require the driver to unload freight. Especially regional and over the road jobs.

Some dry van loads will be drop-and-hook , depending on the company. Requires nothing of the driver but to hook up to an already-loaded trailer, and drop it off at its destination.

Pup Trailers:

Short trailers (26-29 feet) often used for local LTL or smaller pick-ups and deliveries. Often used for over-the-road (OTR) doubles and triples.

May require more driver interaction, as local and regional routes may have multiple stops requiring re-arranging the freight on occasion.

Will be used for multiple local pick-up and deliveries, or linehaul routes between consolidation hubs or distribution centers.

Moving Vans (Household Goods):

Often moving the contents of entire households. Could be either local or over the road jobs. Will usually be a very "hands-on" trucking job, and will generally pay better than average.

Many moving van positions will include the actual packing of the freight, as well as securing it. Most companies will have their own training program specific to this kind of work.

Most of the large professional moving companies belong to the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA), which sets standards for methods and conduct in the industry, as well as advocating for the moving companies themselves.

The kind of freight could vary wildly, from small boxes, to grand pianos or the like.

Changes To FMCSA Regulations Re-defining Tank Vehicles:

Recent changes in FMCSA regulations mean that drivers pulling liquid freight over 1,000 gallons, regardless of trailer type, hazardous or otherwise, will be required to have a tanker endorsement:

"Tank vehicle means any commercial motor vehicle that is designed to transport any liquid or gaseous materials within a tank or tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis." Hauling more than 1,000 gallons of liquid, regardless of trailer type, will require a driver to have a tanker endorsement.

FMCSA Definition of Tanker Vehicle


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.


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


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.

Over The Road:

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.

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
  • 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


    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


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

    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.


    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.

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