Trucking Terms: ABCs of Understanding The Trucker Language

Posted 12-17-13 by Mike Curts

The Trucking Terms Your Mom Warned You About

Every industry or occupation seems to have it’s own unique “language.” What I mean is that typically, these words, terms or phrases have a specific meaning to the folks that work in that industry. Trucking is no different. Do you know what a “drop and hook” is or the meaning of “hub miles?” Don’t worry, if you don’t know your “yard jockeys” from your “lumpers,” we’ve got you covered with this special blog post series, Truck Talk: The ABCs of Trucking Language.

In this series, I’m going to break down general trucking terms as well as some “driver speak” – those words and phrases that are likely to be heard of the CB radio. Yes, the 1970’s phenomena CB radio is still widely used across the trucking industry. It’s an important communication tool for truck drivers as well as shippers. So, it’s a great idea to brush up on your trucker lingo.

Let’s get part one of the Truck Talk: The ABCs of Trucking Language started with these general trucking terms…

Average Length of Haul
The average distance in miles between the pick-up and delivery points.

An individual, partnership, or corporation engaged in the business of transporting goods or persons; a trucking company.

“Citizens band” two-way radio for which no license is required by the FCC.

Commercial Driver's License; a type of driver’s license mandated by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Act of 1986 that establish minimum national standards.

Class A
Refers to type of CDL permitted the licensed driver to operate a combination vehicle (tractor trailer) with a gross weight of 26,001 or more pounds.

Common Carrier
Freight transportation company which serves the general public. May be a regular or irregular route.

Dedicated Run
This refers to a driver pulling freight for one specific shipper week after week, with same pick up and drop off points.

The scheduling and control of intercity traffic and intracity pick-up and delivery.

Department of Transportation

Drop and Hook
This is a term used to refer to when a driver simply "drops" his trailer at a customer location and "hooks" to another trailer.

Drop Yard
This is a small area of land that trucking companies own and allows for drivers to park their trucks and trailers on it.

Dry Freight

Forced Dispatch
This is a term used to define that a driver does NOT have the ability to accept or decline load assignments.

Freight Lane
These are the common areas where trucking companies run in and around delivering freight.

Fuel Bonus
These are bonuses given by trucking companies to drivers who can exceed a pre-set MPG average.

Global Positioning System

Hazardous Materials, as classified by the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Transport of hazardous materials is strictly regulated by the US Department of Transportation.

Hours of Service
U.S. Department of Transportation safety regulations which govern the hours of service of commercial vehicle drivers engaged in interstate trucking operations.

Hub Miles
Refers to the actual amount of miles a driver runs as per the odometer.

(Driving) between 2 or more states.

(Driving) within a state.

Irregular Route Common Carrier
A phrase used to describe a carrier that will haul freight from anywhere to anywhere with no set routes.

To place the trailer at a very sharp angle to the tractor.

Layover Pay
Paid to a driver who is available for dispatch, but has no load assignment.

Layover Time
The non-working time that a road driver spends away from his home terminal before being dispatched to some other destination.

Lease Purchase
Method of purchasing a rig from a regulated carrier, whereby rent (paid to the carrier for the privilege of using the cab) is applied to the principle owed.

This is the freight that the driver is pulling in the trailer.

Loaded Miles
Distance traveled with a loaded trailer.

Process of systematizing information to facilitate the efficient and cost-effective flows of goods and services to produce customer satisfaction.

LTL (Less-than-Truckload)
A quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a truckload (TL) rate; usually less than 10,000 pounds.

LTL Carrier
Trucking company which consolidates less-than-truckload cargo for multiple destinations on one vehicle.

Person hire to load/unload the freight in trailer.

An acronym for Motor Vehicle Report. An official record for an individual driver listing traffic convictions.

No Touch
A term meaning the driver doesn’t have to assist with the unloading of the trailer or “touch” the freight upon arrival at a destination.


Pre Pass
This is an electronic system in trucks that allows for drivers to bypass scales (weigh stations).

This is a word that often refers to Satellite Communications. Qualcomm is considered the largest supplier of these systems.

Regional Run
This refers to a type of driving position when a driver is kept with in a region, such as the southeast.

The course or direction that a shipment moves.

Satellite Communication Systems
These are on board computers that help with mapping, two-way communication with dispatch and even e-mail.

A facility including building structures, and equipment for the storage transfer, handling, delivery, and reception of vehicles and materials.

TL (Truckload)
The quantity of freight required to fill a trailer; usually more than 10,000 pounds.

TL Carrier
Trucking company which dedicates trailers to a single shipper's cargo, as opposed to an LTL carrier.

Yard Jockey
Person who operates a yard tractor.

Yard Tractor (Yard Goat)
Special tractor used to move trailers around a terminal, warehouse, distribution center, etc.

Well, that wraps up the first lesson in Professor Mike’s ABC’s of Trucking Language course. Don’t worry; there won’t be a vocabulary test. But now you’re ready to have an intelligent conversation about trucking. In part two, I’ll dig into some truck specific terms such as “king pin,” “reefer,” and “bobtail” so be sure to check back.

About Mike Curts

Mike has overseen the marketing efforts at Driver Solutions for over 20 years. As a self-proclaimed information junkie, he spends a good deal of time reading and researching the latest on driver training, recruitment and retention. Mike plays a key role in making this website the premiere destination for truck driver training and truck driving job information. He also oversees the development of online CDL training at eGears

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