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Glossary Of Trucking Terms

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On this page you will find various terms used in trucking.  They are not all in alphabetical order.  If you find a term that you are unfamiliar with, please email us and let us know what the term is, so we can add it to this glossary.

These are the terms we use.  Most all drivers will agree with the definitions, but this is not exact.  Some terms mean different things to different types of drivers.  We are an over-the-road, long-haul, husband/wife team.  We drive 48 states (means we can legally drive anywhere in the 48 states).

Since not all of these terms are in alphabetical order (some are grouped together), the best way to find one term is to press CTRL+F, which will pop open a small window, simply type in the word you're looking for and away you go.


4-Wheeler

This is what we call car drivers.  Whether it's a car, van, or pickup...it doesn't matter. A non-professional vehicle driver.

10-4, Copy, I hear you, I know you're right, I hear you I did, Forty-two, Four, Uh-huh

Various ways to acknowledge what someone said on the CB radio, usually in agreement.

Agent

Like a dispatcher, but can't force you to take a load.  The good ones realize this and try to act nice...or they beg you to take the load.

Bear, Smokey, Full-grown, Full grown bear

A state police car.

Bear-in-the-air

Police in a plane or helicopter.

Big hole, The big hole

The top (highest) gear in a truck's transmission.

Big Truck, Big Rig, Rig, 18-wheeler, Tractor/trailer, Semi

These are terms for a tractor and semi-trailer.  This is the truck you see on the road with only one trailer.  The trailer is carried, not pulled.  This means that the nose of the trailer physically rests on the tractor (truck) on what is called the 5th-wheel.

Bill of lading, Bills, Proof of delivery, POD

Paperwork given to the driver by the shipper that shows what the product is, where it came from, where it's going, who the trucking company (carrier) is, what the product weighs, a signature authorizing the movement of the freight.

Blow-the-brakes

To set the parking brakes.

Bobtail, Bobtailing

It means to drive the truck only, without the trailer.

The first two can also be used to describe any commercial vehicle that is large in size.

BOO-BOO

See handle.

Book miles

The miles the load pays.  From the Household Movers Guide.  Not real miles.

Brake fade, Smoking brakes, Lost brakes, Brake fire

As you apply brakes, they generate heat.  If they start getting too hot, they start to fade, meaning that you need to apply more pressure to get the same results.  Brakes will get hotter faster by applying and releasing, than by applying and holding a steady pressure.

At a certain point, when the brake shoe and drum get hot enough, the brakes will start to fade, then as they fade and you apply more pressure to get the same braking power, they will start to smoke.  If this continues to worsen, you will get to the point where the brakes have faded so badly, that you can not apply enough pressure to get them to do anything... this is when you lose your brakes.

At speed, brakes can not normally catch fire.  A brake fire normally occurs when the vehicle is stopped with badly smoking brakes...suddenly the grease and oil around the shoe, drum, and wheel will catch fire...and about 20 seconds later the tire will catch on fire.  At that point the trailer or truck has a very good chance of burning to the ground...as well as catching the asphalt on fire too.  A single fire extinguisher will almost never put out a brake fire...you use it, the flames go out, 10 seconds later, the flames are back, and so on.

Bucket-mouth, Ratchet-jaw

Someone who ties up the channel on the CB, who doesn't let others talk.

Buffalo, Lizard with a kickstand, Bend-over Billy, Moo-moo Buckaroo

A male (sometimes no charge) prostitute.  Specifically one that works around truckstops or rest areas.

Bunk-Buddy

A female that rides along with a male truck driver...for sex, company, housekeeping, paperwork, etc...in return for food, shelter, adventure.  When the driver gets bored he drops her at a truckstop and she finds another driver to ride with.  Not a girlfriend or a wife...this is strictly.. ahem...business.

Business Channel

Channel 19 on the CB.  Note: when on I-5 (CA, OR, WA) the business channel is 17.

CB, The two-way, Radio

A Citizen's Band radio typically with 40 channels.  The legal power maximum is 4 watts.

City-kitty

A local police car.

Come-again, What'd you say, Say-what, You're breaking up

What is typically said when you can't understand what someone said on the CB radio.

Consignee, Delivery, Receiver

Where you take the load to.

County-mountie

A county sheriff.

Deadhead, Deadheading, D/H

To drive the rig (tractor and trailer) from point A to point B without a load...typically without getting paid to do so.

Dispatcher

A person who tells a (company) truck driver where to go, where to deliver, how to get there, when the driver can go home, when the driver can be sick, and when the driver can wipe his ass :-)

Dispatchers are universally disliked by most (if not all) truck drivers.  Most dispatchers have never been in a truck and have no empathy for drivers.

Drive tire, Drives, The Drives

This refers to the tires on the second and/or third axle on the tractor.  They can be new or recap (recapped) tires.

Driver pay

What the driver is paid to drive the truck.  Some drivers get paid by the hour (not many), most get paid by the mile, we get paid a percentage of the truck gross.

Drop and hook, Trailer pool, Preloaded

Normally you load your trailer at a shipper, and unload your trailer at the consignee.  But if the shipper has a trailer pool (extra empty trailers in their yard), they can have me drop my empty trailer in their yard and hook up to the preloaded (loaded before I got there) trailer and go.  It's good for me (no waiting), and it's good for the shipper (he can load a trailer whenever he wants).  The downside is the shipper needs to have room for extra trailers plus the need for a yard goat to move them around.

Doubles, Set of doubles

A tractor with two trailers. Typically a tractor (two axle) with one drive axle with two 27 foot trailers.  Each trailer usually only has one axle as well.

Duals, The Duals

This refers to the fact that there are two tires on each corner of an axle on the drives or the trailers.

Empty weight

What the tractor, trailer, fuel, and all our stuff weighs without a load on.  Typically around 34,000 lbs.

Grabrail, Grab handle

This refers to various hand-holds on the outside or inside of the truck.

Gross, Gross pay, The gross

The gross (total) pay for the load, before anyone gets their cut.

Gross vehicle weight (GVW)

The total amount tractor (including fuel and all other crap), semi-trailer (trailer), and load can weigh.  Typically, the GVW is 80,000 lbs.

Handle, CB-handle

A name that we give ourselves, a nickname, an alias, primarily used while talking on the CB.  Amy is "BOO-BOO", and Peter is "MOONDOG".

Happy Camper, The Griswalds

This refers to Recreational Vehicles (RVs) of any kind.  Boats, Campers, Tent trailers, Motorhomes, etc...

Hazardous materials

Any load that requires placards is considered hazardous.  Paint, explosives, radioactive, etc...See Placard.

Highway doubles

Typically a three axle (2 drive axles) tractor with two 45 foot (or 48 foot) trailers.  These trailers will have two axles.

Jake brake, Engine brake

This is a compression brake.  I'm not a mechanic, but from what I understand, it changes the valve timing to "retard" the engine.  It feels like when you down-shift in a car, only stronger.  It sounds cool too :-)

Jump seat

The passenger seat.

Log book, Funny book, Comic book, Liar's book, Log

This is a diary that each driver must keep by law.  It covers 24 hrs. per day, 7 days per week, in 15 minute increments.  There are four lines:

From the day you're hired, until you quit, you must keep a logbook.  It is a federal document and has many pages of rules and regulations that a driver must follow.

Lot Lizard, Lizard, Hooker, Recreational Reptile, Commercial Company

A prostitute.  Specifically one that works around truckstops or rest areas.

Lumping, Lumpers

Lumping is loading or unloading a trailer by hand.  A lumper is someone the driver pays to load or unload a trailer.

MOONDOG

See handle.

Old hand

An "old hand" is a truck driver that has been around the block many times.  He's wise, generally soft-spoken, doesn't offer an opinion unless asked for it (unless he thinks you're about to kill yourself, or someone else), and no one argues with him because he's right...and everybody knows it.  Sort of a wise elder of trucking.

Park-N-View, PNV

PNV is a service that a large number of truckstops offer.  There is a junction box (or ballard) in the ground next to the trucks when they're parked.  The provide hookups for cable TV and a phone line.  You can then make local and 800 number calls for free from the cab of your truck.  They also provide internet access (ISP).  You can pay by the day or by the month.  The ISP service is kind of slow and flaky...but beggars can't be choosers!

Placard

Placards are warning signs placed on all four sides of the trailer denoting that the trailer is carrying hazardous materials.  Examples are flammable, explosives, dangerous, etc...

Rambo

Someone getting mouthy on the CB.  Usually hides behind the mike...doesn't have the balls to say where he is.

Ranger Transportation

A company that owner/operators and small fleets lease their equipment to.  They provide loads through Agents for us to haul.  They handle all the legal requirements... logs, drug testing, safety, driver qualifications, awards, insurance...and so on.

Real miles

From the odometer, the real miles we drove from shipper to consignee.  Not book miles.

Reefer, Reefer trailer

A Reefer is a refrigerated van type of trailer.  It can both cool and heat a trailer.

Road-money

What we spend while on the road...food, smokes, books, dog food etc...

Rookie

A new truck driver.  He is considered to be a rookie until he stops acting like one.  Sometimes this only takes a year or two...some drivers never lose this tag.

Scalemaster, Weighmaster, Chicken coop, Scale, Weigh station

A scale is place where the law makes sure we're not over gross weight or over axle weight.  We call it "checking our ground pressure".  We can also have our truck inspected, our logbooks checked, and generally be harassed.

A Scalemaster is a law enforcement official who runs the scale.

Seat-cover

Any female in a passenger seat.

Shipper, Pickup

Where you pick up a load.

Sleeper, Bunk

The area behind the driver's seat and the jump seat.  Where the bed (bunk), storage, and other stuff is.

Snow chicken

A driver that hates driving in snow and ice.  Usually will either park the truck or drive many miles out of route to avoid the snow.

Solo

A single driver in a truck.  He must stop and rest for eight hours after each ten hour driving shift.

Spot mirror

Another type of mirror trucks use.  There is always at least one on each side below the west coast mirror.  These are round in shape, from 4-8 inches in diameter.  They are usually convex in shape, and the convexity can vary, depending on where it's mounted.

Spotter

The person standing outside the truck to give the driver another set of eyes when the driver is making tight maneuvers or is backing up.

Steer tire, Steers, The Steers

This refers to the first or front set of tires on a tractor.  They must be new tires only, recaps are not allowed.

Team

Two drivers in one truck.  One drives while the other sleeps.

Throttle, Hammer, The hammer

What 4-wheelers call the "gas pedal".  Trucks don't use gas.  Phrases like "Put the hammer down.", "Put the pedal to the metal.", "Hammer it!", "Put the hammer down.", "Both feet on the floor.", or "Gouge on it!". Means to give the engine full throttle.

Tire-thumper

Anything used to thump the tires.  A hammer, a club, a short stick, the sawn-off handle of a baseball bat.

Tire-thumping

You can't tell if the drives or trailers are flat by looking at them.  Since they're duals, one could have air and the other be flat.  By hitting the tires with a thumper, you can feel/hear if one is low or flat.  Most drivers will notice if a tire is 15lbs low or so.

We do an air-pressure check (with a tire gauge) weekly, but you thump the tires whenever you stop.

Townie

A "normal" person with a regular job is a townie.  Someone who goes home every night.

Townie-job

A truck driver that gets a driving job that lets him go home every day.  When he's off, he can go home.

Tractor

This is the truck only, without a trailer attached.  It may be used to describe something on the truck, but not on the trailer.

Trailer tire, Trailers

This refers to the tires on the trailer.  They can be new or recap tires.

Triples, Trips, Set of trips

Typically a two axle (one drive axle) tractor with three 27 foot trailers.  Each trailer usually has one axle.

Trolley-valve, Johnson-stick, Johnson-valve, Trailer brake

A valve with a handle that is mounted to the steering column (or on the dashboard) that can be used to engage the trailer brakes by themselves.

Truck Gross

What amount the truck earns, after the company gets their cut of the gross.

VBR, Violation of the basic rule, Speeding

A speeding ticket.

Water-Level

As in "make the trailer water-level".  This means to distribute the weight evenly front to back. Picture a teeter-totter...same idea.

West coast mirror

Every truck has two of these.  You might think of them as "side view mirrors".  Trucks generally have more than one mirror on each side.  A west coast mirror is rectangular in size, about 14 inches tall, and about 7 inches wide.

Wheelbase

A measurement in inches from the center of the front axle to the center between the two rear axles.

Willie-weaver

A person who is driving while drunk, or while falling asleep.

Yard, The yard

The yard is where my truck is parked when I'm at home.  A yard is simply a parking lot for trucks at a business, but not a truckstop.

Yard Goat

A two axle truck with a very short wheelbase without a sleeper, designed solely to move trucks around in a yard, easy to get into and out of, with special equipment to make his job easier.

 


Send email about Life On The Road to Amy and Peter at life_on_the_road@putergeek.com

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Last Revised: 10/20/2000
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