Trucking Terms

Agent: Person authorized to transact business for and in the name of another.

ATA: American Trucking Associations, Inc. — serves the united interests of the trucking industry through a national federation of 50 independent state trucking associations plus the District of Columbia (each representing all classes and types of trucking operation), 12 independent conferences (each representing a special class or type truck operation) and the national headquarters.

Axle Weight: Amount of weight transmitted to the highway by one axle.

Back-haul (a) to haul a shipment back over a part of a route traveled; (b) traffic moving in direction of light flow when a carrier’s traffic on a route is heavier in one direction than the other.

Backhauler:  A trucker who has completed a delivery to a location and is open to taking a load back to where he is returning. This is MUCH better for him than returning without a load! And much better for you since backhaulers are more willing to charge a lower price than to go home without a paying load.

BL or B/L: Bill of Lading.

Bill of Lading: Written transportation contract between shipper and carrier (or their agents). It identifies the freight, who is to receive it, and the place of delivery. In addition, it gives terms of the agreement. (also see Clean Bill of Lading)

Bobtail: Truck operating without a trailer.

Break bulk: To separate a composite load into individual shipments and route to different destinations.

Bridge law: Federal regulations specifying maximum weight based on the distance in feet between axles.

Brokerage license: Authority granted by Interstate Commerce Commission to persons engaged in the business of arranging for motor vehicle transportation of persons or property in interstate commerce.

Carrier: An individual, partnership, or corporation engaged in the business of transporting goods or persons.

Carrier’s Lien: Carrier’s claim on property it has transported as security for charges.

Classification (freight): A publication containing a list of articles and the classes to which they are assigned for the purpose of applying class rates, together with governing rules and regulations.

Clean Bill of Lading: A bill of lading signed by the carrier for receipt of merchandise in good condition (no damage, loss, etc., apparent) and which does not bear such notion as “shipper’s load and count.”

Common Carrier: A company holding itself out to the general public to provide motor vehicle transportation for compensation over regular or irregular routes, or both.

Consignee: The person or firm to whom articles are shipped.

Consignment: A shipment.

Consignor: The person or firm by whom articles are shipped.

Containerization: Shipping system based upon large cargo-carrying containers that easily can be interchanged between trucks, trains, and ships without rehandling the contents.

Deadhead: Traveling without a load.

Demurrage: (also known as Detention) Detention of a vehicle beyond the time allowed for loading, unloading, etc. Also the payment mode for such a delay.

DOT: Department of Transportation.

Fifth Wheel: A device used to connect a semi-trailer and tractor.

Gross Combination Weight (GCW) How much the entire rig weighs including tractor, trailer and load.

Gross Ton: 2,240 pounds. More commonly called a long ton.

Gross Weight: (a) The weight of an article together with the weight of its container and the material used in packing; (b) as applied to a truck, the weight of a truck together with the weight of its entire contents.

Heavy Specialized Carrier: A trucking company franchised to transport articles which because of size, shape, weight, or other inherent characteristics require special equipment for loading, unloading, or transporting.

High-cube: A body with above average cubic content. Usually constructed with low floors and thin walls.

Hot load: Emergency shipment of cargo needed in a hurry.

Independent Contractor: The person who owns and operates a truck, leasing himself and/or his rig for hauling products interstate. Same as owner-operator.

Intermodal Transportation: Transportation movement involving more than one mode, e.g. rail-motor, motor-air, or rail-water.

Knocked Down: A term denoting that an article is partially or entirely taken apart (net set up).

Less-than-truckload (LTL): A quantity of freight less than the required for the application of a truckload rate. Usually less than 10,000 pounds.

Logistics: Process of systematizing information to facilitate the efficient and cost-effective flows of goods and services to produce customer satisfaction. The Council of Logistics Management defines logistics management as: “The process of planning, implementing, and controlling the efficient, cost-effective flow and storage of raw materials, in-process inventory, finished goods, and related information from point-of-origin to point-of-consumption for the purpose of conforming to customer requirements.”

Manifest: A document describing a shipment or the contents of a vehicle or ship.

Payload: Total weight of the commodity being carried on a truck at a given time including packaging, banding, etc.

Piggyback: Transportation of a highway trailer on a rail flatcar. There are five basic piggyback plans. Plan I is transportation on a trucking company owned trailer on a rail flatcar, for which the trucking company pays a negotiated rate. In Plan II, the railroad furnishes both trailer and flatcar. In Plan III, a shipper or freight forwarder owns the trailer. Plan IV is like Plan III, but the shipper or forwarder also owns the flatcar. Under Plan V, the company and railroad cooperate to offer the joint rate. A trucking company trailer is used.

Proof of Delivery: Carrier establishes proof of delivery from delivery receipt copy of freight bill signed by consignee at time of delivery. This is legal proof of delivery.

Reefer: A refrigerated trailer used for carrying refrigerated products.

Skid: A wooden platform on which heavy articles or packaged goods are placed to permit handling equipment.

Straight Truck: A truck with the body and engine mounted on the same chassis, as contrasted to a combination unit such as a tractor-semi-trailer.

TL/LTL: Full Truckload / Less-Than-Truckload

Toll: A charge made for the use of a facility, such as a bridge or turnpike.

Ton-mile: A unit of measure of transportation. The movement of one ton of freight one mile.

Truckload: (a) quantity of freight that will fill a truck; (b) quantity of freight weighing the maximum legal amount for a particular type of truck; (c) when used in connection with freight rates, the quantity of freight necessary to qualify a shipment for a truckload rate.