A Trucking And Hauling Glossary For The Layman

As with most businesses, there is a special language of sorts that professional truckers, delivery drivers, haulers, etc. use in order to communicate. These terms can apply to employment sectors, equipment, tools, and more. If you’re just getting started in the business, or are simply curious about what on earth those kinds of professionals are saying, the following is a brief glossary that you may find helpful.

The freight industry can include ship, rail, air, and manufacturing. Some terminology has been borrowed from other sources or industries. One perfect example of this is the shipping-borrowed term: shore power. Rather than a ship idling its engine (in order to supply power to the ship) while sitting and waiting, the ship uses electrical power from the shore. So do some trucks/trailers.

Here is another borrowed term, this one from the aviation industry: landing gear. You’re probably familiar with the landing gear of a plane; but in the trucking industry, it refers to the legs that support a semi-trailer’s front end when it is not supported by a semi-truck.


Step deck and dropped deck are interchangeable – this flatbed trailer features, at the front, a raised step and has a lowered deck.

Flatbed and skateboard are also interchangeable – this trailer has no doors or enclosures and can be loaded and unloaded from above or the sides.

Covered wagon is interchangeable with side kit –  this flatbed truck’s resemblance to the old covered wagons is unmistakable due to its tarp covering supported by curved ribs and fitted side plates.

Side loader – for on the spot unloading and loading, this trailer comes with cranes on the rear and front.

Vehicle Parts

Sleeper berth or bunk – designed for sleeping, this is part of the truck’s interior.

Retarder – one example of this is engine braking which does not use friction but does assist in slowing the truck down or braking.

Bulkhead and headache rack are interchangeable – located on the rear of the tractor or the front of the flatbed trailer, this is a wall-like structure that, during a front-end collision, would protect the driver against cargo shifting (among other things).

Lift axle and cheater axle are interchangeable – this axle is air powered and can be lowered or raised in order to supply bigger load carrying capacity.


Semi-trailer truck, semi-truck, big truck, big rig, eighteen-wheeler, and tractor-trailer are all relatively interchangeable and self-explanatory. Without these, you cannot pull a trailer.

Day cab– aptly named, there is no bunk or sleeper berth available in this truck cab (the part of the semi-truck or tractor where the driver sits).

Cab over – this tractor has no hood, is box shaped, and short. It has a front that is steep and vertical. The cab literally rides over the front steering axle and engine.

Carriers and Drivers

Dedicated route and regular route are interchangeable – these carriers or drivers transport cargo between prescribed, regular routes and are home more frequently (usually) than are long-haul or OTR drivers.

Private carrier versus owner operator (O/O) – this carrier doesn’t provide the general public with services, but rather, is owned or contracted by a shipper. An owner operator is an independent, self-employed driver.

OTR (over the road), irregular route, and long-haul are interchangeable – no prescribed routes or schedules are used for these carriers or drivers who ship their cargo at any time, to any place.


Terminal – the hub or dock where freight terminates or originates or, in the process of transportation, is handled.

Operating authority – this must be applied for by motor carriers for hire. It deals with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and interstate commerce.

Manifest – more detailed than a simple bill of loading, this document is a description of a shipment’s contents and can be used during unloading as a checklist.

Consignor – the entity or person transferring ownership or legal responsibility of the consignment or cargo to the carrier.

We at Mickey Genuine Parts want you to fully comprehend the ins and outs of what you are purchasing, be it parts, trailers, vans, tractors, etc. Our knowledgeable and experienced customer service representatives will be happy to answer your questions in terms that you can understand.

Let’s keep truckin'.

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