Glossary of Trucking Terms

  • 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.

  • 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

    A police in plane or helicopter.

  • Big Hole, The Big Hole

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

  • 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:

    • Driving
    • On-duty (not driving)
    • Sleeper berth
    • Off-duty

    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.

  • Lumping, Lumpers

    Lumping is loading or unloading a trailer by hand. A lumper is someone the driver pays to load or unload a trailer.
  • 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 mic (doesn’t want 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.

  • 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.
  • Rolley-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, Willy-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.

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