Trucking Terms

The trucking industry uses its own specific terms to communicate within the industry and to the freight industry at large. There are terms for all of the tools, gear, drivers and other workers who are associated with trucking. Just like any other industry, the trucking industry has borrowed terms from other places, like calling the legs that support the front of a semi-trailer the “landing gear,” which is a common term in the airplane industry.


A back-haul is moving freight from the destination point back to point of origin. If a trucker takes a load from point A to point B, the back haul is a load going from point B back to point A.

Bill of Lading
A bill of lading is the shipping document that transfers the title, or ownership, of the freight from one party to another.

A bobtail is a tractor that operates without a trailer. This also refers to a straight truck or “a two axle truck with the van permanently attached to the chassis,” according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Chassis and Chassis Weight
The chassis of a truck is long, thin steel frame on wheels, according to the IRS. This attaches to the truck in order to haul containers. The chassis weight is the weight of the truck without a load on it or occupants in it. The chassis weight is also known as the tare weight.

A yardgoat is a tractor, according to the IRS, with a short turning radius. It is used to pull trailers or containers for hauling in the freight yard. It doesn’t pull them on roads.

Cargo Handler

A cargo handler is a person who loads freight into trailers. Other terms for a cargo handler are: a lumper, swamper, stevedore or longshoreman. Lumpers usually load agricultural freight like fruits and vegetables whereas a longshoreman or stevedore loads ocean freight. A swamper is truck driver’s assistant who helps load and unload whatever freight the trucker is carrying.

Common Carrier
A common carrier is a freight transportation company or sole driver acting as his own company who serves the general public for transport jobs. He may offer a regular route or take unscheduled trips on irregular routes, depending on where he is authorized to serve.

A deadhead is a truck driving without a trailer.

Radio Frquency Identification or RFID is used to locate a product in transit anywhere in the world, according to the IRS. RFID tags can be very small, as small as a grain of rice, notes the IRS.

This is a nickname, or trucking term, for a refrigerated truck.