The Language of Truckers: Learn Our Lingo Part 1

Tuesday, December 20th, 2022

Truckers have their own lingo that has developed naturally over the years. From acronyms to equipment to nicknames, there’s a lot that non-truckers can get confused by! Here are some of the most common (and interesting) words used by truckers, from letters A to H.

ABS: This acronym stands for anti-lock brake system, which is something most passenger vehicles come with too. The brakes work by employing short bursts of pressure (like manually pumping the brakes) to prevent loss of traction.

Air Ride suspension: This is most often used by commercial trucks and buses to provide a much smoother ride than typical suspension systems. It uses airbags to help cushion rough motions on the road, which helps protect delicate cargo.

Audit: This term is also known as a safety audit. Audits are done by the DOT to ensure that a carrier has proper safety measures in place. In order to pass, these measures must be active and meet Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR) standards.

Axle rating: The maximum amount of weight that can be placed on one axle (or a pair of axles) is called the axle rating. Typically, the max is 12,000 pounds for one steer axle.

Black eye: This simply refers to a truck with one headlight that is out.

Blindsiding: When a trucker angles the trailer away from themself on the passenger’s side, this is called blindsiding. Because it isn’t safe, this method is not recommended.

Bumper sticker: When another vehicle is tailgating a trucker, this is what they are called.

Bunk Cab: This refers to the area of a trucker’s cab where their bed and clothing/personal items storage are located.

CAT Scales: These are privately owned scales often found at truck stops that let truckers weigh their trucks. This is useful because all truckers must meet legal requirements for both axel and gross weights.

Chocks: These are the triangular wedges that are placed behind and in front of the wheels of a truck. These stop the vehicles from moving when parked, or when truckers are loading and unloading.

Compliance review: This is a review conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure that all commercial carriers are following current laws and regulations. Typically these reviews can include state or federal safety inspectors.

Dedicated run: This type of schedule is seen as one of the most appealing to truckers (and their families). It is a run that goes to the same place almost every time, on the same schedule.

Drivers: Here’s a fun one! Drivers are truckers only, not those operating passenger vehicles (what truckers often call four-wheelers).

Doubles (or Twin Trailers): This refers to one tractor and two trailers, a combination of vehicles.

Electronic onboard recorder: This is a device that records aspects like speed and the total time a vehicle has been driven in one period.

Endorsements: These refer to the add-ons that some truckers have on their driver’s licenses. These can include the ability to drive doubles, triples, or tankers or to transport hazardous materials.

FHWA: An acronym that refers to Federal Highway Administration, the FHWA takes care of building, managing, and maintaining highways, bridges, and tunnels.

Fingerprint a load: This is the unwanted task of unloading their own trailers, which is not ideal.

Fog line: When a trucker cannot see due to thick fog (or other weather hazards), they can follow the white line on the side of the highway called the fog line. Of course, anyone on the road can use this line to help them drive more safely.

GCW: This simply refers to the gross combination weight maximum that is allowed for a combination vehicle, which is set by the manufacturer.

Glider kit: This is a new commercial truck that is sold without necessary parts like the engine, transmission, driveline, and rear differential.

Having shutter trouble: If you hear a trucker say this, it means that they are having issues staying awake. It is important for every person to pull over somewhere safe if this happens.

Hazmat: This word refers to materials that can only be transported legally by a trucker with the appropriate hazmat endorsement on their CDL.

Horses: To truckers, this word doesn’t always refer to the animal, but to the horsepower of their truck.

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