top of page


Freight Dictionary

 A Complete Glossary of LTL & Truckload Shipping Terms



ACCESSORIALS: When a carrier performs freight services beyond normal pick-up and delivery.

ACCOUNTS PAYABLE: Part of the billing department in charge of paying carriers, operators, or factoring companies for services rendered.

ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE: Part of the billing department in charge of collecting payment from carriers or customers for services rendered.

AIR SUSPENSION: Trailers built to reduce shock from roads traveled in order to secure product safety. Trailers of this type are generally used to haul fragile items such as light bulbs or glass.. The suspension system on this trailer supports the load on air-filled rubber bags rather than steel springs.

APPORTIONED PLATES: license plates issued to commercial vehicles and are affixed to the vehicle.

AXEL: Structural component to which wheels, brakes, and suspension are attached.



BACK OFFICE: manages all of the carrier's logistics processes. Example: IFTA, Dispatching, compliance etc.

BACKHAUL: Return trip of a vehicle from the original destination point back to the home base of the carrier or driver.

BASE JURISDICTION: Base state of the customer’s business.

BILL OF LADING/PROOF OF DELIVERY (BOL/POD): A transportation document that is the contract of carriage containing the terms and conditions between the carrier and shipper. Required for all LTL shipments: Shipper must give the BOL to the driver at pick up.

BLIND SHIPMENT: A term used when client requests that the shipper and/or consignee do not know about each other. The client who requests a blind load is a third party (middleman or broker). The shipper is the supplier and the consignee is the customer. If the consignee and shipper knew about each other they may cut out the middleman.

BOC-3 (Blanket of Coverage): A designation of a process agent to accept court papers in each state the truck hauls.

BOB TAILING: Operating a tractor unit with no trailer.

BROKER (FREIGHT): A freight broker is a transportation intermediary who coordinates activities between suppliers and transporters. Freight brokers act as a liaison between people who have items to ship and the companies or individuals who physically move the shipments.





CAB CARD: Cab card means an evidence of registration, other than a Plate, issued for an Apportioned Vehicle registered under the Plan by the Base Jurisdiction and carried in or on the identified vehicle.

CARRIER: An owner operator or trucking company that transports goods.

CASH ON DELIVERY (COD): Also known as “Freight Collect.” The process of paying (in cash) for a shipment at the time of delivery. Commercial Drivers License (CDL) : is a professional driver's license required to operate large, heavy, or placarded hazardous material vehicles in the United States in commerce

CERTIFICATE OF INSURANCE (COI): Letter provided your commercial insurance A COI is a document used to provide evidence of insurance coverage. The certificate is a snapshot that provides verification of the insurance currently in place and typically includes type of coverage, limits, policy term, policy number, and carrier name, among other information.

COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE (CMV): A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle used to transport goods or passengers for the profit of an individual or business. Examples of CMVs include pickup trucks, box trucks, semi-trucks, vans, coaches, buses, taxicabs, trailers and travel trailers.

CONESTOGA: Flat bed with soft covering over it, similar to a wagon.

CONTAINER: A truck trailer body that can be detached from the chassis for loading into a vessel or a rail car or stacked in a container depot. Containers may be ventilated, insulated, refrigerated, flat rack, vehicle rack, open top, high cube, bulk liquid, or equipped with interior devices. A container may be 20 feet, 40 feet, 45 feet, 48 feet, or 53 feet in length; 8’0″ or 8’6″ in width; and 8’6″ or 9’6″ in height.

CROSS DOCKS: Warehouse operation that involves moving goods between different trucks to consolidate loads without intermediate storage.

CSA SCORE: Each carrier has a CSA score that represents how well they've preserved road safety. The score is calculated on a 0-100 scale, with higher numbers indicating a worse level of safety. CSA scores are updated through the FMCSA's Safety Measurement System each month.





DOT COMPLIANCE: refers to meeting the standards established in each of several DOT areas of oversight. Violation of any one of them can lead to serious consequences, and commercial motor carriers are regularly monitored to ensure they remain in compliance

DEADHEAD: Miles a driver moves empty without a load.

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT): Department of Transportation for the United States. Regulates rules and regulations relating to the transportation industry.

DETENTION: Fee assessed by the carrier when a truck is held up at delivery or pickup longer than the time allotted for service

DRIVER QUALIFICATION FILE (DQL): The driver qualification file, or DQF, is an FMCSA record-keeping requirement that trucking companies must meet for every employed driver. Even if you are your trucking company's only driver, you will still need a DQF for yourself.

DISPATCHER: manages freight on behalf of a carrier. That includes using load boards and personal connections to locate freight that needs to be shipped, speaking to brokers, conducting negotiations, and eventually dispatching drivers and setting up their routes. In many cases, the position also includes some back-end work like reviewing truck drivers’ logs and tracking their hour

DRAINAGE: Movement of a container or trailer to or from the railroad intermodal. terminal to or from the customer's facility for loading or unloading.

DRIVER ASSIST: When a driver is required to assist in the loading and unloading of a container/trailer.

DRY VAN: A simple, enclosed non-climate controlled rectangular trailer that carries general cargo, including food and other products that do not require refrigeration. Usually loaded and reloaded through rear doors, requiring elevated access for forklifts to enter the trailer.

DOUBLES: A tractor and two semi trailers connected in tandem by converter dolly.

DROP DECK: A flatbed with a lowered deck, featuring a raised step at the front, where the trailer attaches to the fifth wheel.

DUNNAGE: Pieces of lumber used to protect a product from damage during transport. The lumber is nailed to the floor around the freight to prevent it from shifting.




EXCLUSIVE USE: Cargo Van or freight truck where the freight in the truck is dedicated to one person or company.

ELECTRONIC LOGGING DEVICE (ELD): As defined by FMCSA, ELD in trucking stands for Electronic Logging Device which is “intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data. An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording.

ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival

ETD: Estimated Time of Departure





FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION (FMCSA): As the lead federal government agency responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), FMCSA's mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

FLATBED: Equipment used in truckload freight to transport large items or machinery.


FORKLIFT: Gas powered, used for full truckload, larger freight. Lifts up to 4,000lbs. Forklift services at pick up or delivery need to be arranged by the customer.

FULL TRUCK LOAD (FTL): A shipment that utilizes the entire space of the trailer. These shipments take up most or all of the space and or weight the trailer can handle.





GROSS WEIGHT: The total weight of an item including packaging and palletizing.

GROSS COMBINED WEIGHT RATING (GCWR): A vehicle's GCWR is the maximum allowable combined mass of a road vehicle, the passengers and cargo in the tow vehicle, plus the mass of the trailer and cargo in the trailer. It's determined by adding the GVWR of the power unit (the truck) to the GVWR of the trailer.

GUARANTEED SHIPMENT: An LTL shipment that is “Guaranteed” for delivery by a certain time. An additional fee is paid for this service, and if the delivery time is not met, the shipping charges can be wiped away.




HAZMAT: Explosive, poisonous, or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Hazardous materials must be transported by specialty certified carriers.

HEAVY VEHICLE USE TAX (HVUT): A fee assessed annually on heavy vehicles operating on public highways at registered gross weights equal or greater than 55,000 pounds.

HOURS OF SERVICE (HOS): the hours a driver is legally allowed in a 24 hour window. A regulation enforced by the FMCSA that governs the working hours of anyone operating a commercial motor vehicle.

HOTSHOT TRUCKING: involves hauling smaller, more time-sensitive LTL loads (less than truckload) within a specific timeframe and usually to a single customer or location. Hot shot loads are usually delivered using medium-duty trucks that pull flatbed trailers.





INSPECTION (DOT INSPECTION): This inspection is meant to be a thorough check of the truck, trailer and load. The check is to ensure that everything is in correct working order, prior to the truck and driver, departing on a trip. Any damage or issues found during the pre-trip inspection which needs attention, must be addressed before departure.

INTERSTATE COMMERCE: Transporting cargo in a commercial motor vehicle across state lines.

INTRASTATE COMMERCE: Transporting cargo in a commercial motor vehicle in one state.

INTERNATIONAL REGISTRATION PLAN: An agreement between certain states which provides apportioned payments of registration fees based on the total # of miles traveled in participating states.



Layover: A delay that requires a driver to stay for an extended period of time or overnight to get loaded or unloaded.

LESS THAN A TRUCK LOAD (LTL): A form of freight shipping focused on moving freight that takes up less space than a full truckload. LTL (Less than truckload) This term typically refers to shipments of 150- 10,000 pounds, not requiring the full use of a trailer.

LETTER OF AUTHORITY: License to engage in operations, interstate and foreign commerce.

LIFTGATE: A lift on the back of some trucks that assist in getting freight on and off the truck. Often used in place of a loading dock

LINE HAUL: The inter-city portion of the trip that occurs after freight is picked up and delivered to the origin and prior to the delivery at the destination.


Motor Carrier Number (MC): Every carrier and 3PL is assigned a MC number. This number allows carriers to cross state lines and it also allows the government to track brokers through their system.


OFF DUTY: Any time a driver is free of responsibility or care of a CMV, is not performing or expected to perform work, and is welcome to leave the premises of the CMV in order to pursue activities of their choosing.

ON DUTY: All time from when a driver begins compensated work, or is required to be ready to work, until the time the driver is relieved of all responsibilities for performing work.

OVER DIMENSIONAL: Special permits are required for Oversized Loads; May vary by state.

OVER THE ROAD (OTR): Driving for typically 3+ weeks across all 48 states.



POWER ONLY: Operating without a trailer.

PO NUMBER: Tracking and identification number given to freight once it is picked up and in transit.

PROOF OF DELIVERY (POD): Also known as a Delivery Receipt. Document signed at the time of delivery notating damage or loss, or if the freight is delivered as expected. PODs are valuable in the filing of freight claims

PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE: The regular and routine maintenance of assets to keep them running and to prevent costly repairs.


RATE CONFIRMATION: An agreement between a broker and a carrier that verifies the rate& must be signed prior to picking up a delivery.

REEFER: Type of equipment that is temperature controlled. Most often a refrigerated truck used to transport perishable items.

REGIONAL: Regional trucking refers to the area in which a truck driver primarily operates. In regional trucking, as opposed to national or local trucking, truck drivers operate within a specific region that typically covers a few states or, roughly, a 1,000-mile radius



SHIPPER: Origin party of a freight shipment, and the opposite of a consignee. Shippers are responsible for getting the BOL to the carrier at the time of pickup.

SHORT SHIPMENT: When freight is delivered but is missing pieces as notated by the BOL.

SKID: (48×40) Accessible by 2 sides. Can hold up to 2,500 lbs., weighs between 25-50 lbs.

STACKABLE FREIGHT: Freight that can be stacked on one another.

STEP DECK: Type of equipment used in truckload shipping for larger pieces.



TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (TMS): A web-based tool or software that assists customers or carriers in scheduling pickups, creating BOLs, tracking shipments, and more

TRUCKLOAD (TL): A type of freight shipping that specializes in moving freight that takes up a full truckload of space. TL is different from LTL, and has its own carrier and pricing structure.


get access to certain high risk & high valued freight.



UNIFIED CARRIER REGISTRATION (UCR): Federally mandated system for registering operators of commercial vehicles in interstate and intrastate commerce

bottom of page