OTR – Over The Road, meaning irregular route, 48 state capable. Also called long-distance trucking. Typically OTR drivers are away from home 1 week to a few months before going home, depending on company practice.
HOS – Hours of Service. The federal regulations on driving and working for CDL drivers. CDL freight drivers, opposed to passenger drivers, are allowed to work & drive up to 70 hours in 8 days. The HOS measure work/drive time over a rolling 8 day period.
Qualcomm – computer terminal/communication system installed in the cab of a tractor/truck. Typically the Qualcomm is used to send dispatch messages to the driver, such as directions, load information, directions, progress during the trip. It’s similar to email. Most messages are sent using Macros.
PeopleNet – similar to Qualcomm offred by another company.
Macros – structured or canned message format. Driver fills out the form with pertinent details.
Pre-Trip or PTI – mandatory inspection by driver of his tractor & trailer before operating the combination for the day. The PTI must be noted in logbook or E-Log each day.
Drop & Hook – term meaning the driver will change trailers at a location, typically the customer or company terminal, rather than having the trailer loaded or unloaded
Live Load/Unload – the driver will have his trailer loaded/unloaded, typically by employees of the shipper/receiver, while the driver waits. This can take from 30 minutes to hours.
Backhaul – term meaning next load, or sometimes load going back home. Drive A has a load going to Los Angeles, CA and will pick up his Backhaul in Barstow, CA to deliver in Olathe, KS.
MT or MTY – abbreviation meaning empty trailer
Trl – abbreviation meaning trailer
Tandems – combination of axles/wheels. The most common semi-truck & trailer has one STEER axle (front axles connected to the steering wheel), 2 axles plus associated wheels called DRIVES connected to the truck/tractor drive shaft at the rear of truck/tractor, and 2 axles & associated wheels near rear of trailer. On many trailers the rear tandems can be adjusted forward and backwards to distribute the weight of the freight & trailer. This is called “sliding the tandems.” There are legal limits on the gross weight of the vehicle & freight plus individual tandem weights for the sets of axles. The most common limits are 12,000 pounds for the STEER axle, 34,000 pounds for DRIVE axles, and 34,000 pounds for trailer TANDEMS. The most common gross weight limit is 80,000 pounds for total weight of vehicle and freight.
Fifth Wheel or 5th Wheel – the couple device and load bearing surface that connects the trailer to the back of the semi-truck/tractor.
Kingpin – heavy-duty steel shaft attached to underside of trailers that engages the 5th wheel of the tractor. The kingpin and 5th wheel allow the truck & trailer to bend & pivot to negotiate corners and curves.
Daycab – truck/tractor normally used for regional or city driving. The vehicle has no sleeping area behind the driver’s seat.
Sleeper Truck – a truck/tractor used for OTR driving that has room for a bed/bunk behind the driver compartment.
Inverter – electical device that converts the 12 volt DC power generated by the truck batteries/alternator into the household current of 120 volts AC. Inverters are usually rated for a certain amount of power, measured in watts. Most often any inverter providing above 300-500 watts will be required to be wired into the truck batteries. Below the 300-500 watts the inverter may be plugged directly into the truck DC power jackor cigarette lighter outlet.
Electric cooler – a 12 volt DC powered cooler that can keep food cool to about 40 degrees below ambient. Most common method for preserving food in the truck. As trucks are fitted with inverters dorm-style refrigerators are quite common also.
Lunchbox Cooker – a 12 volt DC powered food heater. With this, or alternative device, it’s possible to do most cooking chores from heating a Hot Pocket to cooking a full chicken and vegetables. Cooking times can range from 15 minutes to 3 hours depending on what is being cooked.
Satellite Radio – hardware and programming service, similar to DirecTV or DISH Network but for radio. Alternatively called Sirius or XM Radio. Think Cable TV but for radio.
ComData – financial service company providing “credit card” for fuel purchase and Comchecks for paying for expenses on the road.
DEF – Liquid the truck uses to comply with EPA emmision regulations. DEF is sold similar to diesel at fuel pumps and is also available in totes or boxes. If your truck requires DEF and you run out, the engine may be DE-RATED and drive in a “limp-home” mode.
DON”T RUN OUT OF DEF.
Super Single – type of tire mean to replace the 2 tires on the end of axles. Think of one wide tire to replace two narrow tires. The selling point of Super Singles is fewer tires to buy & maintain and better fuel economy.
Pigtail – electrical cable/connector that runs between back of truck/tractor and front of trailer. Through this cable the trailer lights are powered as well as data connection for Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS).
Glad-hand – the device at the end of the air hoses between tractor and trailer. The gladhand provides a method for attaching the tractor airlines to the trailer to charge the brake system.
DOT – Department of Transportation. The rulemaking agency that oversees trucking. The IRS of trucking.
PrePass, EZPass – a transponder based system that allows for in-motion paying of tolls and communication from weigh station and truck. Typically a small plastic box is mounted on the windshield of the truck. Through this box the driver can be notified of need to enter a weigh station or being excused from the need to enter the weigh station.
If you want to know other terms please ask. Most CB radio terms are falling out of use as CB radio use declines For example 10-20 means current location. The drivers that still use CB will mostly as for your location. CB radio can be very useful. It’s seemed to die as satellite radio & podcasts have filled the entertainment space and cellphones have filled the communication space for truck drivers.