Saturday, March 31, 2007


This is part one in a series of trucker terms – it’s a dictionary meant to “learn” you what truckers are talking about.

Large strips of rubber which have worn off recapped truck tires. When they’re lying on the highway, they look like ‘gators.

Any vehicle with a break in the middle. A car pulling a trailer or camper is articulated, as is a tractor-trailer combination. They require more training and skill to turn and back than a straight vehicle.

A skunk - more specifically a dead skunk whose odor still lingers.

BEAR Dot or Highway Patrol officer.

What truckers now call a tractor-trailer. The “in” term was, at one time, 18-wheeler or big rig.

BOBTAIL A tractor driving without a trailer.

This one confused the hell out of me when I first started driving. I always thought it had something to do with weight limits and bridges. It’s actually a formula for how close together your tractor and trailer tandems need to be. This regulates how much weight you are “bridging” between two sets of axels. Bridge laws vary from state to state.

A slang term for a livestock trailer. It doesn’t matter what kind of livestock is being transported – it’s still a bull hauler.

CB Citizen’s band radio. Used for two-way communications over short distances.

CDL Commercial Driver’s License. They come in two flavors, “A” and “B”. An “A” license means you can drive anything as long as you have an endorsement for it. You can drive tractor-trailers, but you need an endorsement to drive doubles and triples, hazardous materials or buses. The “B” license is normally for any non-articulating (not bending in the middle) vehicle such as a dump truck or the larger 6-wheeled delivery trucks that have a gross weight over 25,000 lbs.

Trucker term for a weigh station.

CONDO Newer tractors that have bunk beds, closets and spaces for a TV or refrigerator. You can actually stand up in them.

COPY CB speak for “Did you hear me?” as in “Did you copy that, driver?” the response would be: “10-4, driver. I copy.”

A flat bed trailer with wooden side walls that are about 3 to 4 feet high. These walls have metal hoops attached at the top that are covered with a tarp. This gives them the look of an old “Prairie Schooner” or covered wagon.

DAY CAB A tractor with no sleeper unit. Used normally by drivers who make all their deliveries in one day and return home each night. They’re about 10 feet shorter that a tractor with a sleeper, therefore easier to maneuver in city traffic and tight loading docks.

DEADHEAD Traveling with an empty trailer. Only done when absolutely necessary, because, while the driver makes mileage money, the company makes nothing if the trailer is empty. Because of the trailer’s lighter weight, they are also more difficult to stop.

Flashing lights on top of a police car. “Got a full grown headin’ north with the his disco lights on and the hammer down.”

DMV Department of Motor Vehicles. The state agency that enforces the DOT laws, which regulate the trucking industry.

DOT Department of Transportation. The Federal agency that writes the laws governing all commercial interstate movement on public highways.

The piece of steel that hangs down about 2 feet on the rear of a trailer. It is government mandated, and its sole purpose is to keep a speeding car from going under a trailer on impact. The next logical step would be DOT side bumpers.

The reflective red and silver tape on the sides and backs of trailers that will glow when hit by headlights. Especially helpful when a truck is broken down and its lights are not operating.

A hook engaged by the shipper/receiver when a truck backs into their loading dock. When they drop the dock plate, a hook simultaneously comes up and latches onto your DOT bumper. You cannot pull away from the dock without ripping off your bumper or their dock lock.

A drawbridge type contraption that levels a shipper/receiver’s loading dock with a trailer’s floor. It enables a forklift to run from the loading dock into a trailer.

DRIVER What “big truck” drivers now call each other, especially on the CB. At times may be interchangeable with shit head, dick head or sumbitch.

Trucker term for a traffic ticket. “There’s a full grown bear givin’ out driver’s awards back at the 254 yardstick.”

There will be more soon – honest.