Accessorial service: a service rendered by a carrier secondary to a transportation service. Examples are storage, reconsignment, stopping in transit to complete loading or to partially unload, etc.

Ad Valorem Tax: a charge levied on persons or organizations based on the value of transaction. It is normally a given percentage of the price at the retail or manufacturing state and is a common form of sales tax e.g., federal excise tax on new trucks and trailers. 

Agent: person authorized to transact business for and in the name of another. 

Assets: future economic benefits obtained by an entity as a result of past transactions or events.

ATA: American Trucking Associations, Inc. — serves the united interests of the trucking industry through a national federation of 50 independent state trucking associations plus the District of Columbia (each representing all classes and types of trucking operation), 12 independent conferences (each representing a special class or type truck operation) and the national headquarters. 

Audit of freight bills: the process of verifying if transportation charges shown on the carrier’s freight bill are reasonable. 

Automobile transporter: any company certified to transport motor vehicles by hauling them on special vehicles or driving them.


Average Annual Daily Truck Traffic (AADTT) – The total volume of truck traffic on a highway segment for one year, divided by the number of days in the year.

Axle weight: amount of weight transmitted to the highway by one axle.


Backhaul – The process of a transportation vehicle (typically a truck) returning from the original destination point to the point of origin. A backhaul can be with a full or partially loaded trailer.

Balance sheet: a financial statement listing all assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity at a certain date. 

Balloon freight: light, bulky cargo. 

Barge – The cargo-carrying vehicle that inland water carriers primarily use. Basic barges have open tops, but there are covered barges for both dry and liquid cargoes.

Basing point: a point in which rates to another destination are computed through. For example, a rate from Louisville, KY to a point near Jacksonville, Fl is computed as follows: The rate form Louisville to Jacksonville to the nearby point. Jacksonville, in this case, is the basing point. 

Basing rate: (see proportional rate) 

Belly Cargo – Air freight carried in the belly of passenger aircraft. 

Bill of Lading – A transportation document that is the contract of carriage containing the terms and condition between shipper and carrier.

Blue label: atomic material shipment.

Bobtail: truck operating without a trailer. 

Bogey: a two-axle assembly.

Bottleneck – A section of a highway or rail network that experiences operational problems such as congestion. Bottlenecks may result from factors such as reduced roadway width or steep freeway grades that can slow trucks.

Bottler’s body: truck or trailer body designed primarily for the transportation of cased bottled beverages. 

Box: trailer or semi-trailer. Also, the transmission of a motor vehicle.

Boxcar – An enclosed railcar, typically 40 or more feet long, used for packaged freight and some bulk commodities.

Breakbulk: to separate a composite load into individual shipments and route to different destinations.

Breakbulk Cargo – Cargo of non-uniform sizes, often transported on pallets, sacks, drums, or bags. These cargoes require labor-intensive loading and unloading processes. Examples of breakbulk cargo include coffee beans, logs, or pulp.

Bridge law: federal regulations specifying maximum weight based on the distance in feet between axles. 

Broker – A person whose business it is to prepare shipping and customs documents for international shipments. Brokers often have offices at major freight gateways, including border crossings, seaports, and airports.

Brokerage license: authority granted by Interstate Commerce Commission to persons engaged in the business of arranging for motor vehicle transportation of persons or property in interstate commerce.

Bulk Cargo – Cargo that is unbound as loaded; it is without count in a loose unpackaged form. Examples of bulk cargo include coal, grain, and petroleum products.


Cab: driver’s compartment of a truck or tractor-trailer.

Cabotage – A national law that requires costal and intercostal traffic to be carried in its own nationally registered, and sometimes built and crewed ships.

Camel back body: truck body with floor curving downward at the rear. 

Capacity – The physical facilities, personnel, and process available to meet the product of service needs of the customers. Capacity generally refers to the maximum output or producing ability of a machine, a person, a process, a factory, a product, or a service.

Cargo Ramp – A dedicated load/unload facility for cargo aircraft.

Carload – Quantity of freight (in tons) required to fill a railcar; amount normally required to qualify for a carload rate.

Carrier – A firm which transports goods or people via land, sea, or air.

Carrier’s lien: carrier’s claim on property it has transported as security for charges. 

Cartage (local) hauling between locations in the same town or city or contiguous municipalities. 

Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity: authority of certificate granted by the ICC or state regulatory agencies and required of certain for-hire carriers. 

Centralized Dispatching – The organization of the dispatching function into one central location. This structure often involves the use of data collection devices for communication between the centralized dispatching function, which usually reports to the production control department and the shop manufacturing departments.

Charge backs: those costs assumed by the carrier for independent contractors. It is understood through the lease that these costs will be charged back to the independent contractor at a later date. 

Chassis – A trailer-type device with wheels constructed to accommodate containers, which are lifted on and off.

Circuitous route: an indirect route. 

City-liner: truck used in the city for pickup and delivery. Also called “cub,” “pickup,” “whoopee,” and “shags.”

Claim – Charges made against a carrier for loss, damage, delay, or overcharge.

Class I Carrier – A classification of regulated carriers based upon annual operating revenues-motor carrier of property greater than or equal to $5 million; railroads: greater than or equal to $50 million: motor carriers of passengers; greater than or equal to $3 million.

Class II Carrier – A classification of regulated carriers based upon annual operating revenues-motor carrier of property $1- $5 million; railroads: $10-$50 million: motor carriers of passengers; less than or equal to $3 million.

Class III Carrier – A classification of regulated carriers based upon annual operating revenues-motor carrier of property less than or equal to $1 million; railroads: greater than or equal to $10 million.

Classification (freight): a publication containing a list of articles and the classes to which they are assigned for the purpose of applying class rates, together with governing rules and regulations.

Classification Yard – A railroad terminal area where railcars are grouped together to form train units.

Clean bill of lading: a bill of lading signed by the carrier for receipt of merchandise in good condition (no damage, loss, etc., apparent) and which does not bear such notion as “shipper’s load and count.” 

Clearing house: an organization set up to process and collect bills from participating trucking companies. 

Coastal Shipping – Also known as short-sea or coastwise shipping, describes marine shipping operations between ports along a single coast or involving a short sea crossing.

Commodity – An Item that is traded in commerce. The term usually implies an undifferentiated product competing primarily on price and availability.

Commodity tariff: a tariff containing only commodity rates.

Common Carrier – Any carrier engaged in the interstate transportation of persons/property on a regular schedule at published rates, whose services are for hire to the general public.

Concealed damage: a damage to the contents of a package which is apparently in good condition externally. 

Concealed loss: loss or damage that cannot be determined until the package is opened.

Consignee – The receiver of a freight shipment, usually the buyer.

Consignor – The sender of a freight shipment, usually the seller.

Container – A “box”‘ typically ten to forty feet long, which is used primarily for ocean freight shipment. For travel to and from ports, containers are loaded onto truck chassis’ or on railroad flatcars.

Container on Flatcar (COFC) – Containers resting on railway flatcars without a chassis underneath.

Containerization – A shipment method in which commodities are placed in containers, and after initial loading, the commodities per se are not re-handled in shipment until they are unloaded at destination.

Containerized Cargo – Cargo that is transported in containers that can be transferred easily from one transportation mode to another.

Contract Carrier – Carrier engaged in interstate transportation of persons/property by motor vehicle on a for-hire basis, but under continuing contract with one or a limited number of customers to meet specific needs.

Convertible: a truck or trailer that can be used either as a flatbed or open top by means of removing side panels.

Cubage – Cubic volume of space being used or available for shipping or storage.

Cubic foot: a common measure of the capacity of a truck. 1,728 cubic inches.

Current assets and liabilities: assets which can be liquidated and liabilities due in less than one year.


Deadhead – The return of an empty transportation container back to a transportation facility. Commonly used description of an empty backhaul.

Destination: the place to which a shipment is to be delivered.

Detention: see demurrage. 

Detention Fee – The carrier charges and fees applied when rail freight cars, ship and carriers are retained beyond a specified loading or unloading time.

Demurrage – The carrier charges and fees applied when rail freight cars and ships are retained beyond a specific loading or unloading time.

Differential rate: the amount added to or subtracted from a through (basing) rate to make a rate. For example, the rate Chicago to Philadelphia is made up of the basis rate (Chicago to New York) less the differential basis (or rate) to Philadelphia.

Direct to store – Process of shipping direct from a manufacturer’s plant or distribution center to the customer’s retail store, thus bypassing the customer’s distribution center.

Dispatcher – An individual tasked to assign available transportation loads to available carriers.

Dispatching: the scheduling and control of intercity traffic and intracity pickup and delivery.

Distance rate: charge made on basis of miles traveled, often used as one component of a freight rate.

Distribution Center (DC) – The warehouse facility which holds inventory from manufacturing pending distribution to the appropriate stores.

Dock – A space used or receiving merchandise at a freight terminal.

Dolly: an auxiliary axle assembly having a fifth wheel used for purpose of converting a semi-trailer to a full trailer. 

DOT: Department of Transportation

Double bottom: combination consisting of a truck tractor, a semi-trailer, and a full trailer coupled together.

Double-stack – Railcar movement of containers stacked two high.

Dray body: see camel back body.

Drayage – Transporting of rail or ocean freight by truck to an intermediate or final destination; typically, a charge for pickup/delivery of goods moving short distances (e.g., from marine terminal to warehouse).

Dromedary: a vehicle which combines features of a truck and truck tractor. It has a van body at the rear of the cab and a fifth wheel to the rear of the body.

Drop – A situation in which an equipment operator deposits a trailer or boxcar at a facility at which it is to be loaded or unloaded.

Dump body: truck or trailer body of any type which can be tilted to discharge its load by gravity.

Dunnage: the material used to protect or support freight in trucks. The weight of dunnage is shown separately on the bill of lading since it is material used around a cargo to prevent damage.

Dyno check: the placement of the power vehicle on a device which indicates horsepower delivered to the ground.

Durable Goods – Generally, any goods whose continuous serviceability is likely to exceed three years.



Elkins Act: a law providing penalties for giving rebates and other violations of the Interstate Commerce Act.

En route: on the way.

Entry (customs) a statement of the kinds, quantities, and values of goods imported together with duties due, if any, declared before a customs office or designated officer.

Escrow: money placed with a third person with direction to use it for a specific purpose, usually payment of taxes or insurance.

Exclusive use of truck: a request made by a shipper on the bill of lading for the complete use of a vehicle.

Exempt Carrier – A for-hire carrier that is free from economic regulation. Trucks hauling certain commodities are exempt from Interstate Commerce Commission economic regulation. By far the largest portion of exempt carrier transports agricultural commodities or seafood.

Exempt commodity: a commodity that may be transported in both interstate and intrastate commerce without operating authority or published rates.




FCC: Federal Communications Commission. 

FICA: Federal Insurance Contribution Ac (Social Security). 

Fifth wheel: a device used to connect a semi-trailer and tractor. 

Fixed charges: carrier costs that do not vary with an increase or decrease in traffic. An accounting classification, sometimes called fixed operation costs. 

Flatbed – A trailer without sides used for hauling machinery or other bulky items.

Float: see flatbed. 

For-hire Carrier – Carrier that provides transportation service to the public on a fee basis.

Free-astray: a shipment miscarried or unloaded at the wrong terminal is billed and forwarded to the correct terminal free of charge because it is astray. Hence the term “free-astray.”

Free on board (FOB): usually indicates place where responsibility for expenses and risk for goods is passed from seller to buyer. For example, FOB motor carrier would usually mean that a price quoted for goods would include loading on a truck at the seller’s building. This term is not always used precisely and it’s best to qualify it to show exactly what is meant.

Free time: the period freight will be held before storage charges are applied. 

Freight All Kinds (FAK) – Goods classified FAK are usually charged higher rates than those marked with a specific classification and are frequently in a container that includes various classes of cargo.

Freight bill: document for a carrier shipment giving a description of the freight, its weight, amount of charges, the rate of charges, taxes, and whether it is collect or prepaid. If the charges are paid in advance or are to be collected at the origin, it is called a prepaid freight bill. If the charges are to be collected at the destination, it is called a destination or collect freight bill.

Freight charges: payment due for freight transportation. 

Freight Forwarder – A person whose business is to act as an agent on behalf of a shipper. A freight forwarder frequently consolidates shipments from several shippers and coordinates booking reservations.

Free Trade Zone (FTZ) – An area or zone set aside at or near a port or airport, under the control of the U.S. Customs Service, for holding goods duty-free pending customs clearance.

Fuel-Taxed Waterway System – Eleven thousand miles of the U.S. waterway system designated by the Water Resources Development Act of 1986. Commercial users of this system pay a per gallon fuel tax which is deposited in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and used to fund inland navigation projects each year.

Four P’s – Set of marketing tools to direct the business offering to the customer. The four P’s are product, price, place and promotion.

Full trailer: truck trailer with wheels on both ends (as compared to a semi-trailer in which the front rests on the rear of the power unit. 

Furniture van body: Truck body designed primarily for transportation of furniture or household goods. Furniture van trailers are usually of drop frame construction. 

FUTA: Federal Unemployment Tax Act.


General freight carrier: a carrier which handles a wide variety of commodities, typically in LTL quantities and generally involves the use of terminal facilities to break and consolidate shipments. 

Goods: merchandise.

Grain body: low side open top truck or trailer body primarily designed to transport dry fluid commodities.

Grandfather rights: the right provided in the Motor Carrier Act for a common or contract carrier to obtain a certification of public convenience and necessity to operate over the route or routes, over which it or its predecessor in interest was in bona fide operation on June 1, 1935, without further proof of public convenience and necessity.

Gray area: except for those carrying certain exempt commodities, for-hire trucking companies must be certificated and regulated by state and federal governments. “Gray area” carriers illegally operate as for-hire carriers using some form of subterfuge or camouflage.

Gross combination weight (GCW) how much the entire rig weighs including tractor, trailer, and load.

Gross ton: 2,240 pounds. More commonly called a long ton. 

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) – The combined total weight of a vehicle and its freight.

Gypsy: an independent truck operator who drives his own truck and obtains freight wherever he can.


Hazardous Material – A substance or material which the Department of Transportation has determined to be capable of posing a risk to health, safety, and property when stored or transported in commerce.

Heater service: protection by heat of freight that would be damaged by freezing.

Heavy specialized carrier: a trucking company franchised to transport articles which because of size, shape, weight, or other inherent characteristics require special equipment for loading, unloading, or transporting.

High-cube: a body with above average cubic content. Usually constructed with low floors and thin walls.

High torque rise engines: the latest technology in fuel efficient engines.

Hopper body: truck or trailer body capable of discharging its load through a bottom opening without tilting.

Horse van body: truck or trailer body designed primarily for the transportation of valuable horses.

Hot load: emergency shipment of cargo needed in a hurry.

Hours of Service – Ruling that stipulates the amount of time a driver is allotted to work.

Household good miles: a source of mileage between points commonly used by shippers and carriers for freight rate purposes.

Hub – A common connection point for devices in a network. Referenced for a transportation network as in “hub and spoke” which is common in the airline and trucking industry.


In-bond Shipment – A shipment status in which goods are permitted to enter a country and temporarily stored for transport to a final destination where the duty will be paid.

Inbound Logistics – The movement of materials from shippers and vendors into production processes or storage facilities.

Independent contractor: the person who owns and operates a truck, leasing himself and/or his rig for hauling products interstate. Same as owner-operator.

Interline Freight – Freight moving from point of origin to destination over the lines of two or more transportation lines.

Intermodal terminal – A location where links between different transportation modes and networks connect. Using more than one mode of transportation in moving persons and goods. For example, a shipment moved over 1000 miles could travel by truck for one portion of the trip, and then transfer to rail at a designated terminal.

Initial carrier: the transportation line that picks up a shipment from the shipper.

Initial point: the point at which a shipment originates.

Insulated van body: van body designed primarily for transportation of commodities at controlled temperatures. It may be provided with equipment for refrigeration or heating.

Interchange points: a terminal where freight is transferred from one transportation line to another.

Interline freight: freight moving from point of origin to destination over the lines of two or more transportation companies.

Intermediate carrier (bridge): a transportation line hauling a shipment between the originating and delivery carrier.

Interstate: between states.

Intrastate: within a state.

Inventory – The number of units and/or value of the stock of good a company holds.


Jacket: a cover placed around such containers as cans and bottles.

Joint rate: a rate for hauling a single shipment over two or more independent transportation lines, which cooperate to offer a through service. The shipment travels on one bill of lading.

Joint routes: routes established by two or more connecting carriers for the continuous through-movement of traffic over their lines.

Just-in-Time (JIT) – Cargo or components that must be at a destination at the exact time needed. The container or vehicle is the movable warehouse.


Knocked down: a term denoting that an article is partially or entirely taken apart (net set up).

Known damage: damage discovered before or at the time of delivery of a shipment.

Known loss: loss discovered before or at the time of delivery of a shipment.



Lading: that which constitutes a load; the freight in a vehicle.

Lawful rate: any rate constructed and published in accordance with the laws, rules and regulations administered by the ICC in interstate traffic, or by state commissions in intrastate traffic.

Layover time: the non-working time that a road driver spends away from his home terminal before being dispatched to some other destination.

Lead-time – The total time that elapses between an order’s placement and it receipt. It includes the time required for order transmittal, order processing, order preparation, and transit.

Less-Than-Containerload/Less-Than-Truckload (LCL/LTL) – A container or trailer loaded with cargo from more than one shipper; loads that do not by themselves meet the container load or truckload requirements.

Level of Service (LOS) – A qualitative assessment of a road’s operating conditions. For local government comprehensive planning purposes, level of service means an indicator of the extent or degree of service provided by, or proposed to be provided by, a facility based on and related to the operational characteristics of the facility. Level of service indicates the capacity per unit of demand for each public facility.

Lift-on/Lift-off (lo/lo) Cargo – Containerized cargo that must be lifted on and off vessels and other vehicles using handling equipment.

Lift tail gate: a power-operated tail gate capable of lifting a load from street level to the level of the truck or trailer floor.

Line Haul – The movement of freight over the road/rail from origin terminal to destination terminal, usually over long distances.

Liquid Bulk Cargo – A type of bulk cargo that consists of liquid items, such as petroleum, water, or liquid natural gas.

Live axle: axle driven by engine.

Live Load – As situation in which the equipment operation stays with the trailer or boxcar while being loaded or unloaded.

Livestock body: truck or trailer body designed primarily for the transportation of livestock.

Loaded mile: distance traveled with a loaded trailer.

Local cartage carrier: a company that transports property entirely within the commercial zone of a municipality (or contiguous cities). This may be pickup and delivery service for a line haul carrier.

Local rate: a rate applying between stations located on the same transportation line.

Local tariff: a tariff containing rates applicable only between terminals located on the same transportation line.

Lock – A channel where the water rises and falls to allow boats to travel a dammed river.

Log body: truck or trailer body designed primarily for the transportation of logs or other loads which may be boomed or chained in place.

Logbook: a book carried by truck drivers containing daily records of hours, routes, etc. logbooks are required by ICC regulations.

Logistics – All activities involved in the management of product movement, delivering the right product from the right origin to the right destination, with the right quality and quantity, at the right schedule and price.

Long ton: 2,240 pounds.

Low-bed trailer: open truck trailer constructed to provide a low platform height. Designed for the transportation of extremely heave or bulky property.

Low-boy: see Low-bed trailer.

Lumpers – Individuals that assist a motor carrier owner operator in the unloading of property; quite commonly used in the food industry.



Manifest: a document describing a shipment or the contents of a vehicle or ship.

Mark: slang expression used to refer to a shipment, as in “large Mark,” “4 Marks.”

Marks: letters, numbers and characters put on a package for identification.

Maximum gross combination weight: the most weight allowed by law for a tractor and loaded trailer combined.

Maximum rate: the highest lawful rate that may be charged.

Memorandum bill of lading: a duplicate copy of a bill of lading.

Mileage tariff: a tariff containing rates applied according to distance.

Minimum rate: the lowest lawful rate that may be charged.

Minimum truckload weight: the lowest weight at which a shipment is handled at a truck load rate.

Mixed truckload: a truckload consisting of different articles in a single shipment.

Mode: frequently used to refer to the basis divisions of the transportation industry. The principal modes of transportation are truck, rail, air and water.

Munitions carrier: a company that transports munitions by motor vehicle.

Multi-stop body: fully enclosed truck body with driver’s compartment specifically designed for quick and easy entrance and exit.


Neo-bulk Cargo – Shipments consisting entirely of units of a single commodity, such as cars, lumber, or scrap metal.

Net weight: (a) the weight of an article excluding packing and container; (b) as applied to a truckload, the weight of the entire contents of the truck.

Node – A fixed point in a firm’s logistics system where goods come to rest; includes plants, warehouses, supply sources, and markets.

Non-powered axle: an axle that supports part of the vehicle weight but does not transmit driving force to the wheels. Also called a dead axle.

Non-regulated trucking: a carrier which is exempt from economic regulation, e.g. exempt agricultural shipments and private trucking operations.


OS&D – Over, short, and damaged. Report is issued at warehouse when goods are damaged; claim is usually filed with the carrier.

Oilfield body: heavily constructed platform type truck body equipped with a rear end roller or bullnose adapted for winch loading. Designed primarily for work in oil fields.

On-dock Rail – Direct shipside rail service. Includes the ability to load and unload containers/breakbulk directly from rail car to vessel.

Open top: a truck or trailer without a permanent metal top.

Outbound Logistics – The process related to the movement and storage of products from the end of the production line to the end user.

Operating Ratio – A measure of operation efficiency defined as: (Operating Expenses/Operation Revenues) x 100.

Owner-operator – Trucking operation in which the owner of the truck is also the driver.


Pallet: a portable platform for holding material for storage or transportation.

Palletized: stacked on pallets.

Parasitic horsepower: power produced by the engine but absorbed by vehicle components before being delivered to the ground by the drive tires.

Payload: total weight of the commodity being carried on a truck at a given time including packaging, banding, etc.

Peddle freight: shipments delivered from a terminal location to small surrounding communities beyond normal delivery limits.

Peddle run: truck run with frequent deliveries en route.

Perishable freight: freight subject to decay or deterioration.

Permits: (a) authority granted by the ICC to allow motor carriers to operate in interstate commerce; (b) permission granted to carriers by states to transport freight exceeding legal weight and size limits.

Piggybacks: transportation of a highway trailer on a rail flatcar.

Placard – A label that identifies a hazardous material shipment and the hazards present.

Point of origin: the terminal at which a shipment is received by a transportation line form the shipper.

Pole trailer: truck trailer which uses a rigid pole as a structural member connecting the axle unit to the truck pulling it. They are used to haul long, rigid loads such as logs, poles, pipe, and other cargo capable of resting as a beam between the axle unit and the truck pulling the trailer.

Pool/Drop Trailers – Trailer that are staged at facilities for preloading purposes.


Port Authority – State or local government that owns, operates, or otherwise provides wharf, dock, and other terminal investments at ports.

Powered axle: an axle that supports a portion of the vehicle weight and transmits a driving force to the wheels. Frequently called a drive axle.

Power unit: see tractor.

Private Carrier – A carrier that provides transportation service to the firm that owns or leases the vehicles and does not charge a fee.

Private Warehouse – A company owned warehouse.

Prepaid – A freight term, which indicates that charges are to be paid by the shipper. Prepaid shipping charges may be added to the customer invoice, or the cost may be bundled into the pricing of the product.

Proportional rate: a rate specifically published to be used only as a factor in making a combination through rate. A rate from New York to Chicago published to apply only on traffic destined points beyond Chicago would be a proportional rate.

Proof of Delivery – Information supplied by the carrier containing the name of the person who signed for the shipment, the time and date of delivery, and other shipment delivery related information.

Pull Logistics System – “Just in time” logistics system driven by customer demand and enabled by telecommunications and information systems rather than by manufacturing process and inventory stockpiling.

Purchase Order (PO) – The purchaser’s authorization used to formalize a purchase transaction with a supplier. The physical form or electronic transaction a buyer uses when placing an order for merchandise.

Purchased transportation: payment of local charges to a connecting carrier, with whom we do not have occurrence of a joint route for delivering a shipment to a point we have rights to service, but which we give to the connecting carrier for our operating convenience.

Push Logistics System – Inventory-based logistics system characterized by regularly scheduled flows of products and high inventory levels.


Rag top: open top trailer using a tarpaulin for a covering.

Rail Siding – A very short branch off a main railway line with only one point leading onto it. Sidings are used to allow faster trains to pass slower ones or to conduct maintenance.

Rate: the charge for transporting freight.

Rate basis: a formula containing the specific factors used in making a rate.

Rated freight bill: a freight bill showing quantities, price per unit, and total price.

Rate scale: a table of rates graduated according to distance or zones.

Reciprocity: the granting of privileges by a state to vehicles or vehicle owners from another state in return for similar privileges. The privileges may be complete exemption from the payment of all fees and motor vehicle taxes or partial exemption.

Recooper: repair damaged cartons or containers.

Red label: a label required on shipments or articles of an inflammable character.

Reefer: a refrigerated trailer used for carrying refrigerated products.

Reefer Trailer – A refrigerated trailer that is commonly used for perishable goods.

Regional Railroad – Railroad defined as line-haul railroad operating at least 350 miles of track and/or earns revenue between $40 million and $266.7 million.

Regulated carrier: those carriers transporting commodities for which operating authority from the ICC is required.

Regulated commodities: those commodities which are transported under governmental regulation.

Reliability – Refers to the degree of certainty and predictability in travel times on the transportation system. Reliable transportation systems offer some assurance of attaining a given destination within a reasonable range of an expected time. An unreliable transportation system is subject to unexpected delays, increasing costs for system users.

Reparation: compensation for damage.

Restricted articles: commodities that cannot be handled at all or may be handled under certain specific conditions.

Reverse Logistics – A specialized segment of logistics focusing on the movement and management of products and resources after the sale and after delivery to the customer. Includes product returns and repair for credit.

Receiving – The function encompassing the physical receipt of material, the inspection of the shipment for conformance with the purchase order (quantity and damage), the identification and delivery to destination, and the preparation of receiving reports.

Return to Vendor (RTV) – Material that has been rejected by the customer or buyer’s inspection department and is awaiting shipment back to supplier for repair or replacement.

Radio Frequency (RFID) – A form of wireless communication that lets users relay information via electronic energy waves from a terminal to a base station, which is linked in turn to a host computer. The terminals can be placed at a fixed station, mounted on a forklift truck, or carried in the worker’s hand. The base station contains a transmitter and receiver for communication with the terminals. When combined with a bar-code system for identifying inventory items, a radio-frequency system can relay data instantly, thus updating inventory records in so-called “real time”.

Rig: truck, tractor semi-trailer truck and full trailer, or other combinations.

Riggers body: truck body similar to an oilfield body designed primarily for rigging work.

Roll-on/Roll-off (ro/ro) Cargo – Wheeled cargo, such as automobiles, or cargo carried on chassis that can be rolled on or off vehicles without using cargo handling equipment.


Seasonality – Repetitive pattern of demand from year to year (or other repeating time interval) with some periods considerably higher than others. Seasonality explains the fluctuation in demand for various recreational products, which are used during different seasons.

Semi-trailer: truck-trailer equipped with one or more axles and constructed so that the front end rests upon a truck-tractor. A substantial part of the weight of both trailer and load rests on the tractor.

Shipper – Party that tenders goods for transportation.

Shippers’ load and count: indicates that the contents of a truck were loaded and counted by the shipper and not checked or verified by the transportation line.

Shipper’s order: the document authorizing release of a shipment (See bill of lading).

Shipping order: instructions to carrier for transportation of a shipment. Usually, it is a copy of the bill of lading. Used also as a record by the freight agent at origin.

Shipping Manifest – A document that lists the pieces in a shipment.

Short Line Railroad – Freight railroads which are not Class I or Regional Railroads, that operate less than 350 miles of track and earn less than $40 million.

Shortage: when quantity received is less than that shown on the waybill.

Short-sea Shipping – Also known as coastal or coastwise shipping, describes marine shipping operations between ports along a single coast or involving a short sea crossing.

Short ton: 2,000 pounds (also, net ton)

Skid: a wooden platform on which heavy articles or packaged goods are placed to permit handling equipment.

Sleeper: truck with a sleeping compartment in the cab.

Sleeper cab: a truck tractor or more truck cab incorporating a bed or bunk.

Sleeper Team – Two drivers who operated a truck equipped with a sleeper berth; while one driver sleeps in the berth to accumulate mandatory off-duty time, the other driver operates the vehicle.

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) – A category of unit with unique combination of form, fit and function.

Sliding fifth wheel: a fifth wheel assembly capable of being moved forward or backward on the truck tractor to obtain desired load distribution between tractor and trailer axles.

Sliding tandem: a two-axle assembly capable of being moved forward or backward on the trailer body to obtain desired load distribution.

Specifications: descriptions of particulars or details.

Split pickup or delivery: an accessorial service of picking up or delivering portions of volume shipments at more than one place within origin or destination point boundaries.

Spread tandem: a two-axle assembly in which the axles are separated by distances substantially greater than that in conventional assemblies.

Stake body: truck or trailer platform body with readily removable stakes. The stakes may be joined by chains, slats or panels.

Standard rate: a rate established for direct routes from one point to another. Rates via other routes between the same points are set in relation to the standard rate.

Standard route: the carrier or carriers having a direct route between two points. 

Steering axle: an axle through which directional control of the vehicle is applied. A steering axle may be powered on non-powered. A unit may have more than one steering axle.

Stevedore: one who loads or unloads ships.

Straight truck: a truck with the body and engine mounted on the same chassis, as contrasted to a combination unit such as a tractor-semi-trailer.

Stock Outs – Merchandise that is requested by a customer but is temporarily unavailable. Also referred to as (OOS).

Stop Off Charge – Charge associated with a load that has more than one drop off point. Typically, the first stop of a multistop load is free, and then the charge applies to the subsequent stops.

Storage in transit: temporary safekeeping of a shipment at a point between origin and destination.

Stowage freight: freight stored or packed as in a terminal or on board a truck.

Strategic Highway Network (STRAHNET) – A network of highways which are important to the United States’ strategic defense policy, and which provide defense access, continuity, and emergency capabilities for defense purposes.

Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) – An interconnected and continuous rail line network consisting of over 38,000 miles of track serving over 170 defense installations.

Surcharge: a charge above the usual or customary charge.

Surtax: an additional or extra tax.

Switching and Terminal Railroad – Railroad that provides pick-up and delivery services to line-haul carriers.

Supply Chain – Starting with unprocessed raw materials and ending with final customer using the finished goods.


Tachograph: a device used in a cab to automatically record miles driven, number of stops, speed, and other factors during a trip.

Tandem: an assembly of two axles, either of which may be powered.

Tandem axle: an assembly of two axles, either of which may be powered.

Tank body: fully enclosed truck or tractor body designed to transport commodities, in bulk.

Tank trailer: fully enclosed truck trailer designed solely for the transportation of commodities in bulk.

Tank truck carrier: any for-hire carrier holding itself out to serve the general public and authorized to carry petroleum, chemical, liquid or dry commodities in bulk by means of specialized tank truck units.

Tare weight: (a) the weight of a container and the material used for packing; (b) as applied to a loaded truck, the weight of the truck exclusive of its contents.

Tariff: a published schedule showing the rates, fares, charges, classification, rules, regulations, etc., applying to transportation and incidental services.

Terminal: a facility including building structures, and equipment for the storage transfer, handling, delivery and reception of vehicles and materials.

TEU – Twenty-foot equivalent unit, a standard size intermodal container

Third-party Logistics (3PL) Provider – A specialist in logistics who may provide a variety of transportation, warehousing, and logistics-related services to buyers or sellers. These tasks were previously performed in-house by the customer.

Third structure tax: registration fees and gasoline taxes are called the first two structures of highway user taxation. Any other type of tax is called a third structure tax. 

Through rate: a rate applicable for transportation all the way from point of origin to destination. A through rate may be either a joint rate or a combination of two or more rates.

Throughput – Total amount of freight imported or exported through a seaport measured in tons or TEUs.

Tolerance: permissible variation. For example, some states allow a tolerance in their maximum truck weight limits.

Toll: a charge made for the use of a facility, such as a bridge or turnpike.

Trace: to check the movement of a shipment.

Tractor: a cab, the engine-powered vehicle used to pull a trailer.

Trailer: that part of the vehicle used to haul goods and hooked up to an engine-powered tractor.

Ton-mile – A measure of output for freight transportation; reflects weight of shipment and the distance it is hauled; a multiplication of tons hauled by the distance traveled.

Trailer on Flatcar (TOFC) – Transport of trailers with their loads on specially designed rail cars.

Transit time – The total time that elapses between a shipment’s delivery and pickup.

Transloading – Transferring bulk shipments from the vehicle/container of one mode to that of another at a terminal interchange point.

Trip lease: a one-trip-only lease.

Truck mile earnings: determined by dividing the gross freight revenue by total miles traveled.

Truckload (TL) – Quantity of freight required to fill a truck, or at a minimum, the amount required to qualify for a truckload rate.

Turnpike double: a combination vehicle consisting of a power unit (tractor) and two trailers of at least 40′ in length.

Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) – The 8-foot by 8-foot by 20-foot intermodal container is used as a basic measure in many statistics and is the standard measure used for containerized cargo.

Twin screw: a truck or tractor with two rear axles, both driven by the engine.

Twin trailer: a short semi-trailer (under 29′) designed to be operated as part of a combination vehicle with a tandem trailer of similar length.


Unclaimed freight: freight which has not been called for by the consignee or owner, or freight that cannot be delivered.

Uundercharge: to charge less than the proper amount.

Unit Train – A train of a specified number of railcars handling a single commodity type which remain as a unit for a designated destination or until a change in routing is made.


Valuation, actual: actual value of goods required to be shown on bill of lading by shipper, when rate to be applied is dependent on that fact.

Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT) – A unit to measure vehicle travel made by a private vehicle, such as an automobile, van, pickup truck, or motorcycle.

Via: by way of.

Volume rate: a low rate offered to shippers who agree to ship a large quantity of freight.


Warehouse – Storage place for products. Principal warehouse activities include receipt of product, storage, shipment, and order picking.

Waybill: description of goods sent with a common carrier freight shipment.

Weight-distance tax: a tax basing the fee per mile on the registered gross weight of the vehicle. Total tax liability is calculated by multiplying this rate times miles traveled.

Weight sheets: list furnished by shippers to weighing bureaus itemizing articles in each consignment.

Wet goods: liquids.


Yard jockey: person who operates a yard tractor or yard mule.

Yard mule: small tractor used to move semi-trailers around the terminal yard.


  • AAPA – American Association of Port Authorities
  • AASHTO – American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
  • ACE – Automated Commercial Environment
  • ATA – American Trucking Association
  • BTS – Bureau of Transportation Statistics
  • CBP – Customs Border Protection
  • CDL – Commercial Driver’s License
  • CFS – Commodity Flow Survey
  • CMAQ – Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Act
  • CMV – Commercial motor Vehicle
  • CTPAT – Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism
  • CVISN – Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks (CVISN), a national program administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration designed to improve motor carrier safety and to enhance the efficiency of administrative processes for industry and government.
  • CVO – Commercial Vehicle Operations
  • DOD – Department of Defense
  • FAST – Free and Secure Trade
  • FHWA – Federal Highway Administration
  • FMCSA – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  • FPD – Freight Professional Development
  • FRA – Federal Railroad Administration
  • GIS – Geo Information Systems
  • GPS – Global Positioning System
  • HERS – Highway Economic Requirements Systems
  • HPMS – Highway Performance Monitoring System
  • ICC -Interstate Commerce Commission
  • ITE – Institute of Transportation Engineers
  • ITS – Intelligent Transportation System
  • LTL – Less than truckload.
  • MPG – Miles Per Gallon
  • MUTCD – Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
  • NAFC– National Accounting & Finance Council
  • NAFTA – North American Free Trade Agreement
  • NHS – Nation Highway System
  • NVOCC – Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers
  • OS&D – Over, short, and damaged
  • OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • P&D – Pick-up and delivery.
  • POD – Proof of Delivery
  • POE – Port of Entry
  • SCAC – Standard Carrier Alpha Code
  • SECA – Self-Employment Contributions Act.
  • SED – Shipper’s Export Declaration
  • SLSC/SLDC – Shipper Load, Shipper Count/Shipper Load, Driver Count
  • STCC – Standard Transportation Commodity Classification
  • TEU – Twenty-foot equivalent unit
  • TOFC – Trailer on Flatcar/Railcar
  • TRANCAD – Transportation Computer Assisted Design

UFC – Uniform Freight Classification