Glossary of Trucking Terms

Common trucking terms you will find in Dr Dispatch

Glossary of Trucking Terms - Dr Dispatch

This list will evolve over time.  Bare in mind this list is designed to teach you the software’s terminology.  If Dr Dispatch TMS doesn’t reference COE (Cab Over Engine trucks) then it won’t be in the list.  If this list proves useful to others we will gladly expand to create a master list for everybody.

The first term is DRD, short for Dr Dispatch and used below countless times.

The Glossary of Trucking Terms by Dr Dispatch

Advance (to your driver)

A number sequence(com check, T-check etc) given to a driver to pay load or road expenses, can also be for personal stuff.


motor carrier authority is mandatory for trucking companies operating as for-hire carriers transporting passengers or regulated commodities while engaged in interstate commerce.


A trucking company or for-hire owner-operator that transports freight for shippers commercially.  A Dr Dispatch user can be a carrier or as a broker use a carrier.  An Owner Operator can be a carrier.

Company Driver

A driver who is hired and certified by a carrier that drives just for this carrier.


The company paying the freight invoice for a load(s).  Commonly the shipper.

A Service (Truck Maintenance)

A preventative checkup for a truck or trailer without an oil change

Agent (Broker)

Person who represents a truck company or brokerage, usually they bring loads or carriers to the table.  Very often remote user that brings security concerns (not wanting to see all customers on your books for example).

Accounts Payable or AP

Brokerage side of Dr Dispatch only – the carrier bills.  What you owe the carriers.  Doesn’t calculate in DRD until you invoice the load(s) for the carrier.

Accounts Receivable or AR

The amount your customers owe you.  Doesn’t calculate in DRD until you invoice the loads.

B service

Preventative checkup for a truck or trailer WITH an oil change


ALL paperwork accumulated during course of hauling a load from A to B

Bill of Lading

a legal document describing the freight and pickup/drop locations in a trailer or load


See Bill of Lading

Brokerage (dollar amount)

Base profit for a broker (gross pay(customer pays) – carrier pay).  DRD staff might say “is the brokerage amount missing from the report”?  In that case we mean brokerage to be profit.  Sometimes abbreviated to ‘Brok’

Broker (see also Agent above)

(see Relationships Between Broker And Dispatcher)

Person who acts as a intermediator between a shipper/customer and a carrier.  The broker will shave some of the revenue for their pay and often handle dispatch and everything related to the outside carrier to keep the experience consistent for the Shipper.  Dr Dispatch has a Broker and a carrier module and can handle dual authority with ease.  A broker with many agents will want office splitting and login security to hide their carriers and customers from others.  Dr Dispatch can handle that too.

Dr Dispatch was written by a Diesel tech turned dispatcher turned broker and agent.

Cargo Insurance

REQUIRED for all trucks to cover DAMAGE of freight items.  Brokers want to be sure their outside carriers maintain insurance.

Carrier Advance

A number sequence(com check, T-check etc) given to a carrier to pay load or road expenses, can even be partial load payment. to get REIMBURSED the driver must have proper receipts

Carrier on-boarding

The procedure of adding a new carrier to a brokerages carrier list, once they have insurance, authority & W9 on file, they are ‘on-boarded’

Carrier pay

Amount to pay outside truck for load (brokerage).  The difference between the customer’s pay (gross pay) and this is your profit as a broker.


Commercial Drivers License


A claim is made by a shipper seeking compensation from a carrier for freight damaged or lost during transmit. A claim can also be made by a trucking company or owner operator to an insurance company for vehicle damage caused by an accident.


Comdata’s way to give a driver expense money.  Basically a blank check that can only be used for fuel or other expenses with special authorization rules.


Description of the contents of a load.  What is being hauled.  Some commodities will have restrictions like fuel, explosives, hazardous, etc.


a trailer that is not attached to chassis, it has no wheels, just a box. allows stacking on ships, train cars ,etc.  Used for multi-mode transportation between land/sea.  Very popular to see these on the news post COVID on ships waiting to be unloaded or loaded.


Miles driven empty (no freight) to go handle freight.  You may charge a per mile for this as any truck moving is costing expense money.  You specifically want to watch for the ratio of dead head to loaded miles.


Diesel Exhaust Fluid.  Late model engines have small tanks to hold DEF, the engines computer sprays an amount of this in HOT exhaust to burn fuel better.


Amount given to carrier or driver if DETAINED by loading or unloading facility.  Detention fees help carriers from letting a facility tie up their trucks as you can’t pick up new loads if you’re stuck somewhere.  Detention is meant to discourage a shipping or receiving facility from keeping your assets busy and not out earning.  This implication is the driver is being detained and not the same as blowing a tire and being late – but if you’re charging detention you already know that.  A lot of large detention lines on rates back during Katrina where sending a truck was important and saving lives but you might not see the truck for weeks.  Just stack up detention and the truck is earning for you static.


Person who receives and transmits information to coordinate operations of vehicles carrying out a service.

DOT Number (DOT#)

Issued by the Department OF Transportation for operating authority

Driver Compliance

Items required to qualify a driver suck as random drug tests, CDL, physical, clean driving record, etc

Driver Pay

Amount drive is paid on load


A paid load stop where freight is removed or ‘dropped’ off.  In Dr Dispatch its a stop of type ‘D’ for drop.


“Electronic Data Interchange” -> the concept of businesses electronically communicating information that was traditionally communicated on paper, such as purchase orders and invoices and location updates


flat bed trailer

Flat Rate

A flat rate to do some work versus the standard rate * mile or rate * unit.

Fleet Owner

In Dr Dispatch you can contract non company drivers as fleet owners.  A Main ‘fleet owner’ record exists to pay the company name that can have 1 to infinite drivers on the load.  A load hauled by a fleet owner will note the driver’s name and details on each load but in payroll the company itself is paid.  Contrast that to a normal company driver that you pay via the payroll module – a fleet owner is for sub contracting.  If we ask ‘Is the driver part of a fleet owner’ we’re asking if it’s a company driver or a driver attached to a fleet company.

Floor Load

Boxes stacked on the floor requiring someone to LOAD & UNLOAD all the boxes (hire a LUMPER for the job) – no pallet

Fuel Surcharge

When fuel prices are higher then normal customer usually pays a surcharge to cover this overage.  It’s helpful to offer a good per rate with the fuel overages offloaded into this line item to signal to the customer that the rate is mostly higher due to fuel prices.

Fuel Tax

If a truck travels 350 miles across a state, the companies FLEET AVG MPG is used to decide how much fuel was burned in that 350 miles, if you do not buy enough fuel in that state you OWE fuel tax, if you bought more then enough you get refund.  Use our fuel tax module to report on this.  You need miler integration or something to auto break down the state miles on a load.  Using our fuel import integrations with a miler integration means nearly 100% automated fuel tax reporting as the fuel purchases and state miles are figured

Gross Pay

Gross customer revenue for the load aka customer pay


International Fuel Tax Agreement-companies used to have to file card for each state, now one form does it all.  See fuel tax above


When a load takes multiple travel methods from point A to B (ship to yard to truck to yard to warehouse to box truck).  Same as Intermodal above.  For Dr Dispatch it means container handling with container numbers and last free date.  Multi mode and Intermodal need turned on in Settings to use.


Truck unloads on Friday, cannot find another load until Monday = layover.  This is not detention

Load Board

A confusing one.  The list of active working loads is called the “Load Board” in Dr Dispatch but we also integrate with online load boards that are actually market places for freight.

Load Posting

The module (that was an addon but included with DRD now) in charge of posting your available loads to the various Internet Load Boards.


Less-than-truckload. LTL freight consists of small shipments from multiple customers that are consolidated before being transported.  Dr Dispatch consolidates on “Trips” which can put 2+ Pro Numbers together for billing and dispatch.  The customers get their bill off the Pro and the equipment is off the 1 consolidation trip.


a person hired to unload a trailer of freight.  Can be part of your rate breakdown.

Manifest Invoice

Invoice a customer for multiple loads in a batch.  Each load is 1 line on the invoice whereas normally each load is a page of invoice.

MC Number

Motor Carrier number or docket number. this is being replaced by DOT number. in both cases you apply for number, provide proof of public liability insurance then agency issues a unique number for the company


Dr Dispatch doesn’t maintain geo location data or anything that can be used to do routes and mileage.  We rely on products like Trimble Maps (Formerly PCMiler) or ProMiles Prime for these tasks.  We may ask “Do you use a miler?” meaning are you using any software to run your miles and do routes.  Typically we mean software meant to handle over the road trucks vs consumer products like Apple Maps.

Multi mode

When a load takes multiple travel methods from point A to B (ship to yard to truck to yard to warehouse to box truck).  Same as Intermodal above.  For Dr Dispatch it means container handling with container numbers and last free date.  Multi mode and Intermodal need turned on in Settings to use.

Net pay

This is gross pay less advances and expenses.

Owner Operator

A person that owns their own truck and hauls freight commercially with proper regulatory authority, insurance, etc.  Sometimes a team.  Sometimes one person runs the business/books from home and the driver is out earning.

Owner Op

See above

Paid miles vs Actual miles

Paid miles are as they sound – miles driven that earned revenue.  Actual miles are all the miles on the odometer.  Driving paid or not (home, to the shop, around the yard, etc)


Wooden structure that boxes of freight are stacked on so a forklift can easily load/unload boxes.  Not cheap but often stolen or lost.

Pallet Exchange (rate item)

The shipper may require the pallets they’re putting in the trailer (usually 24 4×4 squares) be exchanged or replaced at loading time.

Per Diem (rate item)

Tax exempt earnings, drivers may be allowed $xx per day or per mile that are exempt from payroll taxes because they are spent on legit expenses on the road.

Permits (rate item)

Trucks must have authority to operate in each state, this is usually part of the MC# or DOT# authority.  However, some special loads (oversized/hazmat) can have additional permit requirements you may want to pass the cost.

Pick (or pickup)

Paid stop where some or all freight is picked up.  DRD is multi stop so we do support several picks and drops per load.

Pickup Number glossary of trucking terms

A number sequence provided by the shipper used to ID and pickup the correct load from the shipping facility.

PO number

Purchase Order number, could be the same as PO number, not always

Pro Number – one of the most important terms in our glossary of trucking terms!

Load number.  Older term meaning Progressive Number.  In DRD the Pro is the unique numeric ID for your loads (no letters allowed).  The pro also doubles as the invoice number for each shipment.

Public Liability

Same as car insurance, it covers the public for any damages caused by carriers equipment


Facility where all or part of a load is delivered or unloaded


Slang for a refrigerated trailer

Reefer fuel

‘off road’ diesel fuel for refrigerated trailer, many times there is not tax at pump OR the carrier reports how many gallons per quarter are REEEER and gets a refund on fuel tax for those gallons

Reference number (or REF #, ref no., customer reference)

The shipper or customer’s number used to reference the load.  Often needed referenced on billing paperwork to get paid.  In DRD we call it just the reference number, ‘ref no’ or customer reference.

another example of how our glossary of trucking terms is Dr Dispatch specific!

RO (Maintenance Module)

Repair Order

Salesman Payroll

A commission based pay amount for person responsible for a company having said freight. This is usually tied to customers an employee brings to your business from their books.

Seal Number

Typically on high valued loads or multi mode- a seal that would be broken if the door is open to show tampering.  Typically numbered with an ID so you can tell if one was replaced with another.  This is the Seal number.


In DRD this is the shipping facility and ties to the pick(s) on a load.  This is often just the customer or one of the customer’s many facilities

Slip Sheet

Many boxes of freight can be put on a slip-sheet, has NO pallets, but slip-sheet machine can instead easily load/unload the freight


Any point noted on a load where the truck stops to do something.  This can be a Pick/Drop (paid loading/unloading point) OR the starting part of the Deadhead to the first Pick, A yard waypoint (non paid stop) or something else out of route.


Truck Management System – Software to operate your overall transportation company with a focus on over the road trucks.  Dr Dispatch is a TMS.

Tracking (A good example of how this Glossary of Trucking Terms is tied to Dr Dispatch TMS)

the process of tracking a loads progress day to day, hour by hour. this includes driver calling in to report location (check call) or GPS positions.  Our Tracking module was originally the “Check Call” screen where you would record the daily check in with the drivers.  Now GPS and other data can flow into this and build a real tracking experience.

Truck Load

Full load of freight from 1 customer.  Opposite of LTL where you have 1 trailer with multiple customer’s freight on it (UPS and FEDEX are the huge LTL examples)


A simple enclosed trailer with no reefer (refrigeration).  You wouldn’t load liquids, produce, or anything other than simple dry goods.


A special stop type in Dr Dispatch.  The name is taken from airplane navigation where a waypoint is a geographical point of interest.  In DRD it’s an unpaid stop like returning to the shop, yard, or something you want marked out or route on the load.  Most customers add their home base, yards, etc into here.  Especially useful for dropping a split.

Glossary of Trucking Terms – Find a problem or have feedback?

This glossary of trucking terms is Dr Dispatch TMS orientated

But we are open to adding more general terms in the future

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