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Trucking Industry Acronyms And Lingo

The trucking industry is keen to using acronyms and lingo to save precious time, but this isn’t always helpful unless everyone knows what the two-or-three letter acronym means. Don’t worry, Soshaul’s got you covered with the following list of common industry acronyms and terms. Feel free to refer to this list as needed to get familiar with some trucking terms.


10-4 is a common form of acknowledgment used by truck drivers and industry professionals that has carried over since radio origins. 10-4 essentially means “Message received” and indicates the communication was understood. In the days of radio, 10-4 was used as a quick response to limit distractions. This is still an appealing benefit today.

Accounts Payable (A/P)

The value of goods and services acquired for which payment has not yet been made. From your perspective, it is what you owe.

Accounts Receivable (A/R)

The value of goods shipped or services rendered to a customer on whom payment has not been received. Usually includes an allowance for bad debts. From your perspective, it is what is owed to you.

Advanced Shipment Notice (ASN)

An EDI term referring to a transaction set (ANSI 856) where the supplier sends out a notification to interested parties that a shipment is now outbound in the supply chain. This notification is a list transmitted to a customer or consignor designating items shipped. The ASN may also include the expected time of arrival.

American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI)

The ATRI is an organization that has been engaged in transportation studies since 1954. The mission of the organization is to emphasize the role of the trucking industry in a safe, efficient, and viable transportation system. ATRI’s research focus includes Congestion and Mobility; Economic Analysis; Safety and Security; Technology and Operations; Environment; and Transportation Infrastructure. ATRI currently manages the DOTs Freight Mobility Program.


The return movement of a transportation vehicle from its delivery point back to its point of origin. Many companies, often ones who haul their own product, take a load from their home location to a certain area of the country, then they need to go back to the original location to pick up another similar load. Instead of returning empty, they'll find another load (the "backhaul") going back to the original location.

Bill of Lading (BOL)

A Bill of Lading (BOL) is a paper document between a shipper and carrier acknowledging the receipt of goods for transport. Describes the nature of the cargo, amount of cargo by weight, size and/or number of pieces, and the origin and destination of cargo.

Broker-Carrier Agreement

A broker-carrier agreement is required in order to have a freight contract that will ensure a motor carrier hauls freight for the freight broker. A freight broker may negotiate a rate with a carrier before agreeing to freight contract terms and signing a Broker-Carrier Agreement.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

This refers to information systems that help sales and marketing functions as opposed to the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), which is for back-end integration.

First Come First Served (FCFS)

The shipping/receiving department has limited resources and has the trucks wait in the queue until they are able to be served. This option offers flexibility but can also cause trucks to have long wait times to be loaded.

Full Truckload (TL)

Enough products (which can be bulk/liquid) to fill a Full Truck Load (trailer). Also known as a dedicated truck.

Hours of Service (HOS)

The legal number of hours that a driver can drive in a day. For a detailed explanation, please refer to our Hours of Service breakdown.

Intermodal (IM)

Transporting freight by using two or more transportation modes such as by truck and rail or truck and oceangoing vessel. Units of measure may vary (e.g., lbs vs kilograms, miles vs kilometers).

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL)

When the quantity of freight is less than that required for the use of a full truckload (FTL). Often a carrier will place several LTL shipments on the same truck to reduce costs to the shipper.

Motor Carrier Number (MC#)

A Motor Carrier number (MC) is an operating authority administered to for-hire carriers by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA). This number is used to identify carriers.

Origin and Destination Pair (OD)

The place where a shipment begins its movement and the place where the shipment ends its movement.

Proof of Delivery (POD)

Signed documents (usually a Bill of Lading) that show a shipment was received at the delivery location.

Purchase Order (PO)

The purchaser's authorization is used to formalize a purchase transaction with a supplier. The physical form or electronic transaction a buyer uses when placing an order for merchandise.

Request for Information (RFI)

A document used to solicit information about vendors, products, and services prior to a formal RFQ/RFP process.

Request for Proposals (RFP)

A document that provides information concerning the needs and requirements of a manufacturer. This document is created to solicit proposals from potential suppliers. For example, a computer manufacturer may use an RFP to solicit proposals from suppliers of third-party logistics services.

Request for Quote (RFQ)

A document used to solicit vendor responses when a product has been selected and price quotations are needed from several vendors.

Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC)

A unique 2 to 4-letter code is assigned to transportation companies for identification purposes. SCAC codes are required for EDI and are printed on bills of lading and other transportation documents.

Individual or company that serves as a liaison between another individual or company that needs shipping services and an authorized motor carrier. Facilitates and arranges the necessary transportation, but does not function as a shipper or carrier.

Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC)

A specialized form of containerization in which motor and rail transport coordinate.

Transportation Management System (TMS)

A computer system designed to provide optimized transportation management in various modes along with associated activities, including managing shipping units, shipment scheduling through inbound, outbound, documentation management (especially when international shipping is involved), and third-party logistics management.

A charge that occurs when a load is canceled or load is rolled for a later date because it not being ready after a truck has been dispatched.

American Trucking Association (ATA)

The American Trucking Association is a national trade association for the trucking industry that aims to promote highway safety, security, environmental sustainability, and profitability. The ATA works with policymakers in government to make sure they are educated on the impact the trucking industry has. Learn more at their site.

U.S. Customs Border and Protection (CBP)

A law enforcement agency that regulates all shipped goods in the United States with lawful cargo inspections. The CBP will also collect import duties when necessary.

The CSA is the FMCSAs data driven safety, compliance, and enforcement program and holds carriers responsible for their role in safety. CSA affects motor carriers, including owner-operators, by identifying those with safety problems to prioritize them for interventions such as warning letters and investigations. CSA affects drivers because their safety performance and compliance impact their safety records. Learn more here.

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a license that is required to operate a Class 8 commercial vehicle. A CDL is required to operate various commercial motor vehicles (CMV) such as heavy trucks. Learn more here.

Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)

Refers to a vehicle used on a highway, in interstate commerce, that meets any one of the following criteria:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR), or gross vehicle weight (GVW) or gross combination weight (GCW) of 10,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater.

  • Is designed to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation.

  • Is designed to transport 16 or more people including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation.

  • Is transporting hazardous materials.

Collect/Cash on Delivery (COD)

COD specifies a collection method that is sometimes used in the industry. This method has a condition that requires payment of a specified amount, usually the price of the freight, to be given by the consignee to the driver at delivery.

Hundredweight (CWT)

CWT is an abbreviation for hundredweight. This is a standard unit of weight or mass used in certain commodities markets. CWT is also used to price smaller shipments of goods. In North America, a hundredweight is equal to 100 pounds.

Example: Let’s say an LTL shipment weighs 3450 lbs. The CWT of the shipment would be 34.5 (3450 / 100).

Distribution Centers (DC)

Distribution Centers or fulfillment centers are specialized warehouses that companies use to store finished goods and fill orders. DCs add value to shippers because they serve as strategic locations that aid in picking and packing, as well as moving goods to final destinations.

Department of Transportation (DOT)

The U.S. Department of Transportation is a government agency that is responsible for setting safety regulations for the country. The DOT can also plan and coordinate transportation projects throughout the U.S. Learn more here.

Driving a truck without cargo. Typically refers to the portion of a trip that a driver must take from the point of origin to the pickup location.

Electronic Logging Device (ELD)

An ELD is a tablet or similar system that is installed in the cab of a truck and is used to record operating data for that vehicle. Types of information recorded include Hours of service (HOS). Beginning in 2017 the FMCSA indicated that most CMVs will have to be equipped with an electric logging device.

Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT)

These mandates set minimum training requirements for entry-level drivers, which must be completed before taking certain commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills or knowledge tests.

The FMCSA serves as the lead federal government agency that is responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight for Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV). The FMCSA partners with industry, safety advocates, and state and local governments to keep our nation's roadways safe and improve CMV safety through regulation, education, enforcement, research, and technology.

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)

This refers to the total weight of the vehicle, including everything it’s carrying at one point in time. Cargo weight and passenger weight are considered with GVW and can alter the weight of the vehicle.

International Registration Plan (IRP)

The International Registration Plan (IRP) is a reciprocity agreement between different member jurisdictions in the US and Canada that allows for payments of apportionable fees based on the miles you travel in each jurisdiction. IRP is required for vehicles that travel across state lines and exceed 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight or have 3 or more axles. Learn more about IRP here.

International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)

The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) among U.S. States and Canadian Provinces was established to simplify the reporting of fuel use taxes by interstate carriers. Drivers join IFTA in their home state and as they drive to other states and purchase fuel, the tax on that fuel is credited to the driver’s account. At the end of each quarter, taxes on fuel are due (or refunded) and drivers are responsible for knowing the amount of fuel tax they are liable for. Learn more here.

Less-than-Container-Load (LCL)

Like less-than-truckload shipments, LCL refers to shipments that don’t require the use of a full container. LCL shipments, however, specifically pertain to moving freight on ocean containers.

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are hybrid entities that combine the characteristics of a corporation with those of a sole proprietorship or partnership. Limited Liability Company (LLC) business structures are flexible in allowing you to take advantage of both the corporation and partnership business structures. LLC businesses have limited lifespans in most states, but the LLC business structure is optimal for medium-to-high-risk businesses, or in cases where owners have great amounts of personal assets that they want to be protected.

Owning a trucking company entails owning or leasing one or more trucks and finding freight to haul. Owner Operators not only haul freight but are also responsible for the day-to-day operations that come with owning any business. 95.7% of all registered motor carriers operate with less than 10 trucks.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)

The OOIDA works to serve owner-operators, small fleets, and professional truckers by advocating for a business climate where truckers are treated equally and fairly and promoting highway safety and responsibility among all highway users. OOIDA promotes a better business climate and efficiency for all truck operators. Learn more here.

Over the Road (OTR)

Over the road (OTR) is a term applied to shipments that are being hauled over long distances by drivers. OTR drivers can spend weeks at a time on the road as they traverse through the U.S. and Canada.

Overage, Shortage, & Damage (OS&D)

OS&D is used to designate the condition of the shipment upon arrival. This is important because it helps businesses track material and determine if any fees are required.

  • Overage: There is a surplus of products compared to what was expected to be delivered.

  • Short: The shipment arrived with a lower number of products than what was expected.

  • Damage: The shipment arrived with visible damage either externally on the packaging or internally to the actual products.

Removable Gooseneck (RGN)

Removable Goosenecks, also knowns as an RGN, is another type of flatbed and has a front gooseneck that detaches and lowers to the ground, which allows freight, such as heavy equipment, to be driven onto the trailer. This type of trailer is used for heavier shipments depending on the number of axles on the trailer.


A document containing a description of goods that are part of a common carrier freight shipment. It shows the origin, destination, consignee/consignor, and the amount charged. Copies travel with goods and are retained by originating/delivering agents. Used by the carrier for internal record and control, especially during transit. Not a transportation contract. There are two major choices when it comes to starting your professional driving career – starting your own trucking business or working as a company driver. There are multiple ways to start your trucking business with different levels of investment, risk, pay, and support. It should be clear by now that it takes a definitive plan. If you feel drawn to the idea of starting your own trucking business, and if you feel you have the inner drive to drive, Soshaul can help! Please check out our free and for-purchase resources, templates, and in-depth courses available on our website.

Are you interested in learning more about topics such as IFTA or IRP, business plans or business structures, equipment or technology, or perhaps sales and marketing in transportation? Ready to START, DRIVE, & ACCELERATE your trucking business? Check out our course here!

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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC - Copyright 2023 - does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.


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