Common Freight Hauling Terms and Definitions

Logistics has its own special jargon, just like any other industry. Whether you want to work in transportation or you just want to know a little more about the shipping process, it would be wise to learn about common freight hauling terms and definitions. The short dictionary below will give you the introduction you need to be better versed in freight hauling.

Dry Van

A dry van is the most common form of freight trailer in the industry. The freight is loaded into a semi-trailer that is 26-53 feet long. Then the dry van driver is responsible for getting whatever products are inside the trailer from one point to another.


A flatbed is a shipping trailer that has no roof and no sides on it. It is just like the name suggests, a flat bed used to haul large items like construction equipment, airplane parts, big art sculptures, and much more. Because flatbeds have no top to them, they are usually used to transport items that can withstand climate changes. They may also be used to haul items that cannot fit inside an enclosed trailer.

Refrigerated Freight Truck or Reefer

The term "reefer" is often used to describe refrigerated freight – items that have to be stored at a certain temperature during transport. Refrigerated trucks are mostly used in the food industry, but they may also be used to transport medication or chemicals that need to be stored at a specific temperature.

Bull Hauler

A bull hauler refers to trailers that are designed to transport live animals. They do not necessarily have to carry bulls. Different types of animals require different care during their transportation based on the distance they are traveling and how often they need to eat, walk, use the bathroom, etc.

Low Boy

A low boy, also known as a double drop deck, is a semi-trailer with a low-setting deck. This allows the driver to transport loads up to 12 feet tall, which you cannot do on other flat beds or trailers. Low boys are used to carry heavy equipment, like front-loaders, bulldozers, and tractors.

Less than Truckload (LTL)

LTL freight is any freight that does not fill up a trailer. Shipping companies try to avoid LTL loads because that means that they are not transporting at full capacity. In other words, if there is room on the truck, there will ultimately need to be more trips to transport the same amount of items. The logistics industry aims to get the most out of every run to save people money on shipping and transportation.

Back Haul

The back haul is the second half of a carrier's route. For instance, if a trucker picks up a load in Maryland and drives it to New Jersey, the trip from New Jersey back to Maryland would be the back haul. Shippers typically try to fill their vehicles up with some sort of return load in order to make use of their time and cut shipping costs for both parties.

Gross Vehicle Weight

The gross vehicle weight is the combined weight of a transport vehicle, trailer, and cargo. This is used to determine what class of driver can transport the shipment and what route the shipment is allowed to take. Each state has its own guidelines about how heavy or oversized loads are to be handled.

These are just some of the many freight hauling terms you may come across when working with a distribution center. If there is ever a term that you need more information about, feel free to ask the friendly team here at Overflo to explain it to you.

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