Freight Hauling Terminology

Freight Hauling Terminology

Logistics is one of the worlds largest industries and there are many freight hauling terminology that come with such a presence.  For anyone in transportation, knowing these terms can be useful in conversations and every day business. 

The following is a list of commonly used freight hauling terminology 

There are many other terms that those listed here.  However, these terms are intended to help with a general understanding of freight hauling terminology.

Dry Van

Dry vans are the most common type of freight trailers hauled by commercial trucking companies. Van carriers move freight that is loaded into a semi trailer. Semi trailers are typically between 26 and 53 feet.

Reefer or Refrigerated Freight 

Reefer freight, short for refrigerated freight, is a method of transport used when the goods being shipped need to be kept refrigerated or frozen. The temperature of the shipping container cannot rise above a predefined limit in order to preserve the quality of the shipment.  Reefer freight is commonly used to transport food commodities such as produce, fruit, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy, but it can also be used to ship temperature sensitive goods like medication.

Flat Bed 

It has an entirely flat, level ‘bed’ body with no sides or roof. This allows for quick and easy loading of goods, and consequently they are used to transport heavy loads that are not delicate or vulnerable to precipitation. These can also haul oversize and other freight that is just not suitable for loading inside of a trailer. The loads needed to be secured more cautiously and sometimes covered with a tarp in inclement weather.

Double Drop Deck (aka Low Boy) 

A lowboy is a semi-trailer with two drops in deck height: one right after the goose-neck and one right before the wheels. This allows the deck to be extremely low compared with other trailers. It offers the ability to carry legal loads up to 12 ft (3.66 m) tall, which other trailers are not able to do. Lowboys are used to haul heavy equipment such as bulldozers, front-loaders, industrial equipment etc.


A tank truck is a motor vehicle designed specifically to haul liquids or gases on public roads using a cylinder-shaped, horizontal cargo bay. There are numerous types of tank trucks on the road, differentiated by their size, what substances they transport, and how much volume they can haul. The size of a tank truck can vary, but they tend to be large and many are classified as semi-trailer trucks. The largest tank trucks, usually reserved for long hauls, that transport materials long distances can carry up to 9,000 gallons (about 34,000 liters). Smaller versions, often used for in-town transport, may haul 2,900 gallons (about 11,000 liters).

Bull Hauler

These trailers designed for the transportation of live animals. There are a lot of special rules and regulations to hauling live animals.

Car hauler

Car haulers can be up to 75 feet in length and hold between six and 12 cars.  Some of the newer car haulers use approximately 23 valves, which activate almost 45 hydraulic cylinders or screws.

Container Hauler

These are the metal containers that can be seen going across the country on train cars. Mostly dry freight or equipment is loaded into containers and shipped long distances, including overseas on ocean vessels or on rail car.

LTL Freight

LTL stands for “less than truckload”.  This can mean any amount of freight that does not fill a trailer.

FTL Freight

FTL Freight stand for "Full truckload." With full truckload (FTL), shipments typically travel on only one truck with one destination, so delivery time estimates are often accurate and fast.

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