ABS (Antilock Braking System): Computer, sensors and solenoid valves which together monitor wheel speed and modulate braking force if wheel lockup is sensed during braking. Helps the driver retain control of the vehicle during heavy braking on slippery roads.
AFFIDAVIT: A written statement made under oath.
AFV (Alternative Fueled Vehicle): Vehicle powered by a fuel other than gasoline or diesel. Air Ride Suspension: Suspension which supports the load on air-filled rubber bags rather than steel springs. Compressed air is supplied by the same engine-driven air compressor and reservoir tanks which provide air to the air brake system.
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR): Refers to the broad array of alternatives to trial for resolution of legal disputes. Includes mediation, arbitration, and settlement conferences.
ANSWER: A formal pleading which states the defendant’s response to plaintiff’s complaint.
APPEAL: A request by a party for a higher court to review a lower court’s decisions regarding questions of law.
ARBITRATION: Alternative to trial where parties agree to appoint an individual or panel to make a binding award or decision based on the evidence and testimony presented.
ATC (Automatic Traction Control): Usually an optional feature based on ABS, it prevents spinning of the drive wheels under power on slippery surfaces by braking individual wheels and/or reducing engine throttle. Also called ASR, an acronym sometimes loosely translated from the German as anti-spin regulation.
ATV (All Terrain Vehicle): Vehicle designed for any type of terrain. AVI (Automatic Vehicle Identification): System combining an on-board transponder with roadside receivers to automate identification of vehicles. Uses include electronic toll collection and stolen vehicle detection.
AVL (Automated Vehicle Location): Class of technologies designed to locate vehicles for fleet management purposes and for stolen vehicle recovery. Infrastructure can be land-based radio towers or satellites.
AXLE: Structural component to which wheels, brakes and suspension are attached.
BAD FAITH: Actions by an insurer designed to mislead an insured; refusal or negligence of insurer in fulfilling some duty or contractual obligation.
BBC: Distance from a truck’s front bumper to the back of its cab.
BENCH TRIAL: A case heard and decided by a judge without a jury.
BILL OF LADING: Itemized list of goods contained in a shipment.
BLIND SPOT: Areas around a commercial vehicle that are not visible to the driver either through the windshield, side windows or mirrors.
BOBTAIL: Tractor operating without a trailer. Also refers to straight truck.
BOGIE: Assembly of two or more axles, usually a pair in tandem.
BRAKE HORSEPOWER (bhp): Engine horsepower rating as determined by brake dynamometer testing.
BRIDGE FORMULA: A bridge protection formula used by federal and state governments to regulate the amount of weight that can be put on each of a vehicle’s axles, and how far apart the axles (or groups of axles) must be to legally carry a given weight.
BRIEF: A written document prepared by an attorney to serve as the basis for a legal argument. It includes a summary of legal points and precedent, together with arguments to be presented to the court deciding the case or a particular issue of the case.
BUSINESS RECORDS: Common type of documentary evidence. Business includes any association, profession, occupation, and calling of any kind, whether or not conducted for profit.
CABOVER (Cab-Over-Engine, COE): Truck or tractor design in which the cab sits over the engine on the chassis.
CARGO WEIGHT: Combined weight of all loads, gear and supplies on a vehicle.
CARTAGE COMPANY: Company that provides local (within a town, city or municipality) pick-up and delivery.
CAST SPOKE WHEEL: Wheel with five or six spokes originating from a center hub. The spoked portion, usually made of cast steel, is bolted to a multiple-piece steel rim.
CB (Citizens Band Radio): Two-way radio for which no license is required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Long beyond its heyday in the ’70s, CB is still used by truckers and motorists for everything from traffic condition reports to emergency calls to idle chatter.
CDL (Commercial Driver’s License): License which authorizes an individual to operate commercial motor vehicles and buses over 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. For operators of freight-hauling trucks, the maximum size which may be driven without a CDL is Class 6 (maximum 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight).
CE (CF, LP): Distance from back of a truck’s cab to the end of its frame.
CG (Center of Gravity): Weight center or balance point of an object, such as a truck body. Calculated to help determine optimum placement of truck bodies on chassis.
CHASIS WEIGHT (Curb Weight, Tare Weight): Weight of the empty truck, without occupants or load.
CIVIL LAW: Law developed by governmental groups including statutes, regulations and ordinances enacted by legislative bodies such as Congress, state legislatures, county and city officials. This is different than laws based on custom.
CLAIM: A demand for compensation.
CLAIMANT: A person who makes a claim or asserts a right. The plaintiff in a personal injury case may also be known as the claimant.
CLOSING ARGUMENT: The chronological and psychological conclusion of a trial. The last opportunity for the attorneys representing each party to communicate directly with the jury and/or judge about their theory of the case, explain contested facts, and argue why their side should prevail.
CNG: Compressed natural gas.
COFC (Container On Flat Car): Method of moving shipping containers which involves transporting them on railroad flat cars.
COMMON CARRIER: Freight transportation company which serves the general public. May be regular route service (over designated highways on a regular basis) or irregular route (between various points on an unscheduled basis).
COMMON LAW: Body of law developed over a long period of time which derives its authority solely from usage and custom.
COMPARATIVE FAULT: An affirmative defense available to the defendant. Reduction of the plaintiffs’ recovery in proportion to the percentage of negligence or fault attributed to the plaintiff.
COMPLAINT: A formal statement filed by the plaintiff with the court that sets forth his/her injuries and damages and why he/she believes the defendant is liable.
CONRACT CARRIER: Company that transports freight under contract with one or a limited number of shippers.
CONTAINER (Shipping Container): Standard-sized rectangular box used to transport freight by ship, rail and highway. International shipping containers are 20 or 40 feet long, conform to International Standards Organization (ISO) standards and are designed to fit in ships’ holds. Containers are transported on public roads atop a container chassis towed by a tractor. Domestic containers, up to 53 feet long and of lighter construction, are designed for rail and highway use only.
CONTAINER CHASSIS: Single-purpose semitrailer designed to carry a shipping container.
CONVERTER DOLLY (Dolly): Auxiliary axle assembly equipped with a fifth wheel (coupling device), towed by a semitrailer and supporting the front of, and towing, another semitrailer.
COUNTER CLAIM: The defendant sues the plaintiff for damages for which the defendant claims the plaintiff is legally liable or at fault.
COURT OF APPEALS: This court is established to review appeals from the trial court. It can affirm or overturn, in whole or in part, a trial court’s decision. A party has a legal right to appeal any final decision of a superior court to the Court of Appeals.
COURT RULES: The rules governing legal proceedings in all courts.
CROSS CLAIM: The defendant brings a claim against another defendant in the same lawsuit or identifies a new party not previously named by the plaintiff in the lawsuit, asserting that party is responsible for the plaintiffs ‘damages.
CROSS EXAMINATION: The questioning of a witness by the adverse party.
CUBE (Cubic Capacity): Interior volume of a truck body, semitrailer or trailer, measured in cubic feet.
DEAD-HEADING: Operating a truck without cargo.
DECREE: A judgment or order issued by a court.
DEFAMATION: Injury to a person’s character, fame, or reputation by false and malicious statements.
DEFAULT JUDGMENT: When a defendant fails to formally answer a plaintiffs’ complaint in a timely manner, the plaintiff may ask the court to enter a judgment against the defendant.
DEFENDANT: The party the plaintiff claims is responsible for his/her damages and from whom the plaintiff seeks some form of relief.
DEMAND LETTER: A letter expressly stating a legal right and an amount due as reasonable compensation for injuries to person and/or property.
DEMOUNTABLE RIM: Multi-piece steel wheel rim assembly which is bolted to a spoke hub. Demountable rims are still in use, though they have been replaced in many applications by the simpler disc wheel.
DEPOSITION: A form of discovery whereby the attorney calling for the deposition has the right to ask questions and obtain answers from a party, witness, or expert while that individual is under oath.
DIRECT EXAMINATION: The questioning of a witness by the attorney for the party on whose behalf the witness is called.
DIRECTED VERDICT: At the close of a plaintiffs’ case, a defendant asks the court to rule that the plaintiff has failed to put forth sufficient evidence, even when viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, to support his/her claim.
DISC WHEEL: Single-piece rim/wheel assembly of stamped and welded steel or forged aluminum, anchored by 8 or 10 nuts to a hub. A “Budd wheel” is a ten-hole, stud-piloted disc wheel; a design originated by the Budd Corporation.
DISCOVERY PROCESS: Procedure for examination of documentary and physical evidence, and questioning of witnesses and parties to uncover evidence which is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
DISPLACEMENT (Piston Displacement): Sum of the volumes swept by an engine’s pistons as they travel up and down in their cylinders. Based upon bore (diameter of cylinder) and stroke (distance traveled by piston). Expressed in liters or cubic inches.
DOCKET: A calendar or agenda of court proceedings prepared by the clerk of the court. For example, a trial docket is a list of cases set to be tried in a specified term.
DOUBLES (Twins, Twin Trailers): Combination of a tractor and two semitrailers connected in tandem by a converter dolly.
DRIVELINE: All the components which together transmit power from the transmission to the drive axle(s). These consist of at least one driveshaft (propeller shaft) with a universal joint at each end.
DRIVETRAIN (Powertrain): All the components, excluding engine, which transmit the engine’s power to the rear wheels: clutch, transmission, driveline and drive axle(s).
DRL (Daytime Running Lights): System that automatically turns on a vehicle’s low beam headlights when the parking brake is released and the ignition is on.
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange): The business-to-business interconnection of computers for the rapid exchange of a wide variety of documents, from bills of lading to build tickets at auto plants.
EV (Electric Vehicle): Vehicle powered by electric motor(s) rather than by an internal combustion engine. Most common source of electricity is chemical storage batteries.
EVIDENCE: Testimony, writings, material objects, etc. which are admissible and offered by a party to the trier of fact to prove the existence or non-existence of a fact.
EXEMPT CARRIER: Company which transports commodities exempted from Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) economic regulation.
EXPERT WITNESS: An individual who possesses specialized knowledge through skill, education, training, or experience beyond tha t of the ordinary person or juror, and whose knowledge will aid the trier of fact (jury, judge, arbitrator) in reaching a proper decision.
FEDERAL COURTS: Courts of the United States created by Article III of the Constitution or by Congress. Lawsuits filed in federal court include cases in which an agency of the federal government is named as a defendant or where the plaintiff and defendant reside in different states.
FIFTH WHEEL: Coupling device attached to a tractor or dolly which supports the front of a semitrailer and locks it to the tractor or dolly. The fifth wheel’s center is designed to accept a trailer’s kingpin, around which the trailer and tractor or dolly pivot in turns.
FIXED TANDEM: Assembly of two axles and suspension that is attached to the chassis in one place, and cannot be moved fore and aft.
FOR HIRE CARRIER: Company in the business of transporting freight belonging to others
GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating): Maximum weight an axle is rated to carry by the manufacturer. Includes both the weight of the axle and the portion of a vehicle’s weight carried by the axle.
GCW (Gross Combination Weight): Total weight of a loaded combination vehicle, such as a tractor-semitrailer or truck and full trailer(s).
GEAR RATIO: Number, usually expressed as a decimal fraction, representing how many turns of the input shaft cause exactly one revolution of the output shaft. Applies to transmissions, power takeoffs, power dividers and rear axles. Example: If 2.5 revolutions of an input shaft cause one revolution of the output shaft, the gear ratio is 2.5:1.
GEARED SPEED: Calculated vehicle speed at the engine’s governed rpm in each transmission gear, or (commonly) in top gear.
GENERAL DAMAGES: Money damages for pain and suffering, disability, or reduction in quality of life.
GRADE: Steepness of a grade, expressed as a percentage. Example: A vehicle climbing a 5% grade rises 5 feet for every 100 feet of forward travel.
GRADEABILITY: Vehicle’s ability to climb a grade at a given speed. Example: A truck with a gradeability of 5% at 60 mph can maintain 60 mph on a grade with a rise of 5%.
GUARDIAN AD LITEM: A guardian appointed by the court to represent the interests of a minor.
GUARDIAN: A person with the lawful power and duty to take care of a person and manage his/her property and/or rights.
GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight): Total weight of a vehicle and everything aboard, including its load.
GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): Total weight a vehicle is rated to carry by the manufacturer, including its own weight and the weight of its load.
HAZMAT: Hazardous materials, as classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Transport of hazardous materials is strictly regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
HEACHACHE RACK: Heavy protective barrier mounted behind the tractor’s cab. Designed to prevent “headaches” caused by load shifting forward from the trailer and crushing the cab.
HEARING: Proceedings at which a judge, arbitrator or administrative officer makes determinations of fact or law after argument by both parties. Administrative hearings may be investigative or result in a final order or determination of the matter. Ex Parte hearing is when only one party is present, although notice of the hearing may be given to the other party.
HEARSAY: Refers to statements made by persons other than the person testifying. The statement is a mere repetition of what the witness has heard others say out of court, and is offered as proof in the matter on which the witness is testifying. Generally, hearsay evidence is not admissible and is excluded from consideration by the trier of fact; however, there are numerous exceptions. One exception to the rule is statements made for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment, including description of medical history, past or present pain, sensations, etc.
HORSEPOWER (hp): Measure of power (the amount of work that can be done over a given amount of time). One horsepower is defined as 33,000 foot-pounds of work in one minute. Example: Lifting 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute, or lifting 3300 pounds ten feet in one minute.
HOURS OF SERVICE: U.S. Department of Transportation safety regulations which govern the hours of service of commercial vehicle drivers engaged in interstate trucking operations.
HUNG JURY: A jury which is unable to agree on a verdict after a suitable period of deliberation; sometimes referred to as a dead- locked jury. The result is a mistrial. IME: Insurer’s refer to this as an “independent medical examination.” Attorneys representing injured people refer to this as an “insurance medical examination.” An insurer may require the injured person to attend an IME under the provision of the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Policy or by a defendant after a lawsuit is filed in court. In either instant, the insurance company selects the doctor of their choice and pays for the examination.
IMPEACHMENT: A technique used during cross-examination to discredit a witness’s testimony.
INDEMNIFY: One party gives another party security for the reimbursement of payments required in case of an anticipated loss.
INJUNCTION: An order issued by the court prohibiting a person from or requiring him/her to perform some act.
INSURED: The person who purchases an insurance policy or is otherwise covered by the policy.
INSURER: The underwriter or insurance company with whom a contract of insurance is made.
INTERROGATORIES: A discovery device consisting of written questions submitted by one party to another party. Written answers to interrogatories are given under oath.
JACKKNIFE: To place the trailer at a very sharp angle to the tractor.
JIT (Just-In-Time): Manufacturing system which depends on frequent, small deliveries of parts and supplies to keep on-site inventory to a minimum.
JUDGMENT: A final order which puts an end to a lawsuit. The judgment states the final amount of any monetary award made to a party by a judge, jury or arbitrator, as well as which party must pay for it.
JUROR: A member of the jury.
JURY: A group of persons selected from the citizens of a particular district who are temporarily invested with the power to indict a person for a criminal offense or to decide a question of fact in a civil case and award damages. In personal injury cases, either party may ask for a jury trial. Depending on the court, a jury will consist of 6 or 12 people. With a six-person jury, five out of six jurors’ votes are needed for a verdict. With a twelve-person jury, ten jurors are needed for a verdict; twelve out of twelve are needed for a criminal conviction.
KINGPIN (axle): Pin around which a steer axle’s wheels pivot.
KINGPIN (trailer): Anchor pin at the center of a semitrailer’s upper coupler which is captured by the locking jaws of a tractor’s fifth wheel to attach the tractor to the semitrailer.
LANDING GEAR: Retracting legs which support the front of a semitrailer when it is not coupled to a tractor.
LAWSUIT: A claim or cause of action instituted or pending between private persons or entities in a court of law. In order to properly commence a lawsuit, a complaint must be filed with the court and the defendant must be served or given a copy of the summons and complaint.
LAY WITNESS: A person, with knowledge based on his/her first-hand observations, whose testimony is helpful to determine the facts at issue. Liability lay witnesses testify regarding the facts of the accident. Lay damage witnesses testify regarding the plaintiff injuries and the effects f those injuries on the plaintiffs’ lifestyle.
LCV (Long Combination Vehicle): In general, vehicles longer than a standard doubles rig (tractor and two 28-foot semitrailers). Examples of LCVs which are permitted in some U.S. western states and eastern toll roads: Twin 48-foot trailers; triple 28-foot trailers.
LEADING QUESTION: A question which suggests an answer with which the witness is asked to agree. Form of questioning used during cross-examination and generally not permitted during direct examination.
LESSEE: Company or individual which leases vehicles.
LESSOR: Company which leases vehicles.
LIABILITY: Responsibility or fault for an incident resulting in injuries and damages to person and/or property.
LIEN: An encumbrance on property to secure payment of a debt. A health care provider has a right to place a lien on a claim to guarantee that his/her bills will be paid when the case concludes.
LIFT AXLE: Extra, unpowered axle needed only when the vehicle is loaded, allowing it to meet federal and state vehicle weight standards. The lift axle is mounted to an air spring suspension that raises the axle when it is not required.
LIQUIDATED DAMAGES: The amount of money agreed upon by the parties to a contract that must be paid by one or the other in the event that contract is breached.
LITIGATION: The process of filing a lawsuit and then prosecuting it or defending against it. Discovery will begin after a lawsuit is filed.
LOAD RANGE (Tires): Letter code system for the weight carrying capacity of tires. Comparable ply ratings are shown below.
LOGBOOK: Book carried by truck drivers in which they record their hours of service and duty status for each 24-hour period. Required in interstate commercial trucking by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
LOWBOY: Open flat-bed trailer with a deck height very low to the ground, used to haul construction equipment or bulky or heavy loads. LPG: Liquid propane gas.
LTL (Less-Than-Truckload): A quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a truckload (TL) rate; usually less than 10,000 pounds.
LTL Carrier: Trucking company which consolidates less-than-truckload cargo for multiple destinations on one vehicle.
MALPRACTICE: Misconduct in a professional capacity through negligence, carelessness, lack of skill, or malicious intent.
MEDIATION: A procedure by which an impartial third person meets with all the parties and attempts, in an informal setting, to find common ground so that a compromise can be reached to settle the claim or complaint.
MINOR: A person who is under the age of legal competence. In most states, a person less than eighteen (18) years old.
MISTRIAL: Trial which is terminated before its normal conclusion. The judge may declare a mistrial because of some extraordinary event, prejudicial error that cannot be corrected, or because of a hung jury.
MITIGATE: To diminish or reduce. An injured party has the duty to mitigate his/her damages, including pain and suffering, by taking reasonable steps to get better.
MOTION IN LIMINE: A motion requesting the court to exc lude or limit certain types of documentary evidence and/or testimony which is not relevant to the issues or is unfairly prejudicial. Most commonly done prior to commencement of the trial.
MOTION: A formal written request submitted by a party to a court on a specific issue for consideration and resolution.
NEGLIGENCE PER SE: Negligent as a matter of law. In these instances a plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant’s actions or inaction fell below a reasonable standard of care -the mere violation of the statute is sufficient proof of negligence.
NEGLIGENCE: Failure to exercise ordinary care or caution.
OBJECTION: Used to call the court’s attention to improper evidence or procedure. Objections also serve to identify evidence or legal issues that may be taken up on appeal to a higher court.
OPENING ARGUMENT: The attorneys’ first opportunity to tell the jury or other trier of fact what the case is about, including what evidence will be revealed through the witnesses’ testimony and exhibits.
ORDER: A directive of a judge.
OVERDRIUVE: Gearing in which less than one revolution of a transmission’s input shaft causes one turn of the output shaft. The purpose of overdrive is to reduce engine rpm in high gear for better fuel economy. Example: A transmission with an overdrive top gear has a ratio of 0.70 to one. Turning the input shaft 0.7 revolutions causes 1.0 revolution of the output shaft.
OWNER OPERATOR: Trucker who owns and operates his own truck(s).
P AND D: Pickup and delivery.
PARTY: A person or entity that takes part in a legal proceeding or transaction.
PAYLOAD: Weight of the cargo being hauled.
PEDDLE RUN: Truck route with frequent delivery stops.
PERJURY: False or misleading testimony while under oath to tell the truth. It is a criminal offense.
PIGGYBACK: Semitrailer built with reinforcements to withstand transport by a railroad flatcar.
PIGTAIL: Cable used to transmit electrical power from the tractor to the trailer. So named because it is coiled like a pig’s tail.
PINTLE: Coupling device used in double trailer, triple trailer and truck-trailer combinations. It has a curved, fixed towing horn and an upper latch that opens to accept the drawbar eye of a trailer or dolly.
PLAINTIFF: The party who requests damages and initiates a civil lawsuit.
PLEADINGS: The formal, written documents filed by the parties with the court which set forth or elaborate on, their respective claims and defenses.
PLY RATING (PR): Relative measure of tire casing strength.
POWER OF ATTORNEY: A letter or document authorizing one person to act as an agent or attorney for another.
PREJUDICE OUTWEIGHS PROBATIVE VALUE: Rule of evidence which provides that releva nt evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger that it may confuse or mislead the jury, or unfairly prejudice the opposing party.
PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE: Degree of evidence necessary for a plaintiff to win in a civil case. Evidence which is of greater weight or more convincing than the evidence which is offered in opposition. On a scale of 1 to 100, fifty-one percent (51 %) or better
PRIVATE CARRIER: Business which operates trucks primarily for the purpose of transporting its own products and raw materials. The principle business activity of a private carrier is not transportation.
PRIVILEGE: Protection against disclosure of information based on communications made in confidence between parties having legally protected relationships. Based on the policy that it is better to have frank, open communications between parties in certain relationships by protecting these communications from disclosure in litigatio n. Pertains to communications between attorney/client, doctor/patient, priest/penitent, and husband/wife.
PRO SE: When a party does not retain an attorney and appears for and represents himself/herself in court.
PROTECTIVE ORDER: If an objection is made to a discovery request because it seeks information of a sensitive nature, is not relevant, or is harassing in nature, a motion is made for a protective order.
PROXIMATE CAUSE: Refers to a cause which leads directly, or in an unbroken sequence, to a particular result. It is an element of negligence.
PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch): In trucking, unit of measurement for tire air pressure, air brake system pressure and turbocharger boost.
PTO (Power Takeoff): Device used to transmit engine power to auxiliary equipment. A PTO often drives a hydraulic pump, which can power a dump body, concrete mixer or refuse packer. Some designs mount to a standard opening on the transmission, while others attach at the front or rear of the engine.
PULL TRAILER: Short, full trailer (supported by axles front and rear) with an extended tongue.
PUP TRAILER: Short semitrailer, usually between 26 and 32 feet long, with a single axle.
REASONABLE MEDICAL CERTAINTY: Standard for admission into evidence of opinions of a health care provider concerning his/her patient’s condition, diagnosis, or prognosis. A doctor’s opinion cannot be based on possibilities, but rather must be founded on probabilities. Reasonable medical certainty means “more probably than not.”
REEFER: Refrigerated trailer with insulated walls and a self-powered refrigeration unit. Most commonly used for transporting food.
RELAY (Relay Driving): Common practice in the less-than-truckload industry, in which one driver takes a truck for 8 to 10 hours, then turns the truck over to another driver, pony express style.
RELEASE: Waiver, relinquishment, or giving up a right, claim, or demand.
RELEVANT EVIDENCE: Evidence having a tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more or less probable than it would be without the evidence. Generally, only relevant evidence is admissible.
RETARDER: Device used to assist brakes in slowing the vehicle. The most common type of retarder on over-the-road trucks manipulates the engine’s valves to create engine drag. (This type is commonly referred to as “Jake Brake” because the predominant manufacturer is Jacobs Vehicle Equipment Co.) Other types of retarders include exhaust retarders, transmission-mounted hydraulic retarders and axle-mounted electromagnetic retarders.
RFG (Reformulated Gasoline): Gasoline blended with pollution reducing additives.
ROADRAILER: Semitrailer specially designed to travel both on highway and on rails. Manufactured by Wabash Corp.
ROLLING RADIUS: Tire dimension from center of the axle to the ground; measured with tire loaded to rated capacity. Used in calculating geared speed.
RPM (Revolutions Per Minute): Measure of the speed at which a shaft spins. Most often used to describe engine crankshaft speed. Indicated by a tachometer.
RULES OF EVIDENCE: Rules of law which determine which testimony, documents, etc. should be submitted for consideration by a judge or a jury, and the weight such evidence is to be given in determining a question of fact.
RUNAWAY TRUCK RAMP: Emergency area adjacent to a steep downgrade that a heavy truck can steer into after losing braking power. Usually two or three lanes wide and several hundred feet long, the ramp is a soft, gravel-filled pathway which absorbs the truck’s forward momentum, bringing it to a safe stop. Depending on the surrounding terrain, the ramp may be level or run up or down hill.
SEMITRAILER: Truck trailer supported at the rear by its own wheels and at the front by a fifth wheel mounted to a tractor or dolly.
SERVICE OF PROCESS: Refers to the rules of law prescribing the manner, and upon whom, a summons and complaint giving a defendant notice of a lawsuit, must be served. The person giving notice must be someone other than a party to the lawsuit, who is eighteen (18) years or older, and competent to be a witness.
SETBACK AXLE: Front steering axle moved rearward from the generally accepted standard position. Advantages: Shorter turning radius and more of a vehicle’s weight shifted to front axle.
SETTLEMENT: A final resolution of a claim by agreement between the parties.
SHIPPING WEIGHT: “Dry” weight of a truck including all standard equipment, but excluding fuel and coolant.
SINGLE SOURCE LEASING: Service in which companies can lease drivers and trucks from the same source, rather than having to procure them from different companies.
SLEEPER: Sleeping compartment mounted behind a truck cab, sometimes attached to the cab or even designed to be an integral part of it.
SLIDING FIFTH WHEEL: Fifth wheel mounted to a mechanism that allows it to be moved back and forth for the purpose of adjusting the distribution of weight on the tractor’s axles. Also provides the capability to vary vehicle combination lengths.
SLIDING TANDEM (Slider): Mechanism that allows a tandem axle suspension to be moved back and forth at the rear of a semitrailer, for the purpose of adjusting the distribution of weight between the axles and fifth wheel.
SPECIAL DAMAGES: Fixed costs or expenses attributable to any injury or loss, including past, present, and future income loss, treatment costs, and other out-of pocket expenses.
SPEEDABILITY: Top speed a vehicle can attain as determined by engine power, engine governed speed, gross weight, driveline efficiency, air resistance, grade and load.
SPREAD AXLE (Spread Tandem): Tandem axle assembly spaced further apart than the standard spacing of 54 inches. The U.S. federal bridge formula favors trailer axles with an eight or nine foot spread by allowing higher weight than on tandems with standard spacing.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: Laws enacted by every state which govern the time frame when a lawsuit must be filed, and beyond which the claim can no longer be made. Statutes of limitation differ from state to state and according to the nature of the claim.
STATUTE: Written law enacted by the legislature.
SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM: A written command requiring a witness to produce documentary or other tangible evidence he/she possesses or controls and which is relevant to matters at issue in the case.
SUBPOENA: A written command requiring a person to appear at a certain time and place to give testimony at a deposition or other proceeding.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT: A procedure by which one party seeks to persuade the court that there is no genuine issue or controversy regarding material facts, and accordingly, that the party filing the motion is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.
SUMMONS: Notice to all defendants that a lawsuit has been commenced, that they have been named as a defendant, and that they must answer the complaint within a specified number of days (commonly 20 days) or a default judgment may be taken against them.
SUV: Sport/utility vehicle.
SYNCHRONIZED TRANSMISSION: Transmission with built-in mechanisms to automatically “equalize” the speed of its gears to allow smooth shifting without the need to double-clutch.
TANDEM AXLE (Tandems): Pair of axles and associated suspension usually located close together.
TEAM (Driver Team): Team of two drivers who alternative driving and resting.
TESTIMONY: A formal statement, by a party or witness in a case under oath. Statement may be verbal or written.
TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit): Standardized unit for measuring container capacity on ships, railcars, etc.
TL (Truckload): The quantity of freight required to fill a trailer; usually more than 10,000 pounds.
TL Carrier: Trucking company which dedicates trailers to a single shipper’s cargo, as opposed to an LTL (Less Than Truckload) carrier which transports the consolidated cargo of several shippers and makes multiple deliveries.
TOFC (Trailer On Flatcar): Method of moving cargo which involves transporting semitrailers on railroad flat cars.
TORT: French word meaning “wrong”. Body of law which determines rights and liabilities when property is damaged or a person is injured, through negligent or intentional conduct.
TORTFEASOR: One who has committed a tort.
TRACTOR TRAILER: Tractor and semitrailer combination.
TRACTOR: Truck designed primarily to pull a semitrailer by means of a fifth wheel mounted over the rear axle(s). Sometimes called a truck tractor or highway tractor to differentiate from it from a farm tractor.
TRIAL DE NOVO: Means “new trial.”
TRIAL: judicial examination and determination of legal and factual issues between the parties to an action. Maybe civil or criminal. In a trial by jury the jury decides questions of fact with the judge determining the law to be applied. In a trial by judge, he/she decides both the facts and the law to be applied.
TRI-AXLE: Truck, tractor or trailer with three axles grouped together at the rear.
TRIDEM: Group of three axles on a truck, tractor or trailer. Tridems are most common on European semitrailers.
TRIER OF FACT: The decision maker who will hear the evidence and decide the outcome of a claim. Can be an arbitrator at a hearing, or a judge or jury at trial.
TRIP LEASING: Leasing a company’s vehicle to another transportation provider for a single trip.
TRIP RECORDER (On-Board Computer): Cab-mounted device which electronically or mechanically records data such as truck speed, engine rpm, idle time and other information useful to trucking management.
TRUCK: Vehicle which carries cargo in a body mounted to its chassis, rather than on a trailer towed by the vehicle.
ULEV: Ultra-low emissions vehicle.
UPPER COUPLER: Load bearing surface on the underside of the front of a semitrailer. It rests on the fifth wheel of a tractor or dolly and has a downward-protruding kingpin which is captured by the locking jaws of the fifth wheel.
VENUE: Relates to determination of which county a lawsuit should be filed in. In personal injury cases the plaintiff may sue the defendant in the county where the defendant resides, has his/her principal place of business, or where the accident took place.
VERDICT: The definitive answer given by the jury concerning the issues the judge asked them to resolve.
VIN (Vehicle Identification Number): Assigned by the manufacturer, this number is unique to each vehicle and appears on the vehicle’s registration and title.
VMRS (Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards): Set of codes developed to facilitate computerized tracking of parts and labor used in equipment repair. Established and maintained by the American Trucking Associations.
VOIR DIRE: Part of the jury selection process. A number of prospective jurors are selected and seated in the jury box. The judge and/or lawyers ask a series of questions to disclose any predisposition or biases that may impact their judgment. Generally, each party is entitled to three preemptory challenges by which prospective jurors can be removed without cause. If the judge so finds, jurors may also be removed for cause due to obvious bias or other reasons emonstrating an inability to serve.
WAIVER: A knowing, intelligent, and voluntary surrender of a known right or claim.
WALKING BEAM SUSPENSION: Type of truck and tractor rear suspension consisting of two beams, one at each side of the chassis, which pivot in the center and connect at the front to one axle of a tandem and at the rear to the other axle.
WIM (Weigh-In-Motion): Technology for determining a vehicle’s weight without requiring it to come to a complete stop.
WITNESS: Someone with knowledge pertaining to the facts of the case. Each party identifies his/her witnesses prior to trial or arbitration.
YARD JOCKEY: Person who operates a yard tractor.
YARD TRACTOR (Yard Mule): Special tractor used to move trailers around a terminal, warehouse, distribution center, etc.