New York Truck Accident Glossary

Allowable Payload – The maximum amount of allowable cargo weight which can be carried by a truck and is determined by the truck’s design, legal limitations or component ratings.

Axle – Structural member to which the suspension, brakes and wheels are attached.

Blind Spot – Locations around a truck the driver cannot see.

Bobtail – A tractor in operation without an attached trailer.

Cargo Weight – The total combined weight of gear, loads and supplies on a truck.

Chassis Weight – The weight of an empty truck minus its load or occupants.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) – A driver’s license authorizing the operation of a commercial vehicle or bus in excess of 26,000 pounds.

Common Carrier – A freight company which provides general public service through either regularly scheduled designated highway use or various unscheduled routes.

Container – A standardized rectangular freight box designed to carry freight by rail, ship and highway. A container can be mounted on a container chassis and transported over public roads by a tractor.

Container Chassis – A semi-trailer specifically manufactured to haul a container.

Converter Dolly – A secondary axle assembly designed to support and tow another semi-trailer by utilizing a fifth wheel coupler, can be used in tandem trailer or double trailer trucks.

Dead-Heading – A truck in operation without carrying cargo.

Driveline – All of the power transmission components, including the transmission, drive shafts, universal joints and drive axles.

Drivetrain – All of the power transmission components, not including the engine, which transfers engine power to the drive wheels.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) – The operation of a vehicle following the excessive consumption of alcohol elevating the blood alcohol level above the legal limit.

Fifth Wheel – A coupling device affixed to a dolly or tractor which supports and locks a semi-trailer to a dolly or tractor.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) – The maximum rated weight an axle can carry according to the manufacturer. It includes the axle weight and the weight of the section of the vehicle the axle carries.

Gross Combination Weight (GCW) – The total loaded weight of a combination vehicle, including the tractor and semi-trailer.

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) – The total vehicle weight, including gear, load and supplies.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) – The maximum rated weight a vehicle can carry according to the manufacturer, which includes the weight of the vehicle, gear, load and supplies.

Hazardous Cargo – A material or substance which poses a threat to the safety and health of people and property during transportation.

Hazmat – Hazardous materials as documented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Department of Transportation employs strict regulations for the transportation of hazardous materials.

Head Injury – Any trauma to the head and may or may include brain injury. A head injury is often experienced in a truck accident.

Hit and Run – An accident in which a person exits the scene before the authorities arrive.

Hours Driving – The elapsed time, in hours, from the moment a driver began driving until a truck accident occurred.

Hours-Of-Service – Safety regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation governing the number of hours a commercial driver can perform interstate trucking operations.

Jackknife – An occurrence in which a truck and trailer slid and create a sharp angle to one another. A jackknife can be a very dangerous and common type of truck accident.

Lessee – An individual or company that leases vehicles from a company.

Lessor – A company that leases vehicles to an individual or company.

Logbook – A journal mandatory by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation for the documentation of the driver’s duty status and hours of service for every 24-hour time period. Often used to prove employer liability.

Lowboy – A low, open flat-bed trailer designed to haul heavy loads or construction equipment.

Overload – A commercial vehicle carrying overweight cargo. An overload can lead to brake failure or hinder steering ability.

Override – A truck accident in which a truck drives up and over a smaller vehicle traveling in front of it.

Owner-Operator – A truck driver who operates and owns his truck.

Payload – The weight of the loaded cargo.

Private Carrier – A freight transportation company which primarily transports its own raw materials and products.

Reefer – A refrigerated semi-trailer with a self-contained refrigeration unit and insulated walls. Reefers are typically designed for food transportation.

Retarder – A device designed to add drag and aid the brake system with slowing the vehicle. An engine retarder, known as a Jake Brake, is the most common retarder type.

Roadway Surface Condition – The road conditions at the moment a truck accident occurs, such as wet, dry or icy.

Rollover – An accident in which a truck rolls onto its side or roof. Common causes of a rollover are weight imbalance, excessive speed while turning or a jackknife.

Semi-trailer – A trailer supported by its rear wheels and a fifth wheel affixed to a dolly or tractor.

Shipping Weight – The dry total weight of a commercial truck and standard equipment, without fuel and coolant.

Spinal Injury – Any injury to the spinal column or components of the spinal column, spinal cord or nerves extending from the spinal cord. A spinal injury is very common as a result of the extreme forces encountered in a truck accident.

Tractor – A truck designed to transport a semi-trailer connected by a fifth wheel.

Tractor Trailer – A combined semi-trailer and tractor.

Traumatic Brain Injury – Any injury to the brain resulting from an external traumatic force. Due to the size and weight of a commercial vehicle, the destruction which occurs during a truck accident often leads to severe consequences, such as a traumatic brain injury.

Trip Recorder – A cab-mounted computer which records truck speed, idle time, engine rpm, along with other trucking management information.

Truck – A vehicle with a body and chassis designed to carry cargo instead of a towed cargo trailer.

Twin Trailer – The combination of two semi-trailers utilizing a converter dolly and a tractor.

Underride – A truck accident where a smaller vehicle drives underneath a semi-trailer.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) – An identification number designated by the manufacturer which is unique to each vehicle.

Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards (VMRS) – A set of identification codes designed by the American Trucking Associations to aid in the computerized tracking of labor and parts utilized in equipment repair.

Wrongful Death – A claim against someone who is responsible for the death of another person.

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