You are currently viewing The Ultimate Guide To HGV Driving Jargon

A useful guide to HGV driving jargon, from A to Z terms. Read on to expand your HGV vocabulary!

So, you’ve recently finished your HGV training and qualified as a commercial lorry driver, and you are about to embark on your first assignment when they say to you in the yard ‘That’s all ambient you’ve got there, none of it’s bonded, find someone at the destination to help you unload, there’s a Moffett on the back’.

If you don’t want to admit to not fully understanding, don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

We’ve compiled a useful glossary of trucking terms so you don’t have to pretend you understand everything before asking someone to explain it to you!


Acquired Rights

Having ‘acquired rights’ means you do not have to take the CPC qualification for driving an HGV commercially. You qualify for ‘acquired rights’ if you got your vocational HGV licence before 10th September 2009.


ADR is French for “European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road”. You must have an ADR licence if you want to be able to transport hazardous materials on the roads.


When truck drivers refer to ‘ambient’ loads they mean goods that can be transported without any special temperature requirements, so can be transported at the surrounding temperature.


‘Artic’ is short for ‘Articulated Truck’ where the truck itself is separate from the trailer, and they are joined together in a manner where the trailer can pivot at a point at the back of the truck.

The connection between the truck (tractor) and the trailer has an airline between the two that facilitates hydraulic requirements, such as braking and an electrical connection.


Often if an HGV driver is working through an agency, or has started running loads from a new depot, they will need to take a driving assessment to show their competence to that site. This assessment may often be part of a wider induction (see ‘Induction’).



A car or van with a trailer. The size of the trailer can be any size if you passed your test before 19th January 2013, or a maximum of 3.500kg if you passed on or after that date.
Back load

When you bring another load back with you on your return journey.

Bonded Warehouse

A secure warehouse that is customs controlled for imported goods that can be stored or processed or further manufactured until the duty owed is paid.


A road safety charity that works to stop road deaths and injuries and supports people affected by road accidents.

A white HGV lorry parked at the warehouse



Cabotage is the transportation of goods between two places within the same country.

It originally applied to shipping along coastal routes within the same country but is more commonly applied to the movement of freight being transported by foreign registered vehicles.

There are rules about the number and type of journeys allowed under cabotage.

Cat C / Category C / Class C

A rigid body vehicle that weighs over 3,500 kg with a trailer of up to 750kg. Specific licence required.

Cat C+E / Category C+E / Class C+E

A category C vehicle connected to a separate trailer (E) via an airline that is over 750kg. Specific licence required.

Cat C1

Vehicles weighing between 3,500 and 7,500kg and a trailer up to 750kg. Specific licence required.

Cat C1+E

C1 category vehicles but with a trailer over 750kg. The fully loaded trailer must not weigh more than the vehicle itself. The combined weight of the trailer and vehicle must not exceed 12,000kg.

Chilled Distribution

The transporting of chilled goods, most often food, using temperature-controlled vehicles and facilities.

Class 1 Driver

A driver with a licence to drive a C+E category vehicle.

Class 2 Driver

A driver with a licence to drive a C category vehicle.


A shipment of goods to a person or company.


A metal, rigid and reusable cuboid box that is used for shipping goods. It has doors at the back for loading and unloading merchandise, which can be sealed so that goods are tamper-proof enroute.

Containers can be transferred easily between ships, trucks, and trains without having to unload and reload the goods inside.


Certificate of Professional Competence for HGV drivers. It must be passed before you can drive professionally and comprises of four parts: 1a – multiple choice test; 1b – hazard and perception test; 2 – case studies; 3 – practical driving test of driving ability.

CPC Periodic Training

Once you have passed your CPS, you need to retain it. This is done by attending 35 hours of vocational training every 5 years, also known as CPC periodic training.


A curtain side is a type of trailer that has a canvas-type curtain down each side that can be drawn back to facilitate loading and unloading of goods, often on pallets with the assistance of a forklift truck.



A distribution centre, warehouse, or fulfilment centre.

Digital Tachograph

A digital tachograph is a device that is fitted into a truck that records its distance and speed, along with information about various activities that a driver may engage in during their working day, selected from a mode switch.

The modes available to select are ‘driving’, ‘break and rest’, ‘other work’, and ‘period of availability.

Digital Tachograph Card

A digital tachograph card is a credit card-sized card that a commercial HGV driver must carry and is inserted into a digital tachograph while driving.

The card is where the data from the digital tachograph is written so and is, therefore, a personal record of driving and other activities for that driver.

A digital tachograph card can hold 28 days of data for that driver.

Draw Bar

The term ‘draw bar’ usually refers to an unpowered trailer with at least two axles – one at the front and one at the back of the trailer.

A metal bar is connected to a pivoting front axle, which turns in the direction that the trailer is being pulled, assisting steering. A draw bar trailer can be coupled to a tractor unit, or a rigid goods vehicle.

A Transporter lorry carrying a few cars on the trailer

Driver Shortage

The ‘Driver shortage’ refers to the well-known phenomenon in the UK, of HGV drivers becoming an aging demographic; with not enough younger people coming into the profession as the older workers retire.

This situation has been exacerbated by Brexit as tens of thousands of European drivers have returned home, pushing up the cost of transporting goods around the UK significantly.


The ‘Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’ is the UK government agency that deals with registering vehicle number plates, administering road tax, and issuing V5 documents in the UK.


The ‘Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’ is the agency that is formed by the merging of the VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) and the DSA (Driving Standards Agency) in 2014.

The DVSAs responsibilities include but are not limited to assessing people’s suitability to the driver (through the driving test), approving driving instructors and MOT testers, and making sure goods and passenger vehicles are safe to drive by means of roadside checks.


Empty running

Simply put a goods vehicle travelling with an empty load.


Estimated Time of Arrival


Speeding up transportation times.



With reference to goods vehicles, a flatbed is any vehicle with a flat area for carrying the load, usually with no sides or roof. They are often used to carry oversized items that could not fit into a container.


The abbreviation for ‘Forklift Truck’, is the machine used to transport palletised goods around a warehouse or loading on and off goods vehicles.


In the context of transport, a fridge is a refrigerated trailer.


The ‘Freight Transport Association’ is one of the main trade bodies for logistics and freight in the UK.



The abbreviation for ‘Goods In Transit’ – is when goods are loaded on a truck and enroute.



Haulage is the commercial transportation of goods.


A haulier is an individual or company paid for the transportation of goods by truck or van.

Heavy load

In logistics, a heavy load is a load that presents additional challenges in its transportation, usually due to its size, shape or weight.

Heavy loads may require special equipment to transport, such as purpose-made trailers, and may also require other supporting services such as an escort vehicle, convoy, or road closure.


A Heavy Goods Vehicle


A truck that has a small crane attached to assist with its loading and unloading.



Usually, with reference to working within logistics at a new site, induction is used to orient a new starter to health and safety and procedural site matters.



JAUPT is the ‘Jaunt Approvals Unit for Periodic Training’ – the body responsible for maintaining standards for periodic (CPC) training courses and centres.


‘Just In Time’ is a manufacturing approach and methodology that relies on components needed in the manufacturing process to be delivered just prior to being needed on the production line, keeping the need for on-site storage to a minimum.



There is some confusion about what LGV actually stands for, but it can refer to either ‘Large Goods Vehicle’ or ‘Light Goods Vehicle’, but for licensing purposes, it refers to one of four categories: Category C, Category C+E, Category C1 or Category C1+E.

The UK Driving Licence


Within transport and logistics, a license refers to the permit required to drive a vehicle.


‘Less than Truck Load’ – a load that doesn’t fill a whole trailer – is also known as ‘Part Load’.



A truck that has a small FLT (Fork-Lift Truck) attached to load and unload goods.

Multi Drop

As the name suggests, multi-drop is where the truck or van driver delivers to more than two locations. Routes are often carefully planned to maximise the number of deliveries or ‘drops’ that can be achieved.


Night Out

A night out is when an HGV driver prepares for the possibility that his journey may require him to park up for the night and sleep in his cab so that he gets the legally required rest that he needs.


O License

The licence required to be a commercial operator of transport vehicles.


A driver who owns their own truck or trucks which they use to carry out deliveries on behalf of other companies (their clients).



A small, constructed platform, usually made from wood but can be plastic, which goods for transportation are placed on to allow them to be transported between locations easily.

A pallet is designed to be picked up easily by Fork Lift Truck. Although there are pallets available in many different sizes, the most common size in the UK is 1200 x 1000mm.

Part load

A part load is a load that doesn’t fill a whole trailer – also known as ‘Less than Truck Load’ or LTL.


‘Passenger Carrying Vehicle’ is an older term meaning a vehicle that is used to carry passengers, for example, a minibus or coach. Usually referred to as a PSV now, or Public Service Vehicle.


A placard is any sign placed on a transport vehicle to indicate that it is carrying hazardous goods or chemicals.

Placards are diamond-shaped, and either spray painted onto a vehicle or placed in a placard frame.

All four sides of a trailer or container must display a hazardous materials placard.


POD stands for ‘Proof Of Delivery’, and is a document that the haulier or carrier needs to demand payment.


PSV or ‘Public Service Vehicle’ is the new term for a passenger-carrying vehicle that can accommodate 9 passengers or more.

To drive one commercially requires a PSV license. It is also required for smaller passenger-carrying vehicles that charge separate fares for their journeys.



RDC is an abbreviation for a ‘Regional Distribution Centre’.

Refer a Friend for HGV job

Refer a Friend

With the current HGV driver shortage, many companies and agencies offer a ‘Refer a Friend’ scheme to employees, offering a cash incentive to their drivers to recruit other drivers they may know into their company.


The ‘Road Haulage Association’ is another of the main trade associations within the haulage and logistics industry.


The term ‘Rigid’ refers to a Category C vehicle with a rigid body.

Road train

A road train is a tractor unit towing two trailers. They are not a common sight in the UK but have been touted as a possible solution to ease the driver shortage as they can carry far bigger loads.



Another term for a tractor/trailer combination.


Moving trailers on a short distance, for example around a logistics yard.


A driver who specialises in shunting. Although they only transport trailers a short distance, their role can be more organisational, and it is a very responsible role in the yard.



A device fitted to a truck to record speed, distance, and the type of work or rest being carried out.

Before Digital Tachographs were introduced, these devices recorded the information on a paper card, which traced a line recording the vehicle telemetry.

Tail Lift

A mechanical lift that is attached to the back of a vehicle to lift goods horizontally from the ground to the loading level of the vehicle, or to lower goods from this level to the ground.

Useful where the destination does not offer loading bay facilities. A tail lift is often incorporated into the door mechanism of the vehicle.


A tautliner is a curtain-sided trailer whose sides have a canvas-like curtain that can be drawn back to make it easier to load and unload items, frequently on pallets with a forklift truck’s help.

Temperature controlled

Goods that need to be transported at a particular temperature in a temperature-controlled trailer.

Tractor unit

The engine unit of a truck can be separated from the trailer unit it is attached to.

HGV driver standing next to his HGV truck

Tramping / Trampers

Tramping is making long-distance HGV deliveries that require sleeping overnight, sometimes for several nights at a time in the vehicle.

A tramper is a driver who specialises in this type of work. Some shorter routes may turn into an overnight stay in the vehicle if conditions dictate, and HGV drivers on these routes will pack an overnight bag in case. This is known as a ‘night out’.

Trunking / Trunker

Trunking refers to HGV deliveries that use regular routes usually main roads and motorways (trunk roads). A trunker is an HGV driver that drives these types of routes.

Trunking usually involves one or two deliveries that can be achieved during a fairly normal working day or night.


Wagon and Drag

Wagon and drag is a term used to describe a Category C vehicle towing another trailer with a combined weight of up to 44 tonnes.

A Category C+E license is required for this type of work, and the Category C vehicle is effectively the tractor unit with a separate trailer attached.


A location, usually a building, for receiving, storing, and distributing goods



A common term used to describe a hauliers site where loads are organised for receiving and dispatch.

We hope this guide to HGV jargon has been useful. Bookmark this page as a reference in case you come across a term in your early career that you are unfamiliar with. If you need to refer to any of these HGV glossaries, you can also download a PDF version of The Ultimate Guide To HGV Driving Jargon here.

For inquiry on our latest HGV driving opportunities, please contact Optimum Driving Group on 01908 018072 and our team is here to assist you.