Truck and Accident Reconstruction Jargon

If you’re even reading this blog, you likely already know the lingo, but it never hurts to have a refresher. There are many other words and phrases that I could have added here, but I thought I would just make a quick list of some that come to mind.
Please add some acronyms, phrases and names without thinking much about it. Just go with the stream of consciousness and see how many you can add.


Anti-lock Braking System – separate autonomous systems are used on the tractor and semi trailer to limit wheel slip, prevent wheel lock, and assist the driver in maintaining control and stability of the vehicle

Bill of lading

In general, a document which specifies the content, weight and other aspects of the payload


Driving a tractor without the trailer

Cab over

Tractor with flat front end (no hood), as opposed to a conventional cab(with hood)


Commercial Driver’s License


Commercial Motor Vehicle

Computer Simulation

Engineering analysis performed by using a computer

Computer Animation

Graphical presentation of a computer simulation or other analysis


Ability to attract attention to itself. Conspicuity tape is reflective red and white tape installed on trucks


tractor pulling an empty trailer

Delta V

Change in speed of a vehicle during a collision

Fifth Wheel

Device on tractor in the shape of a horse shoe used to connect the trailer, via the king pin, to the tractor


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 49 CFR


Lightly Loaded Combination Weight – i.e., having zero payload (other than weight of instrumentation, driver, and test engineers)


Gross Combined Vehicle Weight – for tractors and semi-trailers, all axles are loaded to GAWR

Glad Hands

Connection between tractor and trailer for air lines


Device designed to limit the tractor engine maximum speed


Gross Vehicle Weight Rating


Horizontal bar in rear of trailer designed to minimize under ride


Amount of light falling on a surface, measured in foot candles

Inter modal

Multiple modes of transportation

Jake Brake

Slows the truck by acting on the engine directly and slowing the rpm.

King Pin

Pin at front of trailer used to connect the trailer to the tractor via the fifth wheel

Landing Gear

Legs used to set down the front of the trailer when it is unhooked from the tractor

Low Boy

Low flatbed type trailer used to carry oversized equipment


Amount of light reflected by a surface


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Method, using several photographs, used to measure features seen in the photographs


connection between tractor and trailer electrical lines


Preventive Maintenance


Refrigerated trailer


Refers to effect of impact on filaments in light bulbs when energized or not (hot or cold shock)

Slack Adjuster

Device used to keep brakes in adjustment


Set of 2 wheels

T Bone

Collision occurring between 2 vehicles at 90 degrees from each other

Under ride

Submarining action of a vehicle. This occurs when the vehicle under riding the other has a significantly lower bumper

Yard Mule

Vehicle used in yards to move trailers. These vehicles are illegal on public streets

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