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When you join the trucking industry, abbreviations just become an essential part of your life.

The first thing you probably already know about common truck driver abbreviations is that CDL stands for commercial driver’s license. This is probably the most important and most common abbreviation used in the industry. Another common abbreviation is ELDT which stands for Entry Level Driver Training.


DOT stands for Department of Transportation. The DOT was established by Congress in 1966 and its first official year of operation was in 1967. The DOT was created in order to help maintain and establish the nation’s transportation system.


FMCSA stands for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA is the leading organization that provides safety oversight for Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs).


FHWA is the Federal Highway Administration. They are an agency within the DOT and they support state and local governments in maintaining and sustaining the National highway system. Like the DOT, they were also founded in 1966, though they had several predecessors that had similar goals to them.


GVW is Gross Vehicle Weight which is the average weight of the unloaded vehicle and the weight of the load the vehicle is carrying. Your GVW will be taken into consideration at weigh stations. It’s important that your truck not be overweight because some roads and highways can’t handle that.


OTR stands for over the road. There are three main types of truck drivers. OTR, Regional and local. OTR is the most common job new drivers take as it helps them gain experience quickly. OTR drivers get paid great money and travel all over the country. Regional drivers drive throughout the week but are typically home on weekends. Instead of going all across the country, they stay within their region and are likely to make deliveries to the same customer repeatedly. Local drivers operate within a 100-mile radius.

Besides the serious technical terms, there are a lot of fun truck driver abbreviations that are used on the road every day.  These terms and abbreviations are typically used over CB radio to help truckers communicate with each other easily and efficiently while on the road.


Alligator is a piece or multiple pieces of old tire in the road. If you’ve driven over, these seemingly safe tire pieces can really damage your truck. They can damage hoses, belts, and more. Alligator is named as such because if positioned in the right way, it can look like an alligator is laying in the road.


A bear is typically a police officer on the road. However, a police officer may also be called Smokey. If you hear the term “bear trap” that means that police are near looking to catch speeders. In any case, if you ever hear “bear”, know that police are around.