Common Trucking Industry Terms

Common Trucking Industry Terms

Whether you have freight to ship or are hauling freight for someone, it’s important to know some of the common trucking industry terms. However, it can be hard to keep track of them all. We’re here to help clear up any confusion around some of the most confusing but common trucking terms: deadhead, backhaul, and headhaul.

The Deadhead Dilemma


Deadhead refers to when a truck driver is returning with an empty trailer. Here’s the dilemma – a truck goes from point A to point B with a full truck load of cargo and unloads their cargo but the  return trip from point B to point A (backhaul) needs to have full cargo too in order to optimize every transit load and maximize capacity. Shipments to fulfill these lanes are tricky to find though. It’s a burden on a carrier that’s not good for business.

Deadhead poses monetary and practical dangers for carriers and drivers. Empty trailers cost money for owner-operators as it’s considered gas mileage that’s not bringing the biggest bang for their buck and doesn’t optimize their resources. Drivers are still paid in the event of deadhead but not as much as having a full truck of cargo.

Additionally, empty trailers endanger drivers. Trucks aren’t anchored by the weight of a load and become hazardous in bad weather. According to Freightwaves, “a truck deadheading is 2.5 times more likely to crash.” Deadheads can be perilous for anyone on the road.

Luckily, the answer to deadheading isn’t just beneficial to carriers, but to shippers as well. Carriers get creative with headhauls and backhauls to help curb the threat to capacity.

Backhaul to the Rescue


Backhauls are the loads that trucks take on return trips to the original point of origin. In other words, it’s the direct solution to deadheading. Backhauls offer safer transits and less wasted mileage. In addition, the backhaul doesn’t need to be on the direct lane back to the truck’s original shipping location to be considered a backhaul shipment. You can book a shipment on a truck’s initial outbound load for delivery on the return trip as a re-load or round-trip load and still get the cheaper backhaul rates carriers offer.

Since backhauls are necessary to carriers, they offer discounted rates to entice shippers to book them. And that’s where the demand from carriers can help meet your needs as a shipper. Backhaul options offer shippers unique opportunities to use the freight business to their advantage with cheaper lanes and solutions not known to the average shipper. As well as helping carriers meet their own needs by optimizing their fleets and truck space on the road.

Third-party logistics companies identify backhaul lanes and secure affordable prices in addition to already discounted rates you’d find when partnering with a 3PL.

Headhauls for the Win 


Headhauls are shipments that are closer relationally to the carrier themselves. It’s a win/win for everyone. Carriers use headhaul shipments to generate strong profits and for quick capacity fulfillments. Headhauls make it easier to acquire loads and develop relationships with long-term customers which fosters powerful business to be conducted between carriers, 3PLs and shippers.

And this brings peace of mind for shippers when finding shipping solutions with a trustworthy carrier and an easier time finding capacity for shipments. Everyone benefits when utilizing a headhaul shipment.

Trust the Pros


Carriers and shippers alike rely on 3PLs like FreightCenter to help identify backhauls and headhauls and fill capacity. Partnering with FreightCenter helps your supply chain easily find the most cost-effective lanes and carriers to move your cargo. With our powerful transportation management system, we simplify the search for the right shipping solutions to save you time and money.

Don’t go it alone. Trust the pros. Get a free quote today or call 800.716.7608 and see how FreightCenter can expedite your search for the right shipping lane.

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