Driver Resources

Van and Flatbed Axle Weight Guide

Weight Limit Laws:
  • Weight limits and bridge laws for each state are in your atlas.
  • The state of California is very strict on weight and their length law of 40′ from 5th wheel to center of rear trailer axle.
The trailer tandems can be slid forward or backward depending on which way the weight needs to be distributed.
  • To distribute weight back on the trailer tandems, move trailer tandems forward.
  • To move weight ahead on the drive tires, adjust trailer tandems back.
  • As a guideline, use 250 lbs per hole when calculating the initial adjustment and go from there.
The trucks’ fifth wheel can also be adjusted forward or backward depending on which way the weight needs to be distributed.
  • If over on the steers, slide the fifth-wheel back.
  • If over on the drives, and you cannot put any weight on the trailer tandems, slide the fifth-wheel forward.

Pre-Trip Inspections

  • You are responsible for conducting thorough pre-trip inspections at the beginning of each run and post-trip inspections at the end of each run.
  • Pre-trip inspections help identify potential safety problems so that they can be corrected before they cause a breakdown.
  • Post-trip inspections help identify any problems so they can be corrected before the truck is needed again.
  • The key to thorough vehicle inspections is doing the same way every time.
  • If an air brake test shows that the truck is losing more than 2 PSI of air pressure per minute, then it may be unsafe to operate.
  • Air brakes include three different braking systems: the service, parking brake and emergency braking systems.
  • There are two tests to check the air leakage rate: one without the brakes applied (Static) and one with the brakes applied (Applied).
  • There are two tests to check the parking brake: one to make sure the parking brakes are correctly adjusted and will hold, and a second test ensures the parking brakes will apply automatically if air pressure is lost.

The truck inspection ensures that all safety-related parts and accessories are in good working order, the truck is mechanically reliable, emergency equipment is in place and ready to use and the driver area is clean and comfortable.

Driver performs a complete and efficient inspection in the correct order. Driver walks around the truck and checks that the inspection sticker and license plates are current. Driver checks the interior of the truck for operability of seats and seat belts. Driver checks that the windows are clean and unbroken and emergency equipment is in place. Driver does not idle the engine.

Driver checks the fuel, adjusts seat and then mirrors and performs system and equipment checks. Driver checks all external compartments and equipment, tires, wheels, engine, lights, reflectors and horn. Returns to driver position and completes remaining system and equipment checks, including brake tests, gauges and fluid levels and steering mechanism. Driver checks belts, hoses and electrical cables; including the battery. Driver checks coupling devices and safety chains.

Driver follows J. Rayl policy if the truck does not meet the standards for safety, reliability, cleanliness and comfort. Note: a truck must not be driven unless free of safety defects.

Driving Tips

5 Keys to Backing
  • Look, Think and Plan Ahead
  • Remain Aware of Blind Areas
  • Check Front, Sides and Rear
  • Back no further then you must
  • Back slowly and seek eye contact
Accidents happen for three reasons:
  • Failure to pay attention
  • Exceeding performance capabilities
  • Engaging in Patterns of Unsafe Behavior (PUBs)
Reversing the Trend
  • Most drivers back much less than 1% of their driving miles
  • Backing creates unique disadvantages
  • It takes approximately 76 feet of space behind the trailer before a vehicle is visible
  • Analyze problems when you arrive
  • “When In Doubt, Check It Out”
  • Let your eyes scan actively so nothing goes unnoticed
  • Back slowly (approximately 1 MPH)
  • Manage your space
Intersections – Among the Most Dangerous Places On Earth
Lane changing is a voluntary act. Do not change lanes unless you really have to.
  • The less time and information people have to make decisions, the more likely they are to make a mistake.
  • Active eyes are your best source of information as you approach an intersection.
  • Leave 25ft between the vehicle in front of you or the intersection line.
  • Most major intersection collision occurs in the first few seconds following a light change.
  • Never assume it’s clear to cross an intersection – always “Get the Big Picture” and then proceed only when you’re sure it’s safe.
  • A controlled intersection is one where the right-of-way is determined by traffic signals or traffic signs, unlike uncontrolled intersections that do not provide signals or signs to indicate who has the right-of-way.
  • Four-way, two-way and one-way stops have specific laws regarding who gets to go first, but other drivers don’t always follow the rules.
  • If two vehicles arrive at the same time at a four-way stop, the vehicle on the left should yield right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.
  • To avoid collisions, always yield the right-of-way at intersections.
  • If two vehicles arrive at a two-way stop in opposing directions, the vehicle turning left should yield right-of-way to approaching traffic going straight or turning left.
  • When two vehicles arrive at an uncontrolled intersection, the vehicle on the left should yield to the vehicle on its right.
  • When the intersection is clear, look left, right, straight ahead and left again AND only when the intersection is clear, proceed with caution.
  • Assume a stale green light will turn yellow/red before you get to it.
  • For professional drivers, yellow means stop.
  • Off-tracking occurs when the rear wheels track inside the path of the front wheels.
S.M.O.G. Technique



Over Shoulder

Get Over

Entrance Ramps
  • Note the position and speed of the vehicles traveling on the highway as you enter the ramp. (Be aware of the vehicles in front of you on the ramp. They may slow down or stop, even when they shouldn’t).
  • Pay special attention to the outside lane into which you are merging.
  • Look at the inside passing lanes for traffic which may prevent the vehicles in the outside lane from moving over.
  • Signal your attention to merge as soon as you enter the ramp.
  • Adjust your speed to the flow of traffic.
  • As you merge into the opening, yield to traffic on the highway.
  • Keep your eyes open and your head moving.
  • Always merge into the far, outside lane.
  • Use the acceleration lane to build up speed on the ramp.
  • Use as much of the ramp as possible to get up to speed with traffic flow.
  • Once your merge is complete, establish a five-second following distance and adjust your speed to match the flow of traffic.
Exit Ramps
  • If possible, be familiar with your route and know where you’re going to get off the highway so you can avoid split second maneuvers.
  • Communicate to other motorists your intent to exit by using your turn signal.
  • Always signal at least three flashes before making any lane change.
  • Enter the deceleration lane as soon as possible (early). Never make a last second turn into the deceleration lane or exit ramp.
  • Gradually decelerate until you have reached the posted ramp speed.
Merging Hazards:
  • Two vehicles merging into the same space.
  • Vehicles merging without signaling.
  • Sudden lane closures or obstructions.
  • Slow-moving vehicles merging with trucks traveling at high speeds.
  • Drivers unwilling to yield.
  • Sudden stops by other vehicles.
Collision Avoidance Tips:
  • Aim high around turns to avoid sudden surprises
  • Choose the legal lane with the best visibility and the fewest potential problems
  • Use your lane selection to help you establish the best possible visibility
  • Pace your vehicle to avoid unnecessary stops, this will save fuel and maintenance expenses
  • When stopped at a traffic signal, allow the vehicle in front of you to accelerate for a few seconds before following
  • Use your vehicle to protect the space on your right when turning right
  • Maintain at least 5 seconds of following distance when conditions are good
  • Project your eyes as far ahead of your vehicle as conditions permit
  • Watch for small clues in what others do to help you forecast their future actions
  • Check one of your mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds to help you remain aware of changes in your space cushion
  • Lower your horn if you think there is a chance you might need to communicate with others
  • In a large truck, add several additional seconds of following distance to allow for diminished maneuverability and greater stopping distance
  • Before committing your vehicle to an intersection, scan in all directions for the unexpected
  • When possible, adjust your position in traffic to prevent high-profile vehicles from blocking your visibility
  • Let the “packing” tendency of others help you expand the space around your vehicle
  • Use your Eye-Lead-Time to make your driving smoother, more economical and less stressful
  • Anticipate and allow for merging activity as early as possible
  • Use your Eye-Lead-Time to allow for developing problems and to help you compensate for the probable actions of others
  • Use the Eye-Lead-Time of drivers ahead of you to help you anticipate and cope with future problems
  • Good driving begins with good seeing. Good eye activity promotes good driving decisions
Following Distance: Resolving the Debate
  • Maintaining proper following distance greatly reduces your chance of an accident
  • The most important space around your truck is in front of you
  • You cannot control the other drivers, but you control the space in front of your truck
  • Adequate following distance gives you time to compensate for the mistakes of other drivers and the distance to safely stop your truck
  • Heavy fog, dust or smoke can quickly reduce your ability to see
  • Calculate following distance by looking ahead to find fixed reference point: then, when the vehicle in front passes that object, count off five seconds (1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005) – you should reach the object at or after five seconds.
  • If you reach the object in less than five seconds, you’re following too closely and you should slow down and increase your following distance
  • Sight distance is how far you can see in front, and to the sides and rear of your truck. When it is limited in any way, slow down and increase your following distance
The Keys to Foul Weather Driving
  • Good, well disciplined eye activity, will help you obtain early access to important information about which you will need to make good decisions
  • Brake early to encourage the people behind you to brake early
  • Reduced speed increases your Eye-Lead-Time and your ability to remain in control
  • In good weather, we recommend a following distance of 5 seconds
  • If it rains or snows, add at least an additional couple of seconds to following distance
  • Good following distance allows you to make relaxed, well thought out decisions
  • There are times when driving is a risk that should not be taken
  • In vehicle distractions can radically reduce eye activity
Injury Prevention
  • Slips, trips and falls involve three laws of science: friction, momentum and gravity.
  • Friction is the resistance between things, like your shoes and the surface you are walking on.
  • Momentum is affected by speed and the size of the moving object.
  • Slips are a loss of balance caused by too little friction between your feet and the surface you walk or work on.
  • Slips can be caused by loss of traction on wet surfaces like spills, or weather-related slick surfaces, such as ice and snow.
  • Trips happen when your foot hits an object and you are moving with enough momentum to be thrown off balance.
  • Falls happen when you move too far off your center of balance.
  • Always use a three-point contact to get in and out of the truck. Face the truck, and keep three of your limbs touching the truck at all times – either two hands and one foot, or both feet and one hand.
  • Back injuries are the most common of all disabling work injuries.
  • Your back is a load-bearing structure. It’s a collection of bones, discs and ligaments designed to support the weight of your head and torso in an upright manner.
  • Your back is NOT a lifting device. Your lifting devices are your legs and arms.
  • Stress and tension can build up in the hands, arms, shoulders and neck while driving, steering, shifting and maneuvering.
  • Proper posture can help reduce your risk of a back injury.
  • To avoid pain and stay fit, it is important to maintain a balanced diet, stretch, and exercise.


ABS (Antilock Brake System):
Computer, sensors and solenoid valves that together, monitor wheel speed and modulate braking force if wheel lockup is sensed during braking. Helps the driver retain control of the vehicle during heavy braking on slippery roads.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFV):
A vehicle that runs on a fuel other than traditional petroleum fuels (petrol or diesel fuel).

Supporting shaft or member upon which a wheel or wheels revolve.

Axle Load:
1) Weight existing on a motor vehicle’s axle. 2) A maximum allowable axle weight limit on a roadway or highway.

Axle Rating:
The amount of carrying capacity as indicated by the axle manufacturer.

A load that returns a vehicle to the driver and/or carrier’s home base.

Bill of Lading:
Principal transportation document describing the contents of a shipment and setting forth a contract of carriage, by which a carrier acknowledges receipt of freight. Terms and conditions, responsibilities and liabilities vary with manner and place of use. Bills of lading may be negotiable or non-negotiable.

1) Device used to apply tension to chains used to secure a load. 2) Slang term for brakes.

Blocking, Blocks or Bracing:
Pieces of wood or other material used to prevent movement of load in rail, vessel or truck shipments.

Slang term for a tractor driven without its trailer.

Brake Chamber:
Air chamber mounted near each wheel and connected to the brake itself by a push rod and slack adjuster (cam brake) or a push rod (wedge brake).

Brake Drum:
Metal, drum-shaped compartment that revolves with the wheel. When the brakes are applied the brake shoes press against the brake drum to slow and/or stop the vehicle.

Brake Lining:
Strong friction material (asbestos, fine copper wire, cotton, etc.) fastened to the brake shoe that contacts the brake drum during the braking process.

Breakaway Valve:
Valve positioned between the tractor and trailer; automatically cuts off air going to trailers if pressure drops below 60 pounds, causing trailer brakes to activate.

Bridge Formula:
A bridge protection formula used by federal and state governments to regulate the amount of weight that can be put on each of a vehicles axles, and how far apart the axles must be to legally be able to carry a certain weight.

A person or company that arranges for the truck transportation of cargo belonging to others, using for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation.

Bulk Freight (Bulk Cargo):
Freight that is not in packages or containers; normally hauled in tankers, grain trailers, and sometimes in regular van trailers.

see Sleeper

Driver compartment of a truck or tractor.

Cab Card:
Registration document issued by a base jurisdiction for a vehicle in an apportioned/prorated fleet which identifies vehicle, base plate, registered weight by jurisdiction; also shows jurisdiction where vehicle is registered.

Short for cab-over-engine, designed so that the cab sits over the engine on the chassis.

Long, straight shaft covered with elliptical knobs called cams; as the camshaft turns, cams push the push rods and open the cylinder valves.

The freight carried by a vehicle.

Cargo Manifest:
Document listing all consignments on a truck, vessel or aircraft and giving quantity, identifying marks, consignor/consignee of each item.

Cargo Weight:
Combined weight of all loads, gear and supplies on a vehicle.

Cartage Company:
A motor carrier that provides local pickup and delivery.

CDL (Commercial Driver’s License):
License which authorizes an individual to operate commercial motor vehicles with GVWR over 26,000 pounds, buses designed to carry 16 or more passengers including the driver, and/or for the transportation of hazardous materials in an amount requiring placarding.

Certificate of Insurance:
A document certifying that one has met specified requirements. Issued by an offer of an insurance company to a state agency or other party, stating the fact that the party named has insurance coverage in amounts/types named; not a binding agreement.

Certificate of Origin:
Indicates country producing goods listed on it, required by customs officials; used to secure “most favored

Block or stop barriers placed behind/in front of wheels to keep vehicle from rolling. Also used on loads to prevent shifting.

Clearance Lights:
The lights on top of the front and rear of the trailer; often referred to as the marker lights.

Any article of commerce goods shipped.

Common Carrier:
Any carrier engaged in the interstate transportation of persons or property on a regular schedule and whose services are available to the general public on a for-hire basis.

Company Driver:
Employee of a carrier who is assigned to drive company-owned trucks.

The receiver, who accepts your delivery.

The person or entity transferring legal responsibility or ownership of the cargo (or consignment) to the carrier.

A shipping container is a standard sized metal box sued to transport freight. International shipping containers are 20 to 40 feet long, and have to conform to International Standards Organization (ISO) standards.

Container Chassis:
A type of trailer specifically designed to carry a shipping container.

Contract Carrier:
A for-hire carrier contracted to one particular shipper.

CSA is FMCSA’s safety compliance and enforcement program that provides motor carriers safety and performance data.

Day Cab:
A tractor that has no sleeper berth.

Driving a tractor-trailer without cargo, or without paying load.

Time spent waiting at a customer’s facility.

Drop and Hook:
Taking a loaded trailer to a shipper/receiver, dropping the trailer and then hooking up to, and leaving with, another loaded trailer.

Dry Freight:
Freight that’s not refrigerated.

Dry Van:
A van that doesn’t have a reefer.

Term that refers to materials such as cardboard, pallets, plywood, foam rubber, air bags, etc. and used for protecting freight while it is enroute.

Daily Vehicle Inspection Report.

Electronic on-board recorder (EOBR):
A device hooked into the truck that transmits useful management information such as truck location, speed, and idle time.

On the way.

Fixed Tandem:
The assembly of two axles and suspension that is attached to the chassis in one place and cannot be moved back and forth.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – The primary mission of the FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

Freight Forwarder:
A company that arranges for the truck transportation of cargo belonging to others, utilizing for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation.

Glad Hands:
Interlocking connectors attached to air hoses that supply air from the tractor to the trailer for air brakes.

A device that limits the maximum speed of a vehicle.

A significant change in elevation; either an upgrade, or downgrade, the steepness of which is determined as a percentage.

Hazardous materials, as classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Any transportation of hazardous materials is regulated by the United States Department of Transportation. To haul hazardous materials, a driver needs a hazmat endorsement on their CDL, plus special training.

Using more than one mode of transportation to deliver shipment.

When the tractor is at an extreme angle to the trailer. Can be done intentionally, as in jackknife parking, or unintentionally, as in a jackknife accident common when slippery conditions are present.

Jake Brake (Retarder):
The device used to assist brakes in order to slow a vehicle. There are many different types of retarders; including engine retarders, transmission-mounted hydraulic retarders, and axle mounted electromagnetic retarders. An engine retarder commonly called a ‘Jake Brake’ is used in most trucks today.

Johnson Bar:
The trailer hand valve commonly used to test the brakes after coupling the tractor and trailer. Also known as the trolley valve.

Just-in-time (J.I.T.):
A method of inventory control in which warehousing is either nonexistent or kept to a minimum.

A thick, metal pin located underneath the front of the trailer. This kingpin slides into, and connects with, the locking jaws of the fifth wheel of the tractor or dolly, thereby attaching the tractor/dolly to the trailer.

Kingpin Lock:
A locking device that is placed around/over the kingpin, which prevents a fifth wheel from connecting to it, and taking the trailer. Highly recommended if you plan on dropping the trailer in an unsecured location, which includes a truck stop.

Landing Gear:
Retracting legs that support the trailer when it’s not connected to the tractor.

LCV (Long Combination Vehicle):
Any combination of a truck tractor and two or more trailers or semi-trailers that operate on the Interstate System at a gross vehicle weight (GVW) greater than 80,000 pounds.

Moving freight from one point to another

Load Locks:
Load locks are used to secure cargo for transport and maximize load safety by preventing shifting that might allow products not secured with cargo load bars to impact on another and cause damage.

The book in which truck drivers record there trucking activities – a truck driver’s hours of service and duty status for each 24 hour period.

Low Boy:
An open flatbed trailer, where the main body of the trailer is very low to the ground so that it can haul oversize or wide loads.

LTL (Less-Than-Truckload):
A quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a truckload rate, usually less than 10,000 pounds.

Casual laborers who load and unload trailers for a fee.

Medical Certification:
A valid medical certificate must be filled out by a medical professional listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners at the conclusion of an extensive physical exam.

Medical Review officer of drug and alcohol test results.

Term that refers to the front of the trailer.

A truck driver who’s in business for himself; and owns and operates his own truck/s, trailer/s, and/or equipment; an independent contractor.

Extra freight which shouldn’t have been shipped.

Pay Load:
The weight of the cargo being hauled.

The electrical line supplying electrical power from the tractor to the trailer, coiled like a pig’s tail.

Pintle Hook:
A coupling device used in double and triple trailer, and truck-trailer combinations.

A thorough inspection of the truck competed before driving for the first time to be sure everything is functioning properly before taking the vehicle on the road.

Private Carrier:
A not-for-hire carrier contracted to or owned by a shipper that does not offer services to the general public.

A thorough inspection of the truck completed after driving at the end of your shift to be sure everything is functioning properly when taking the vehicle off the road.

PTO (Power Takeoff):
A device used in tractors that transmits tractor engine power to auxiliary equipment.

A refrigerated trailer, where the temperature is controlled by a refrigeration unit (the reefer unit). A “reefer” can either refer to the reefer unit or the entire reefer trailer.

Runaway Truck Ramp:
An emergency escape ramp used on steep downgrades for trucks that have lost braking power.

Substance Abuse Program or Substance Abuse Professional.

A plastic or metal band (once it’s broken, it cannot be reconnected) placed on the trailer door latch. An intact seal ensures that the trailer doors have not been opened, and the cargo is untouched.

The number of pieces in a shipment that are less than the piece count on the shipping documents.

Sleeper (Sleeper berth):
A sleeping compartment situated behind the tractor’s cab, behind the driver’s seat, or an integral part of the cab.

Sliding Tandem:
A mechanism that allows a tandem axle suspension to be moved back and forth at the rear of a semi-trailer in order to distribute the weight between axles, and adjust the length between kingpin and tandems.

When a driver is not assigned to a regular tractor, but moves in and out of tractors as they become available.

TL (Truckload):
A quantity of freight sufficient to fill a trailer, usually greater than 10,000 pounds.

A truck designed primarily to pull a semi-trailer by the use of the fifth wheel, which is mounted over its drive axle/s., May be called a truck/highway tractor to differentiate it from a farm tractor.

Any combinations of three axles grouped together.

Description of goods with a carrier freight shipment.

Weigh Station:
A checkpoint along a highway to inspect vehicle weights.

Yard Tractor:
Special tractor used to move trailers around a terminal, warehouse, distribution center, etc., also referred to as a yard mule.