What is a Commercial Truck? A Guide to Trucking Types

Common Types of Commercial Trucks

There are a lot of commercial truck types in the US, and it is handy to understand how they differ. This guide covers the most popular vehicles on the road.

Also known as just a “semi,” a semi-trailer truck is a tractor unit joined with one or more trailers. The trailer carries freight, and it attaches to the tractor via a hitch.  The semi-truck design differs from a rigid truck and trailer. The hitch on many tractor-trailer trucks can move about so that the weight of the freight distributes evenly.

This type of semi-truck is also called a sleeper cab. As the name suggests, they have a compartment attached so that the truck driver can rest. This truck has a flat roof and minimal headspace.

A mid-roof sleeper is a type of semi-truck with an attached compartment. The driver can rest or sleep, and the compartment usually has a TV, bed, and storage. It is slightly bigger than the flat roof sleeper, which only has room for a bunk and side storage. The mid-roof has a higher and more rounded roof.

This type of semi also has a compartment joined to the cabin for the truck drivers to enjoy. The raised roof sleeper has the most space of all the sleepers, so the drivers are more comfortable. Some of these sleepers have high-quality sound systems, flat screens, and decent storage space.

Day cab semi-trucks are only meant for day trips. For this reason, they do not have overnight sleeping compartments. If you see a day cab on the road, you know that the driver is hauling a large load for a relatively short trip.

Other Types of Commercial Trucks

A box truck is also known as a box van, cube van, or cube truck. This cab truck has a cube-shaped cargo area attached. With a box truck, the cabin and cargo area are separate entities. The truck has a cargo box added to the chassis, and you can clearly see where the pieces join.

A box van is only one piece. A rear door separates the cabin from the cargo area, but the vehicle is unibody. Box trucks often transport appliances and furniture.

As you may know, dump trucks take waste away from construction sites and carry cargo for purposes where convenient unloading by dumping is required. They have an open-box bed with a hinged rear so that the driver can dump materials from the truck easily. Standard dump trucks have one 4×2 four-wheeler and one front steering axle.

Garbage Truck

Garbage trucks collect solid waste and transport that waste to landfills. Though you are probably familiar with garbage trucks, you may not recognize the different types. The seven styles of garbage trucks include:

  • Front-loaders
  • Rear-loaders
  • Side-loaders
  • Manual side-loaders
  • Automated side-loaders
  • Manual/automatic side-loaders
  • Semi-automatic side-loaders

The name of the truck corresponds to the place on the truck where the driver can load and dump trash bins. Manual loaders require the driver to dump the waste using the truck controls.

A flatbed truck is a big truck with no sides or roof on the body. The completely level bed allows for quick loading of large, heavy goods. You may see a flatbed truck carry a small house or other weather-proof cargo.

Also known as a boom truck, bucket trucks have a hydraulic boom that can raise people to high up areas. You will see this type of truck used by construction workers or utility companies.

Grapple trucks have a grapple loader mounted to their frame. Sanitation, public works departments, or waste collection companies use these trucks to load and haul bulky waste. The six types of waste collection systems that require grapple trucks are:

  • Loader and body systems
  • Roll-off systems
  • Rear-mounted loader
  • Rear steer systems
  • Haul truck systems
  • Transfer systems

Refrigerator trucks are equipped to carry freight at certain temperatures. The cooling agent can be ice, a mechanical refrigeration system, or carbon dioxide. These trucks differ from insulated vans, which do not have a cooling apparatus.

A heavy hauler 18-wheeler allows drivers to transport oversized loads without a special permit. They have a multi-axle flatbed trailer and a heavy tractor unit. It is not uncommon to see multiple trailers towed by one tractor unit.

Tow trucks move vehicles from one location to another. They may move broken-down vehicles or those involved in accidents, cars improperly parked, or impounded. Tow trucks only carry one vehicle at a time, and there are five styles of tow trucks, including:

  • Boom
  • Wheel-lift
  • Integrated
  • Flatbed
  • Lift flatbed

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Types of Trucking Accidents We Handle in West Houston and Across Texas:

  • Jackknife Accidents
  • Truck Rollovers
  • Tire Blowouts
  • Truck Driver DWI
  • Wide Turn Accidents
  • Blind Spot Accidents
  • Read End Accidents
  • Brake Failure
  • Underride Accidents
  • Lost Load Accidents
  • Head-on Collisions
  • T-Bone Collisions
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