Eric Van Egeren | FleetOwner
Fleets Explained: FleetOwner's Trucking 101 series explains how the transportation industry works.

Fleets Explained: How the trucking industry works

May 15, 2024
Trucking can be complicated and overwhelming. The FleetOwner team wants to help explain it better. This new series, designed for new fleet industry and supplier hires, aims to demystify how U.S. transportation works.

When you’re new to this industry, things can feel overwhelming quickly. Even those of us who have been in and around trucking for several years can learn something new about transportation.

I have lost count of how many times I’ve met someone at industry trade shows and events who just joined a fleet or supplier staff and was trying to immerse themselves with as much as they could learn at workshops, expo halls, and cocktail hours. Learning about trucking and fleet management is like drinking from a firehose: You’ll pick up a lot of information with each gulp—but you know you can’t catch it all. 

For the new industry members and those of us who are still learning and refining our transportation knowledge, we’re launching a new series here at FleetOwner this week: Fleets Explained, where we’ll break down standard trucking industry terms, concepts, and more.

See also: Fleets Explained: What are trucking segments?

Since taking over as FleetOwner’s chief editor a year ago, I’ve been fortunate enough to put together a talented team of young journalists who were new to the trucking industry. I always remind them to play the “new card” as long as possible: It’s OK to tell people you’re interviewing that you’re new to this industry because those who’ve been around fleets and trucking for a long time love to explain fleets and trucking. 

“I joined the FleetOwner team in November 2023 with no prior knowledge or experience in the trucking industry,” Jenna Hume, FleetOwner’s digital editor, said. “I’ve learned a lot about the industry since then, but the amount of information left to learn can often seem overwhelming.”

Jenna wrote our first entry in the Fleets Explained series, which explains the different segments of the trucking industry. “While industry experts might learn a thing or two from this series, it will be largely geared toward trucking newbies and anyone else who wants to learn,” Jenna explained. “The trucking industry has been so welcoming to me, and I hope this series can help welcome others.”

As the industry veterans and the Baby Boomer generation retire, fleets and suppliers are hiring the next generation of future leaders. While the average American can take trucking—which is responsible for so much of the U.S. economy—for granted, those of us who live and breathe it every day know it can be complicated to move freight from coast to coast or simply deliver a package across town. 

What’s next for Fleets Explained?

With the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo beginning next week, our next Fleets Explained article will focus on electric vehicles and explain how they work and differ from traditional equipment. Other future topics include explaining what a TMS is, how drayage works, the different types of trucks, who the truck OEMs are, what various trucking abbreviations mean, how supply chains work, trucking regulations, and much more. 

Creating these fleet information capsules will help us as journalists take another look at the vital industry we cover. In addition, we really want this to be a way for you to help your company’s new team members learn more about the industry. 

But, as Jenna pointed out, this isn’t just for new industry members. We hope industry veterans can help us with article ideas, clarifications, and corrections. This is a complicated industry, and we could all use some guidance now and again. If you have an idea or want us to expand on or over-explain a concept, email us at [email protected].

About the Author

Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

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