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Travels of a Trucker Trailer Signage

January 21, 2012

You’ve all seen em driving alongside a big truck and it’s trailer. Those markings and signs on a trailer? Maybe you’ve seen placards on a trailer? Do you know what they mean? Those little numbers on every trailer. To most drivers they are just a trailer identification mark and a way of finding the trailer in a sea of trailers. They actually represent something. If you don’t drive a truck, you may have noticed the numbers or the placards also. Perhaps knowing what the placards mean will give you a sense of respect when you see a trailer carrying a placarded load and knowing what the letters on a trailer mean will give you an indication of what type of trailer it is.

Some examples you will see on a trailer may look like V, SD, TDA, R, DD, B, A, etc. some of the ways they may be written can be expressed like 53V5421, DD109, TDA5324798. So what do these letters mean and what do they represent? Each trailer although to anyone who doesn’t know may all look alike. They are either a box or they are a flatdeck. However, there are many variations of boxes just as there are many variations of Flat Decks. Each type is capable of doing a special job and it is marked so that drivers know what they are picking up and to be sure they have the right trailer for the right job, they can check the indicative letters on the trailer.

Okay let’s begin with Trailer Markings and what they mean.

V  Van   CH Chassis   R Reefer   TDA Tandem Dry Axle (some people use Air)   SD StepDeck   DD Double Drop

B usually the rear trailer of a Super B Combination.   A usually the lead trailer of a Super B Combination

F Flatbed   FS Flatbed with Sides   FT Flatbed with Tarps   TRL Trailer   DDE Double Drop Expando   E Expando

TA Tandem Axle   TR Tridem Reefer   H Heater   D Dry

These are some of the more familiar trailer types you will see on the road. There are of course many others, but for the point of keeping this article shorter, I will stop at those ones. Now occasionally on Tanker Trucks, like those delivering fuel you will see additional markings which are required by the US D.O.T. (department of Transportation) and by C.V.S.A. (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance). These  are markings which indicate when the trailer was last inspected internally for any ruptures, leaks and pressurization. It has an acronym which I do believe is called V.I.K.A.S., but I can’t remember it for the life of me.

Often you will see trailers going down the roads and they have funky looking placards on them. As most drivers often seem unaware of what is inside since they do seem to cut in front of a large vehicle only to slow down or make a sudden turn should realize is that not only are they placing themselves, the driver but often they are also endangering the lives of those who live or who are within a few hundred meters or the environment with their actions. Some of the chemicals that truckers carry can react violently if exposed to air or water or may explode. I will just post a copy of the different placards without going into too much detail. You can find all this information online if you live or travel in an area that sees a lot of placarded trucks to understand what they may be carrying or how it may react under a given circumstance. Typically they will have a UN number to identify the product followed by the placard.

Of course there are books and guidelines written on the rules of placarding and each driver has to know the rules if they carry Dangerous Goods. An example…a load may be carrying mixed gases, but the gases themselves may not be dangerous. So the placard would be Class 2 (Gases)  However, one canister of poisonous gas may be added to the whole load and suddenly the dynamics of the load change. Even if it is a small canister the placard would now be a Class 6. Another example, a load may have all inert gases carrying a Class 2 placard, but if any of the gases are oxidizing agents then the load must carry a Class 5 Placard. As you can see, there would be so many variations…and then trying to remember a mixed load…if it is more than 500kg or less than 500kg, calculating the ratio of gas to a solid. It could just go on and on.

The one thing to be sure is to always be familiar with your surroundings. You may not be driving the load of dangerous goods, but your actions could speak to saving the lives of hundreds of others or causing the death or illness of hundreds of others. It would be best to be cautious. Again dear readers, thanks for reading Travels of a Trucker. If you like my short posts, be sure to follow me by email.If you are on Twitter be sure to follow me there:!/truckerofbc Alternatively you can follow me on Facebook:

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Thanks for reading, drive safe and keep em shiny side up!



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