Known By Tough-Guy Nicknames like Yard Jockey, Terminal Tractors Do Their Job

Mar 2, 2021

Terminal tractors are the durable, reliable workhorses of the shipping industry. You’ll find them moving tractor loads around distribution centers, warehouses and seaports around the world.

More specifically, the terminal tractor is a short-haul semi-tractor known for its agility in quickly hooking up and moving heavy loads from one point to another at a storage yard or facility.

Although it’s hardly recognized outside the shipping industry, this “Little Engine That Could” is well-respected and loved by its drivers and operators for their toughness under long hours of wear and tear.

In fact, terminal tractors carry a wide number of nicknames that reflect their hard work ethic. Their monikers include such gritty titles as:

  • Yard jockeys
  • Yard mules
  • Yard dogs
  • Yard goats
  • Yard horses
  • Yard birds
  • Hostlers
  • Mules
  • Spotting trucks and Spotter trucks

Once inside the tight confines of a port or warehouse yard, terminal tractors are much easier to maneuver and operate than regular road trucks. But don’t expect them to win any road races – top speed for most terminal tractors is about 25 mph!

The following characteristics are a few of the features that set terminal tractors apart from regular road trucks:

  • A single-person cab low to the ground and offset to the side of the engine;
  • Large panoramic windows for 360-degree views;
  • Easy access to trailer connections via a sliding rear door;
  • A very short wheelbase, usually with a solidly mounted rear axle;
  • A low-power diesel or alternative fuel engine, usually with automatic transmission;
  • A fifth-wheel coupling with an integrated lifting mechanism that allows the semi-trailer’s legs to remain in the lowered position during movement;
  • Heavy wall cab construction for protection under abusive conditions;
  • Large panoramic windows for 360-degree views.

With one of the country’s largest inventories of multiple brands of terminal tractors and parts, Turbo Terminal Tractors is recognized nationally as the industry’s leading TICO terminal tractor dealership.