In the transport and shipping industry, the term deadhead refers to a situation in which a truck or another type of vehicle which is driven empty. Deadheads are empty because they’re going to pick up a load from a certain location, or because they just completed a delivery.

Strictly speaking, no income is being made during a period of deadheading. But the driver of the delivery vehicle is still performing part of his job. As such, many drivers expect to receive what is known as deadhead pay.

Freight brokers or shippers can contribute to deadhead pay, often by including provisions for it in the driver’s contract. Many companies set standards on when deadhead pay should be given, such as the distance between the initial location to the pickup location.