As a truck driver, you’re probably already familiar with some of the trucker lingo. However, whether you’re new to the industry or not, this blog will provide you with a comprehensive list of truck driver terms. This way, you’ll learn important terms or discover some new ones.
We want to keep you up to speed with these terms, but AllTruckJobs.com advises you to use them at your own discretion.
The History of Trucker Lingo
Trucker lingo originates from the use of Citizens Band (CB) radio that truckers use to communicate on highways. These slang terms allowed communication to be more brief and clear, which is essential for exchanging information over the radio.
In addition, this unique language serves as a form of entertainment and builds camaraderie among the trucking community. A lot of this lingo stems from 10 codes. These 10 codes were originally developed for law enforcement and radio communication.
Other elements of the lingo come from the trucker culture, which reflects the unique challenges, experiences, and humor of the community. This lingo has even penetrated mainstream culture through its use in film and television.
Despite changes in technology and the way truck drivers communicate, this language has endured and remains a significant part of the trucking industry.
Understanding CB Radio
Citizens Band, also known as CB Radio, is a radio that operates across 40 channels in the 27 MHz band. Not only is it a way for truckers to exchange important information, but it also contributes to trucker lingo. CB radio helps drivers stay safe on the road and also builds a sense of community between truckers.
Many trucking companies have a designated company CB channel so that they can talk about company or personal manners without monopolizing a channel.
It contributes to many of the terms about to be outlined, it stems from codes that law enforcement officers use on CB radio.
Here is a list of CB radio codes that are a part of the trucker dialect:
- 10-1: A message that is being transmitted or received poorly. Drivers may also use the term mud duck to indicate that there’s a weak radio signal.
- 10-4: It means message received or ok.
- 10-7: Drivers use this if they’re leaving the air or approaching an area without service.
- 10-20: This is a way for truckers to say where their current location is. It inspired the term Home 20, which indicates a driver’s home location.
- 10-33: Drivers use this in an emergency situation, typically if there’s an emergency at a weigh station.
- 10-36: If you want to know what the correct time is, you should use this code.
- 10-42: Driveers use this code to note the specific location of a traffic accident.
- 10-43: Building off 10-42, this tells drivers that there is a traffic tie-up ahead.
- 10-100: Truckers use this code when they need to use the bathroom. It has ties to the term “pay the water bill.”
- Handle: Your CB radio nickname is your handle.
List of Trucker Lingo
Here is a comprehensive list of trucker lingo:
- Alamo City: San Antonio, Texas
- B Town: Birmingham, Alabama
- Bean Town: Boston, Massachusetts
- Beer Town: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Big A: Amarillo, Texas
- Big Apple: New York City, New York
- Bright Lights: Kansas City, Kansas
- Bull City: Durham, North Carolina
- Choo-Choo: Chattanooga, Tennesee
- Cigar City: Tampa, Florida
- Derby City: Louisville, Kentucky
- Gateway: St. Louis, Missouri
- Guitar: Nashville, Tennesee
- Indy 500: Indianapolis, Indiana
- K-Town: Knoxville, Tennesee
- Motor City: Detroit, Michigan
- Queen City: Charlotte, North Carolina
- Shaky-Town: Los Angeles, California
- Sin City: Reno, Nevada
- The Big D: Dallas, Texas
- The Dome: Houston, Texas
- Watermelon 500: Atlanta, Georgia
- Windy City: Chicago, Illinois
Lingo That Refers To A Weigh Station or Truck Stop:
- All Locked Up: A term used for a closed weigh station.
- Chicken Coop: This term literally means weigh station.
- Chicken Coop is Open: A way of saying that a weigh station is open.
- Choke and Puke: This is a playful name for a truck stop or restaurant. Since drivers have sometimes had little time to stop, they have to “choke” down food so fast they might “puke.”
- Pay The Water Bill: Truckers use this term to let others know when they’re stopping to take a bathroom break.
- Runnin’ You Across: This term means that a weigh station is open and is currently weighing trucks.
Terms For Other Vehicles On the Road
- Buster Brown: This is a name for a UPS truck. You can use this to let fellow drivers know that a UPS truck is in the vicinity since they make frequent stops.
- Dragon Wagon: This is another name for a fire truck in the world of trucking. They call a firetruck a dragon due to it’s vibrant colors, association with fire, and the fact that it protects our society.
- Meat Wagon: If you hear the term meat wagon, this means that there is an ambulance nearby. Drivers use this to indicate an accident, medical emergency, or an oncoming emergency vehicle, so others stay safe and can get out of the way.
- Stagecoach: A tour bus
- Wrecker: Tow trucks get the name ‘Wrecker’ because it deals with wrecks and break apart car accidents by removing vehicles. Drivers make others aware of its presence so that they can reduce their speed and be wary of the accident.
Lingo That Refers to Other Trucks
- Bedbugger: This is a truck that belongs to a household moving company.
- Big Truck: While this is pretty straightforward, the term big truck is used to signify an 18-wheeler or any other large freight-bearing vehicle. Drivers use this term to distinguish between big rigs and smaller vehicles and notifies other drivers of larger trucks nearby. This helps with road safety and traffic flow.
- Bull Dog: A Mack truck.
- Bull Hauler: This is a driver who transports livestock in a trailer equipped with ventilation and drainage systems meant for the transport of animals. Truckers know this as a more challenging job due to the added responsibility of caring for livestock.
- Cab Over: The original term was cab over the engine, which has now been shortened to cab over. This refers to a truck design where the cab sits directly over the engine.
- Covered Wagon: A covered wagon is a flatbed trailer with sidewalls and a tarp meant to protect cargo during inclement weather. It’s a nod to the Conestoga wagons that pioneers used during the westward expansion of the United States, as this is seen as a modern equivalent.
- Deadhead: A “deadhead” indicates that there is a truck that is driving an empty trailer. trucking companies, as driving with an empty trailer leads to fuel being burned without any cargo being delivered.
- Diesel Car: This doesn’t refer to a vehicle that is powered by diesel, as you might assume. It actually refers to a semi-truck. Semi-truck drivers rely on diesel fuel to haul freight across long distances which is how it gets this name.
- Freight Shaker: Another name for a Freightliner truck is a freight shaker. The name is a nod to the truck’s ride quality which is a lot less smooth than newer vehicles.
- Parking Lot On Wheels: A term used to refer to a roadway truck that transports vehicles.
- Reefers: A refrigerated van trailer. Drivers typically employ this term when discussing the challenges associated with hauling refrigerated goods.
- Skateboard: A straight flatbed trailer. Since its design resembles a skateboard, that’s how it gets its name. Drivers typically bring up this term in conversation to acknowledge logistics or challenges associated with hauling cargo on a flatbed trailer. It also refers to a multi-lane highway
- Wiggle Wagons: Wiggle Wagons are double or triple trailers. Trucker use this to let other drivers know that there’s a truck with more than one trailer attached so they can take the necessary safety precautions.
Terms That Refer to a Law Enforcement Officer or Vehicle
- Bear: This term is another word for a law enforcement officer, typically a state trooper or the highway patrol.
- Full Grown Bear: If drivers want to refer to the highway patrol specifically, they should use this term.
- Bear Bite: A speeding ticket.
- Bear in the air: This signifies that the law enforcement officer is in an aircraft, such as a helicopter, monitoring traffic and speed on the highway.
- Bear With Rolling Discos: It’s a speeding police car with its lights on. Drivers need to be aware of this to get out of the patrol car’s way.
- City Kitty: A city police officer.
- County Mounty: This refers to a county police officer, often a sheriff’s deputy.
- Diesel Cop: Diesel cop is another name for the Department of Transportation (DOT). This is a commercial vehicle enforcement officer.
- Evil Kenevil: This term refers to a police officer on a motorcycle. It’s a reference to the famous stuntman known for his motorcycle jumps. Truckers employ this term to alert other drivers that there is an officer on a motorcycle so that they can avoid a speed trap.
- Gumball Machine: This is a term for a patrol car. Since a gumball machine is known for its colorful display, this term is a nod to a patrol car’s lights.
- Kojak With a Kodak: A reference to the popular 1970s TV detective Kojak and the Kodak camera, this term refers to a police officer using a radar gun. Drivers use this term to warn others about law enforcement monitoring speed so that they can avoid a potential speeding ticket.
- Plain Wrapper: A truck driver uses this to let others know that an unmarked law enforcement vehicle is nearby.
- Spy In the Sky: Spy in the sky is another term for law enforcement who are in an aircraft.
Other Truck Driver Terms
An alligator refers to a piece of tire on the road, typically from a blown tire. Drivers call it an alligator because the appearance of the tire pieces resembles an alligator. Since they’re road hazards, truckers use this term to warn others and prevent potential accidents.
Some drivers may use this to refer to a shiny truck.
The term “back door” refers to something or someone being behind you. This could be applied to the term bear. If a trucker says, “There’s a bear at your back door,” this means that there is a police officer behind you.
In the world of trucker lingo, “bird dog” refers to a radar gun. Since this device acts like a hunting dog to sniff out a speeding vehicle, it acquires this name. Truckers use this term to let others know that there is a radar gun aimed at them.
A bumper sticker in the trucker dialect is a vehicle that is tailgating behind a truck. You can use this to notify fellow truckers of drivers who don’t understand the stopping distance required for larger vehicles that are creating a potential road hazard.
It’s hard to place where “chicken lights” originated from, but some believe that it refers to decorative lights on chicken coops. In the world of trucking, it refers to extra lights added onto a truck or trailer for decorative purposes.
In addition, a chicken car refers to a fancy truck that’s considered dressed up. Take pride in your chicken lights as they keep you safe and help you stand out.
Double nickel is a term used to denote when you’re driving at 55 miles per hour. Since a nickel is worth 5 cents, two of them are equivalent to 55 mph. Truck drivers use this to communicate their speed or inform fellow truckers of the speed in that area.
Going into ‘Georgia overdrive’ means that a truck has put its transmission in neutral in order to coast down a hill. It’s a method used to increase speed going downhill to let gravity do the work instead of the truck’s engine. Mos truck drivers don’t use this method because it’s unsafe, but a driver would use this term to warn other drivers of their faster-than-average speed going downhill.
As you may have guessed, this is used to denote the slower lane on the highway, which is usually the farthest right lane. Drivers use this to let others know their location or indicate that they’re planning on moving into the slow lane.
Truckers use the term grossed out when their truck’s gross vehicle weight is maxed out. A truck that is at 80,000 pounds is usually at its maximum legal weight.
In contrast with the granny lane, the hammer lane indicates the passing lane or the fast lane, which is often the far left lane. Just like its counterpart, drivers used this to indicate their current location or the intended movement.
Ho Chi Minh Trail
This is an overarching term for a particularly tricky or dangerous route. It’s often used in conjunction with California Highway 152, which is known for having lots of accidents. The term is a nod to the trail used during the Vietnam War, as it was also difficult to navigate and had rough terrain.
Rocking The Socks
Like how we use socks to keep our feet warm in the winter, trucks use snow tire chains to help their wheels gain traction in the snow. This term refers to putting on these chains and letting others know when the weather calls for them.
This is what truckers call a mile marker on the interstate. Just like a yardstick has markers denoting distance, a mile marker indicates the distance on the highway. Drivers use this to let others know where they’re at or how far they’ve traveled.
The Culture of Trucker Lingo
The use of CB radio and its associated terms have extended past its initial use as a tool for quick and efficient communication. It has now become a way to forge a connection with fellow drivers. Utilizing this language makes you immediately recognizable to other drivers. In addition, it serves as a social outlet for long and isolated drives.
Drivers can use their lingo to bring humor into a conversation or allow you to discuss the challenges associated with truck driving. They may also use it to warn or support other drivers when there are potential problems or safety issues up ahead. Terms like “bear in the air” and “10-42” let others know that there is law enforcement monitoring speed or if there is a traffic tie-up.
Importance of These Terms in the Trucking Industry
While methods of communication are changing, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be familiar with these terms. They’re no longer just a means of getting a point across quickly and efficiently but have expanded into a unique language that represents the trucking community.
If you want to build a sense of camaraderie with your fellow truckers, all it takes is throwing a little trucker lingo into your next conversation; just be sure to use them at your own discretion.