Trucker Slang: The Complete Guide
"On my way to the Bright Lights, I saw a bear bait that blew right past Kojak with a Kodak, but Evel Knievel caught him and made him feed the bears!”
"With all those drivers keying up on Sesame Street no one told me to brush my teeth and comb my hair! County mounty almost gave me an invite.”
“10-38 couple miles off your front door just past the credit-card machine. There’s a fender bender with a Four-Wheeler and a Suicide Jockey.”
Any idea what any of these statements meant? At the end of this guide, we will revisit these three trucker statements that you should (hopefully) be able to decipher by then!
Welcome to trucker slang: a distinctive argot developed by truckers on CB Radio in the 1970s and 80s.
Brief History of CB Radio and Trucker Slang:
Truckers frequently communicate on CB Radio (Citizen’s Band Radio), which was originally the way they communicated with each other before even cell phones were developed. CB Radio was created in 1958 after the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) allocated a new block of frequencies for a Citizen’s Band service. Its popularity grew throughout the 1960s, particularly among small businesses that commuted often such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and above all truck drivers. With time, CB Radios became less and less expensive, which coincided with an explosion in CB Radio usage and in turn trucker slang evolved.
You might be surprised to hear that some commonplace phrases originally sprung out from trucker slang. Some popular examples include calling one’s spouse their “better half”, calling one’s home phone their “landline”, and calling the retail chain Walmart “Wally World”. Indeed, truckers not only have a tremendous impact on our national economy, but also our everyday language and culture.
Truckers use CB Radio to warn each other of hazards on the road, but more often than not they tune in to simply pass time on long drives. If you’ve ever listened to CB Radio, you may have struggled with keeping up with the conversation; confusing trucker lingo can go in one ear and out the other to the inexperienced listener!
Whether you’re a four wheeler (non-trucker) or driver (trucker), read the following to become fluent in a secret language marked by its colorful and often racy terms. By reading this comprehensive guide on trucker slang, you’ll be well on your way to talking like a true trucker!
To begin, here’s a short video serving as an introduction to trucker slang:
Trucks and non-police vehicles :
Evidently, truckers come into contact with a multitude of different types of vehicles on the road. After all, they drive for a living. Here’s a list of terms truckers frequently use to identify other trucks and non-police vehicles among one another:
TermMeaning or Translation Big R Roadway truck Big truck/18-wheelerAny tractor-trailer Bull DogMack TruckBull FrogABF TruckBull Hauler Livestock HaulerBumper StickerCar that tailgates oftenBuster BrownUPS TruckChicken Truck Dressed up, fancy truck (extra chrome, wide front bumper, extra light, etc)County MountySheriff Deputy Diesel CarSemi-tractor Draggin WagonTow truck also known as a WreckerDriverTrucker (individual driving a truck)Dung BeetleVolkswagen Beetle with a male driverFender Benderan accident (adopted by general public now)Four-wheelerAny vehicle with four wheels (used primarily for personal cars/vans/SUV’s) Also used to describe non-truckersFreight shakerFreightliner truckGeneral Mess of CrapGMC truckGo-Go Girls Dance on the FloorLivestock truck, typically hailing pigs or cowsGo-Go JuiceDisel FuelHood Typical tractor (not a cab-over)Jet PilotSpeeding VehicleKiddy CarSchool BusLand YachtCamper or mobile homeMeat WagonAmbulanceOrgan Donor Civilian motorcyclist driving recklessly or without a helmetPiggy Back Truck towing another truckPiggy BankArmored carPregnant Roller SkateVolkswagen BeetleRigBig Truck or Tractor Trailer UnitRoller SkateSmall CarSalt ShakerHighway department truck used for dispensing ice melting agents on the road (usually salt)SemiproPickup driver, often used disparagingly SkateboardStraight, flatbed trailerSuicide JockeyDriver hauling dangerous substances such as fuel or explosivesThermos BottleRoad tractor with a chemical trailerTurkey HearseTruck with a load of turkeys intended for slaughterWiggle WagonTruck with multiple connected trailers
Police Related Terms & Phrases:
In trucker slang, there seems to be a never ending supply of terms and phrases related to the police and law enforcement. Here’s a list of the primary terms you should know to master truck-speak:
TermMeaning or TranslationBear BaitSpeeding four-wheeler that drivers hope the cops catchBaby BearRookie Police OfficerBear Bite/Invitation/Driving AwardSpeeding TicketBear in the airPolice officer in some form of aircraft (particularly helicopters)Bear in the bushesLaw enforcement is hiding somewhere (probably with a radar gun aimed at traffic)Bear rolling discosSpeeding police car with flashing lightsBear trap/Bird dogRadar detector or speed trapBrown paper bagUnmarked police carBrush your teeth and comb your hairGet ready. There are officers shooting vehicles with a radar gun ahead! Catch CarPolice car parked in a radar set-up Eaten By A BearArrested by the policeEvel KnievelPolice officer on a motorcycle Feeding the bearsPaying a ticket or citationFull-grown bearState police trooperGot a clean shotThere are no police cars up aheadKojak with a KodakOfficer (Kojak) with their radar gun out and pointed in traffic, like a camera (Kodak)Local yokelLocal police officerMama BearFemale police officer.NightcrawlersPolice officers (especially when there are many in the area)Papa BearMale police officer Paper HangerPolice officer giving out speeding tickets.Plenty of protectionPlenty of police in the areaPolar bearWhite unmarked police vehicle.Smokey with a CustomerDriver getting busted by a police officer and given a ticketSmokey/BearPolice OfficerStarsky and HutchPolice Officers
Names for Popular Trucking Cities:
Exploring different cities around the country is all but inevitable for truckers across the country. In trucker slang, many of these cities have unique names that may surprise you. Here’s a list of trucker slang for different cities across the US that truckers frequently drive across:
TermMeaning or Translation A-town/Hotlanta/The Big AAtlanta, GeorgiaAir CapitalWichita, KansasB townBirmingham, AlabamaBean-TownBoston, Massachusetts Beer CityMilwaukee, WisconsinBig D Dallas, TexasBig OOmaha, NebraskaBikini/Little CubaMiami, FloridaBright LightsKansas City, Missouri Bull CityDurham, North CarolinaCB TownCouncil Bluffs, IowaCharm CityBaltimore, MarylandChoo-Choo Chattanooga, TennesseeCigar CityTampa, FloridaDerby CityLouisville, Kentucky Disney TownAnaheim, CaliforniaGatewaySt. Louis, Missouri. GuitarNashville, TennesseeMotor CityDetroit, MichiganSaltySalt Lake City, UtahShaky CityLos Angeles, California Sin City/Dice TownLos Vegas, NevadaSteel CityPittsburg, Pennsylvania The AlamoSan Antonio, TexasThe AppleNew York City, New YorkThe Astrodome/ The DomeHouston, TexasThe DirtyCleveland, OhioWindy CityChicago, Illinois
Trucker slang integrates lingo developed from CB Radio, which consists of the following codes that each have a particular meaning in truck-speak:
TermMeaning or Translation10-1Receiving poorly10-2Receiving well10-3Stop transmitting10-4Ok, message received 10-5Relay message10-6Busy, stand by10-7Out of service, leaving air 10-9Repeat message10-12Visitors present10-16Make pickup at ...10-20My location is .. 10-22Report in person to ...10-23Stand by10-24Completed last assignment10-27I am changing to channel … 10-35Confidential information 10-38Ambulance needed at … 10-42Traffic accident at … 10-100 Rest Stop10-200Police needed at ...
Other Common Terms and Phrases:
Here are some final, intriguing trucking terms and phrases we think are worth remembering in case you find yourself talking to a group of truckers or tuning into channel 19 on CB Radio:
TermMeaning or Translation DonkeyBehind youFront doorIn front of youSesame StreetChannel 19 on CB Radio (this is the most common channel)Hammer Down Put the pedal to the metal (driving fast)Having Shutter TroubleHaving trouble staying awakeKeep the Shiny Side UpHave a safe trip Keying upCutting other drivers off on the channel by talking too muchPaying the water bill Stopping to urinate Stack Them EightsSo long, and good luckThrough the WoodsTaking the backroadsCredit-Card Machine Very narrow bridgeOut of town Back on the road after having left a city
Congratulations, you’re now fluent in truck-speak! Remember those three trucker slang statements we introduced in the beginning? Let’s revisit them now that we know truck-speak:
Trucker Slang: On my way to the Bright Lights, I saw a bear bait that blew right past Kojak with a Kodak, and Evel Knievel caught him and made him feed the bears!
Translation: On my way to Kansas City, I saw a speeding car that blew right past an officer with a radar gun, and the officer on a motorcycle pulled him over and ticketed him!
Trucker Slang: With all those drivers keying up on Sesame Street no one told me to brush my teeth and comb my hair! County mounty almost gave me an invite.
Translation: With all these drivers constantly talking on the main radio channel, no one warned me that there’s a speed trap up ahead. The sheriff’s deputy nearly gave me a ticket.
Trucker Slang: 10-38 couple miles off your front door just past the credit-card machine. There’s a fender bender with a Four-Wheeler and a Suicide Jockey.
Translation: Call an ambulance a couple miles in front of you just past the really narrow bridge. There’s an accident with a car and a truck carrying dangerous substances.
Fender benders like these happen far too often. Using AI and Behavioral Economics to promote positive driving behavior, SafeMode is a fleet mobility company which is working on an incentive based system to change driver behavior to become safer and prevent these accidents. The app provides feedback to its users to notify them on what they are doing wrong and how to improve, while rewarding good behavior. The app also creates profiles of the different drivers to eventually create a database of driver activity. This can be used to help drivers and autonomous vehicles predict events rather than just react to the negative events occurring. Learn more about SafeMode here.