In the world of trucking, several slang terms are key for communication. Truck driver slang is a form of coded language mostly used to describe a certain thing or situation while on the haul.
The sayings are a combination of existing words that are generally known, but used in a different context to depict a sometimes unrelated subject or event. From "10-4" affirmations to "Smokey" warnings, understanding these trucker slang terms will help you communicate effectively on the road and connect with fellow drivers.
Originally, slang in the world of trucking developed among drivers during the 70s and 80s. These drivers were users of CB radio in the United States. Trucker slang spread through CB calls, and then later to other countries such as Canada, Mexico, and Germany.
Today, truck driver slang has become as important as good coffee and a full tank of gas.. Not only does it boost camaraderie, slang helps make communication between truckers straightforward without having to use too many descriptive terms.
Knowing the slang is one thing, and understanding its usage is another. Both work hand in hand, without understanding how slang is used, new drivers might have no idea what another driver is trying to tell them..
For new truck drivers, it is essential to know and understand the context in which slang terms are used in the trucking sector.
Here is some of the most common slang used by American truck drivers, and their meanings as well.
Truck Driver Slang used to describe people and objects
- Bear - A police officer
- Papa Bear - A male police officer
- Mama Bear - A female police officer
- Baby Bear - A rookie police officer or newly badged police officer
- Polar Bear - A white unmarked police car
- Beartrap - speed trap
- Bear bite - speeding ticket
- Bear rolling disco - A police car on the speed with its siren and lights on.
- Bear Cave - The police station
- Gumball machine - A police car, specifically one with an old style, domed-shaped red rotating light mounted on the top.
- Handle - used to refer to a fellow driver while using CB
- Local yokel - A local city police officer.
- Chicken coop - A truck scale
- Hundred-mile coffee - Very strong coffee
- Flying doughnut - A police helicopter
- Wall to wall bears - A large number of police cars.
- Eye in the sky - A police aircraft such as a helicopter or plane.
Truck Driver Slang used to describe various cities, places and areas
- Taco stand - The patrol check station at the border between Mexico and the United States
- Checkpoint Charlie - A police checkpoint put in place to watch out for intoxicated drivers
- Stack of bricks - A home/house
- Eat em up - A restaurant
- Fifty dollar lane - The left-most lane in either direction of an eight-lane highway
- Choke and puke - A truck stop restaurant, that is notorious for serving bad-tasting food .
- Nap trap - A rest area
- Big Apple - New York, New York
- Bingo Town - Binghamton, New York
- Chocolate Town - Hershey, Pennsylvania
- Big D - Dallas Texas
- Derby City - Louisville, Kentucky
- Disney Town - Anaheim, California
- Ghost Town - Casper, Wyoming
- Sin City - Las Vegas
- Guitar Town - Nashville, Tennessee
- Job Town - Clinton, New jersey
CDL Slang used to describe situations
- Feeding the bear - Driving roughly or with speed.
- Go go juice - Need to get fuel.
- On one’s donkey - Following one’s vehicle closely
- Turn and burn - To return while on a journey, to the initial location
- All locked up - The weigh station is closed
- Black eye - your headlights are out
- Alligator - blown tire on the road
- Double Nickel - Driving 55 miles per hour
- Got your ears on - Are you listening or paying attention
- Peanut butter in the ear - Ignoring CB transmission
- Fox hunt - A search activity using vans and cars with fitted CB radios
- Make a flip - To turn back and go in the opposite direction
- Copy that - acknowledgement of “I understand you” while talking to other drivers through CB radio
- Back it down - Reduce driving speed
- Piggyback - A towing truck riding with another truck attached
- Smokey with a customer - A driver getting pulled by a police officer and given a speed ticket
CDL Slang used to describe vehicles
- Jimmy - A GMC road tractor
- Meat wagon - An ambulance
- Piggybank - An armoured car
- Pregnant roller skate - A Volkswagen Beetle
- Rolling refiner - A tanker truck
- K- whopper - A Kenworth Road tractor
- Peter car - A Peterbilt road tractor
- Skateboard - A straight, flatbed trailer
- Wiggle wagon - A road tractor with two or more trailers
- Thermos Bottle - Road tractor with a chemical trailer
- Yard goat/horse/mule/dog - A terminator tractor used for moving trailers in shipping and freight yard
- Scanny - A Scania truck
- Turkey hearse - A truck with a large number of turkeys
- Salt Shaker - A highway truck for applying ice melt chemicals on the road
- Reefer - A refrigerated trailer conveying a refrigerated container
- Go-Go girls on the dance floor - A livestock truck conveying pigs or cows or chicken
Slang in number form used to describe an event of things or happenings
- 10 - 4 - Used to ‘I agree’
- 10 - 8 - En route
- 3s - 8s - Warm greetings to a fellow truck driver
- 10- 33 - Emergency code to call out traffic on the transmission
- 10-36 - A code for asking for a correct time
- 10 - 100 - Signifies restroom break
- 10 - 7 - Signing off
- 10 - 9 - Used to indicate that the last transmission is not clear and should be repeated
- 10 - 200 - Signifies that the police are needed in a certain area
- 10 in the wind - Listening to a CB while driving
- 10 - 6 - Occupied; stand by
- 5 by 5 - This serves as an affirmation that another CB user is heard clearly
- 10 - 10 - This refers to when a CB user stops broadcasting but still listens in
As time goes on, new slang can be adopted, old slang can change, and different terms can be brought into use in different regions. Trucker slang will always evolve...and always make life a little easier for truck drivers everywhere..
1. Dills, Lanie(2012). CB Slanguage Language Dictionary: The official Including Cross- Reference Citizen Band Jargon from A to Z. Lanie Dills Publishing.
2. “Citizen Band (CB) Service”.Federal Communications Commission. Accessed April 10, 2021.
3. Cbslang.com - CB Slang Dictionary
4.” CB Slang and Technical Terms”. Accessed April 10,2021.