Regional Slangs of Truckers

By shivam → Saturday, 4 February 2017
Truck drivers once had a highly elaborate and colorful vocabulary of slang for use over their CB radios, but with the high turnover in the industry in recent decades, this has all but vanished. Most of the newer generation of drivers in the U.S. today speak to one another over their CB radios (or other similar communication devices) in more or less standard English (as understood in the various regions of the country), although a few of the slang words and phrases have remained, and many of these have passed into use in the colloquial language of the general public.

"Smokey" and/or "bear" are still used to refer to police officers , especially state patrolmen, and sometimes "diesel bear" for a DOT officer, though many new-school drivers merely say "police," "policeman" and "cop." "Hammer" refers to the accelerator pedal, and "hammer lane" the left lane or passing lane on a freeway, in which traffic generally travels faster. "Handle", meaning a nickname, was once exclusively truck-driver slang, but has now passed into common use by the public, especially for pseudonyms used on Internet forums.
Most of the "ten codes" have fallen nearly or completely into disuse, except "10/4," meaning "message received," "affirmative," "okay," "understood," and occasionally "10/20," referring to the driver's location, (e.g., "What's your 20?")

Often older truck drivers speaking over their CB radios are frustrated at new-school truck drivers' lack of understanding of the trucking slang of the '60s, '70s and '80s, and grudgingly resort to standard English when communicating with them. However today the slang is mostly gone, and some companies such as Swift Transportation consider the CB a safety hazard and prohibit the installation of a CB radio in their tractors.

  • alligator/'gator – a section of tire casing constituting a hazard
  • barbershop – a bridge lower than 13' 6" [4m 11 cm] (standard minimum height on all Interstates and state highway systems with controlled-access designation) that could scrape off the top portions of a tractor-trailer rig
  • big sign – the "Closed" sign for weigh stations
  • bull wagon – truck and trailer hauling live stock
  • customer – police with someone pulled over [77]
  • bobtail – tractor with no trailer
  • chicken hawk – a male prostitute
  • city kitty – a city police.
  • cab-over – truck designed with the cab positioned over the engine, instead of behind it
  • coloring book/comic book – terms used to describe the HOS paper log, this stems from the days of multiple logs prior to electronics.
  • comeback? – What? I beg your pardon? Could you repeat that, please?
  • coop – (re: "chicken coop") a weigh station, due to the resemblance of the small offices to chicken coops
  • county mountie – a constable, county sheriff or sheriff's deputy (from earlier slang for "mounted policeman", a policeman on horseback)
  • deadhead – a tractor pulling an empty trailer; miles covered while pulling an empty trailer are called "deadhead miles"
  • double-nickel – 55 mph [90 km/h] (in more common use during the 1974–87 era of the National Maximum Speed Law; the U.S. five-cent coin is popularly [though not officially] called a "nickel" because of its metallic content)
  • dummy book – a pamphlet or brochure explaining truck-driver slang, usually distributed at truck stops in the 70s and 80s and in a few bookstores (this list would be called a "dummy book")
  • four-wheeler – a passenger vehicle, even a pickup truck
  • full grown – state trooper or DMV officer
  • Freightshaker – Freightliner Trucks
  • granny lane – the lane farthest to the right usually designated for slower traffic
  • hammer lane – the lane farthest to the left
  • hammer down – traveling extremely fast
  • in the middle – parked on the median, usually the location of a speed trap or broken-down vehicle
  • in the face – associated with a police pointing your direction (shooting you) using radar
  • kitty smirk – when a female truck driver flirts with a male truck driver
  • little sign – the "Open" sign for weigh stations, also referred to as "the little word"
  • lot lizard – a prostitute, especially one that frequents truck stops
  • on your back door – a vehicle behind you, commonly referred to as "on your tail"
  • parking lot – an auto-transport truck, usually referred to as a "portable parking lot"
  • piggy bank/cash box – a toll plaza
  • pickle park – a state highway rest area
  • plain wrapper – unmarked law enforcement vehicle, most commonly referred to with the color of the wrapper such as a "plain brown wrapper"
  • porch light – light on the back of the truck
  • Smokey Bear – a police officer, used because of the resemblance between police officer's campaign hat, and that of the Forest Service's Smokey Bear mascot, commonly just referred to as a bear
  • shooting you – a law-enforcement officer using any speed-detection device or radar gun, example: "shooting you in the face", or "shooting you up the exhaust" (from the rear)
  • six wheeler – any vehicle with single rear axle with dual tires
  • skateboard – a flatbed trailer
  • taking pictures – a law-enforcement officer using any speed-detection device or radar gun, but most commonly when using a camera radar.
  • tanker yanker – a tanker rig or its driver
  • train – a rig pulling double/triple trailers
  • yardstick – a mile marker
  • the zipper – the dashed lane markings

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