How Many of These Trucker Slang Words Do You Know?

EMPLOYMENT

Deborah Beckwin

6 Min Quiz

Image: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Roger that, 10-4.

You may be surprised by all the trucker slang you already know, like that phrase above, which means, "Yes, message received."

To keep in touch with each other and to alert others of road hazards (and the police), truckers use Citizens Band (CB) radio. CB radio was invented by Al Goss in 1945. Back then, it was mainly used by laborers like carpenters and plumbers, or by small businesses. Then in 1960, it became more affordable for anyone to own. CB radio use rose in popularity in the 1960s with close to 500,000 licensed CB users by 1963. Then it skyrocketed into wide use in the 1970s.

What really sparked a huge surge in CB radio use was during the 1973 energy crisis. To help with gas conservation, the U.S. federal government had implemented a 55 mph speed limit on the nation's highways. With CB radios, truckers could give each other a heads up about gas stations and if there were any smokey bears (police) prowling around as they had to still make their destinations on time.

Beyond alerting fellow truckers, CB radios were a way to be less lonely on the road and to pass the time on what can be some monotonous driving on the interstate. 

And even though we're now in the age smartphones and using apps like Waze and Trucker Tools to alert other drivers about accidents and cops, many truckers still use CB radios.

So let's stand on it and get this quiz going. Have fun and all the good numbers!

This trucker slang word is from when CB radios became very popular (back in the 1970s). What is a "double nickel"?

This piece of slang hails back to the 1970s during the oil crisis when the highway speed limit all over the country was 55 mph. It was an effort to conserve gas. These days the speed limit depends on the state you drive in.

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As you're driving by, you see a truck that is "greasy side up." What are you looking at?

Due to the higher center of gravity, big trucks are more prone to rolling over. Seeing a truck "greasy side up" will definitely get some rubberneckers and slow down traffic.

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If you're a trucker, you may use this phrase to end a conversation: "all the good numbers". Do you know what that means?

"All the good numbers" is another way to say goodbye. This is definitely more of a warm and friendly goodbye. And with how it can be lonely out there on the road, it's nice to share warm fuzzies with a fellow trucker.

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This is one type of thing on the road that you don't want to ever get near. What is a "willy weaver"?

No one likes driving near someone who is drunk. Getting an alert on the CB about a dangerous driver can help truckers to avoid a car crash. It's just another way truckers help each other to get to their destination safely.

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Depending on who you ask, these lights can be helpful or a little gaudy. What are "chicken lights"?

Some would say that these lights can be also seen as excessive or too flashy. The origin of the term is unclear, but it may have to do with trucks that haul Perdue chickens which originally had these lights.

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Congratulations! You just got a "driving award"! So what did actually you get?

What else is there to say? No one likes getting a speeding ticket, but you have to give some credit for the sarcastic humor and jokes truckers have about the less fun parts of driving.

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Truckers always have to be on the lookout for hazards and for cops. What is a "spy in the sky"?

There are places on highways that have signs about speed limits being reinforced. Sometimes those reinforcements come from on high with aerial surveillance of drivers below. They're also known as "smokey in the sky."

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If you hear someone tell you on the CB that you have a "bucket mouth," what are they saying?

CB radio etiquette is important, since so many people use it. Anyone who is vulgar or obnoxious is not welcome on the radio waves--and that includes those who use curse words.

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If you see a "cheese wagon" on the road, what are you seeing?

Trucker slang can be colorful--sometimes literally. A big yellow school bus looks like the color of cheddar. It's also a big vehicle, sometimes with children aboard, so in terms of safety and giving other truckers a heads up, identifying school buses can be helpful.

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Now you may have your own term for this type of vehicle. Do you know what a "pregnant roller skate" is?

In trucker talk, small cars are typically called "roller skates." So a "pregnant roller skate" talks about the bulbous features of this iconic car--although you may call it a "slugbug" or "punchbug."

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If you're driving a truck, you may see some weird things out on the road. What's an "alligator" mean to truckers?

If you've driven on highways, you've seen blown-out tires on the road, usually on the shoulder. For truckers, alligators can hit or get caught in their trucks and could possibly cause damage to the truck and/or an accident, so getting a heads up about them is helpful.

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You can find some things on the road that are definitely out of place. What is a "road pizza"?

It's an unfortunate part of driving, finding dead animals on the road. But if it's a big animal that's on the road, it's best to give other truckers a heads up to avoid it.

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We all have our favorite lanes to drive in. But what is the "granny lane"?

Move over, granny! The slow lane gets a little bit of a punchier name in trucker slang. And the "granny gear" is the lowest gear for driving (no offense to all grandmothers out there).

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You will probably find this to be annoying. Who or what is a "ratchet jaw"?

CB radio etiquette is a must. Someone who hogs a conversation on a channel becomes a bother. It's important to keep the CB radio waves open so other truckers can alert each other of hazards and smokies.

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If a fellow trucker tells you to "stand on it," what should you do?

Truckers have more than one way to talk about getting faster. "Stand on it" and "hammer down" are both ways to explain that you should step on it (your accelerator!).

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For truckers,"Bubba" is a specific kind of person. Do you know who "Bubba" is?

Bubba can mean different things to different people. For truckers, there's a similar fraternal affection in calling each other Bubba. It's not meant to be a derogatory nickname or a slur.

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A trucker tells you to "smile and comb your hair." What do you need to do?

Truckers are always looking out for each other when it comes to speeding. Getting a heads up about speeding when you're a trucker is important since trucks take longer to slow down.

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If you're "paying the water bill," what are you doing?

Eventually, after hours of driving, you need to take a break, get off the road to refuel your truck and your body and heed nature's call. And paying the water bill is exactly what you think it is.

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Truckers share the road with different kinds of motorists and vehicles. So what is a "salt shaker"?

Salt trucks that help make roads less slick by helping to de-ice and melt snow on the roads during in the winter. But they are also big trucks, so it's good that truckers keep an eye out for them.

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This may be a lane that, as a trucker, you'd want to avoid. What the "hundred dollar lane"?

In more populated or congested areas, you may see signs that prohibit trucks from being in the left-hand lane. This is to ensure that other motorists can have this lane free for passing. If this rule isn't followed, there can be heavy fines for the violators.

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Driving safety is a major issue for truckers. So what does "shiny side up" mean?

Rollovers are more common with trucks due to their higher centers of gravity. So being "shiny side up" is always better than "greasy side up." To that end, "Keep the shiny side up" is a wish for a safe trip.

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In your truck, you're cruising down the "boulevard"--where are you?

Although you'll occasionally see them on byways, most of the time you'll see truckers on the highway. Other nicknames for the highway are "big road" and "super slab".

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This may sound strange, but this is pretty common. You see some "Schneider eggs" on the road. What are you seeing?

So Schneider eggs have a specific origin. There is a trucking company called Schneider with trucks of the same colors as traffic cones. It's a clever way to say "traffic cones," but we're not sure what eggs have to do with it...

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You may think this is from the wild, wild west, but this really is a modern vehicle: What is a "stagecoach"?

Truckers humorously use this antiquated name for tour buses. Stagecoaches did similar things as tour buses back in the day. It's another large vehicle that truckers need to be aware of as they're driving.

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You can honestly never have too many of these. What are "green stamps"?

Talking about cash on the radio waves may be too risky. But thankfully there's a code word for that. It's just another colorful way truckers talking about everyday items.

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Sharing space on the road and the CB radio waves can be tricky sometimes. What is "sandbagging"?

Sandbagging is also known as "reading the mail." Usually, it means one's presence isn't made known to those who are talking. For truckers, this CB radio version of "lurking" can feel intrusive and rude.

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If you're going down "95th Street," where are you driving?

Truckers love using understatement for humor. For interstates, they use streets. So 65th Street would be Interstate 65, 10th Street would be Interstate 10--you get the idea.

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If you're driving and are going "through the woods," where are you going?

Although many times truckers are typically on the highway, eventually they have to leave the highway for slower surface roads. But soon, they'll be on the big road again.

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Sometime we share the roads with motorists who aren't the safest. Who do truckers call an "organ donor"?

Truckers are pulling no punches here with this slang word. Calling motorcyclists without helmets "organ donors" speaks to the high risk of suffering a fatal head injury in an accident.

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If you hear on your CB a warning about "destruction," what is actually happening?

As you can tell, truckers have a sardonic sense of humor. Although construction does require some destruction, construction sites usually mean that vehicles need to slow down so that everyone can be safe. But slower speeds can mean that truckers won't be able to get their hauls to their destinations on time.

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If you're driving and have "shutter trouble," what's wrong?

Getting tired and sleepy over long distances while driving is a big and common issue with truckers. Getting enough rest while trying to get a haul to its destination on time is the tricky balance truckers try to maintain.

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Is this really funny for a trucker? What is a "comedian"?

This median is a grassy one. And if they have a dip in them, as many of them do, sometimes you can see bears hiding out there, waiting to pull vehicles over for speeding.

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This is a trucker's domain. What is the "concrete jungle"?

Truckers have many nicknames for the highway, including big slab and big road. And when you're driving fast with a lot of cars and other kinds of vehicles of all sizes, it really can be a jungle out there...

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So if you're driving and you hit "jackpot," what really happened?

As a sarcastic way to describe a cop's flashing lights, the trucker slang word "jackpot" is also known as "gumball machine." Knowing about where police are can help truckers slow down in time.

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As you probably can guess, trucker slang rarely is literal. So do you think the "credit card machine" is?

Going through the "credit card machine" speaks to the tight spaces truckers occasionally have to pass through. Making clearances under bridges can be a harrowing experience. Driving a large truck can be tough for narrow bridges, too--with little space to maneuver.

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