Quiz: Do You Know These Trucker Codes?: HowStuffWorks
Do You Know These Trucker Codes?
By: Ian Fortey
7 Min Quiz
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Careful if you drive too fast because you might end up feeding the bears. What does that mean?
Feeding the bears is a cute way to refer to paying a fine or a ticket. The bears are police, so when a cop pulls you over and gives you a ticket, you're feeding them when you get around to paying it off.
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On a nice, quiet drive, you hear someone ask if you've got your ears on. What does that mean?
Even though CB radio seems like a bit of a zoo at times, there are still some etiquette and rules involved. When you want to speak to someone, you don't just start blabbing on a channel; you can ask if anyone is listening by asking if they have their ears on. You can also just say "break channel."
What are you going to tell someone who asks what your handle is?
Handle is another ubiquitous term that has evolved beyond CB usage ad turns up on places like Twitter. Your handle is your codename, the cool name you thought up for yourself. The term dates back to the 1870s when you'd add a handle like "sir" to your name in the way you'd add a handle to an axe. Just a little something extra.
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A trucker just told you to get in the granny lane. What do they mean?
On most highways, the left lane is the fast lane, and the right lane is the slow lane. People pass on the left, and the right is where, no offense to all the grandmothers out there, the grannies do their driving.
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Telling a friend you'll catch them on the backslide means what exactly?
Backslide is a term that refers to the return leg of a trip. It's kind of a curious term to use since, in every other context, a backslide is a bad thing. It's used to refer to relapsing into bad behavior and, in a religious context, to forgetting faith and backsliding into sin.
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A trucker has to pull over for a meat-wagon. What does that mean?
Any driver knows to pull over when a meat wagon is on the way, but it's just that we don't all call them meat wagons. Meat wagon is a bit of an insensitive slang term for an ambulance. When the sirens are on, you should pull over and let them pass.
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You might want to ease up on the gas if there are ground clouds about. Do you know what ground clouds are?
Ground clouds are what you call an accumulation of fog thick enough to be noteworthy. Truckers tend to look out for each other and can quickly communicate issues like weather with poor visibility to others who might be coming down the road.
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Do you know what a hairpin is?
You may have heard the term "hairpin turn" before, and that's what we're talking about here. It's a sharp curve in the road, and it's dangerous to take at high speeds, especially if you're driving a huge truck that could risk flipping over.
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What does it mean when you're doing a double nickel?
When you're doing a double nickel, you're driving at 55 miles per hour. In 1974, the federal government passed a law that mandated the maximum speed on any interstate to be 55 miles per hour in response to the 1973 oil embargo. That's changed since, but for a time, everyone was doing double nickles.
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You're headed to the Sticker Patch. Where are you going?
The Sticker Patch is a nickname for Phoenix, Arizona, not because of decals and anything sticky per se but because of the local plant life. Sticker Patch is a reference to the cacti you can find all across the landscape around Phoenix.
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Mud isn't just wet sludge on the road. What else does it mean?
A cup of mud may be just the thing to perk you up first thing in the morning or after a few hours on the road. It's a slang term for coffee, and you can assume, based on the choice of words, that it's not in reference to particularly good quality coffee.
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Your buddy just signed off for a 10-100. What's going on?
The 10 code is pretty common among truckers, and most people are at least familiar with the term "10-4," which has made its way into everyday language as a way to agree with or acknowledge you've heard someone. 10-100, however, is what you say when you need to hit up the bathroom.
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Another truck just let you know there's a free truck wash ahead. What's going on?
It may not be the smartest thing you ever heard, but a free car wash is just another way to say there's some rain ahead. You can also tell someone that they're going to be washing their windows if there's a rainstorm.
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If a trucker's skirts are flapping in the wind, what's happening?
Sometimes a load on a flatbed truck needs to be secured with tarps, so they stay clean and dry. That said, if a tarp comes loose during travel, it's going to be flapping in the breeze sort of like a skirt in the wind. It's also pretty dangerous and should be fixed.
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If it seems like someone is boosting their CB signal, what might they be using?
When someone uses a linear amplifier to boost their signal, they're using a kicker. Generally, that's an illegal way to boost a radio signal, and most truckers and CB users aren't cool with it. Its often done by stationary users, though, who have a home-based setup.
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If the hammer is down, what's going on?
Any reference to a hammer almost always refers to the gas pedal and speed. If the hammer is down, your foot is down, and you're going fast. Likewise, the hammer lane is the fast lane on the left side of the road.
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Truckers haul all kinds of things, but what does it mean when you're hauling fencepost holes?
Once you offload whatever you're shipping, then you have an empty truck, right? If you don't have another load to pick up, then you're hauling fencepost holes, which is a fancy way of saying nothing, your truck is empty.
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Where are you if you roll up on the parking lot at Wally World?
This is not exclusively trucker slang by any means but often used by truckers because of its universality. Wally World is a slang term for Walmart because, unlike many regional stores, Walmart can be found almost everywhere.
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You're hauling cargo across the country and decide it's time to go "through the woods." What are you doing?
Nearly all trucks drive on the main highways and interstates because it's fast and convenient, of course. When you leave the interstate, you're now heading through the woods, a reference to "Over the River and Through the Woods."
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Sometimes you get a tough guy on the radio so you might call him which of these?
A radio tough-guy is known as a Rambo, obviously after the Sylvester Stallone movies. This is a lot like what happens when someone talks tough on the internet since it's all done at a safe distance, and no one ever has to back it up in real life.
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A choke and puke sounds like a bad thing, but what is it?
Truck stops aren't always renowned for their high quality, so when you get to a low-quality one, you might call it a choke and puke. That's a reference to trying to force yourself to eat the food that they provide.
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Boston is Bean Town, Chicago is the Windy City, but what is Queen City?
There's no big secret behind the reason Charlotte is called Queen City. The city was named after Queen Charlotte, wife of England's King George III. It's a pretty common nickname for the city and isn't just exclusive to truckers.
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If you're 10-8 to your stack of bricks, what's going on?
This is an advanced one because we're throwing two at you here. 10-8 is a 10 code for being en route somewhere while stack of bricks is just a slang term for your own house. So if you're 10-8 to your stack of bricks, it means you're heading home.
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You just got a job that's going to send you to the Bikini State. Where are you going?
If truckers can give something a nickname, they absolutely will give it a nickname. Most major cities have them, and so do states. Florida is what they call the Bikini State, and as nicknames go, it's a pretty self-explanatory one.
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If a trucker gives you a 10-7, what do they mean?
Part of the 10 code that can cover a lot of different messages in a simple way, a 10-7 is the code you use to let someone know you are signing off the radio completely. That's different than a 10-10, which means you'll be on the radio still but not talking.
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Ever seen a truck hauling cattle? What's another term for that kind of truck?
Any truck that's hauling livestock from chickens to cows to horses can be called a portable barnyard because that's technically what they are. You want to avoid getting stuck behind one as they don't tend to smell that great.
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Do you know what term you'd use to describe someone who is listening to a CB conversation but not participating?
Someone is said to be sandbagging if they're just listening to the conversation but not participating in it. For this term to be used properly, the person sandbagging has to have the ability to speak, but they're just choosing not to.
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Do you know another term for snowplows?
Snowplows are referred to as salt shakers sometimes since part of their job is to salt the roads as they go. It's always good to see one on the road clearing the way, but on the other hand, it can suck to get stuck behind a slow one.
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What's your buddy telling you if they let you know someone spilled honey on the road?
This one goes back to the bear thing again, with cops being referred to as bears. Thank to Winnie the Pooh, we all know that bears love honey, so if someone spilled honey on the road, there would be bears, or in this case, cops, everywhere.
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Which of these is a term you might use to refer to tire chains?
Tire chains are illegal in a lot of places, but in others, they're considered a necessity for gaining traction when you're on an icy or snowy road. When you don't feel like referring to them as tire chains or snow chains, you can just call them jewelry.
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The last thing you want to be on the radio is a mud duck. Do you happen to know what that means?
Mud ducks are CBers who have weak signals and can't really be heard by anyone else as a result. Despite that, they keep trying to talk, which leads to them making noise on a channel and just being a nuisance.
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What might you call a car that blazes past you, weaving and bobbing erratically down the road?
When another driver is speeding or being erratic on the road, you might be inclined to call them bear bait. That plays off of some already established trucker slang, which refers to police officers as bears. Therefore, bear bait is someone baiting a cop with their erratic driving.
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You can head to Sesame Street if you're a trucker, but what does it mean?
Some people refer to channel 19 on the radio as Sesame Street, and it's often the busiest channel in any given region. It's an excellent place to find someone to talk to if you're new in the area. Channel 22, sometimes called the Two-Two Zoo, is also popular in many areas.
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What does it mean when something is 5 by 5?
You may have heard the term "5 by 5" in movies before; it's famous from "Aliens," for instance. It comes from a military background and refers to signal strength and signal clarity rated on a scale of one to five. A 5 by 5 signal is strong and clear.
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You're going through a town and there's a stationary user who just won't stop talking. What's a way to describe that?
Someone who just can't seem to stop talking is referred to as being an alligator radio or alligator station. Why an alligator? Because, like an alligator, the person seems to be all mouth and no ears when they're on the radio.
The world of truckers and CB radio came into the public eye in the 1970s and has been a fascinating sort of subculture ever since. The language they use is funny and weird to outsiders, but is it that different from any other niche group that has their own lingo? Everyone from hockey players to scientists to tech geeks has their own specialized slang that sounds like gibberish to people on the outside, so why not truckers? It just so happens that truckers do it over the radio, and they really double down on the code names for some of the most colorful conversations you'll ever hear. It makes sense when you think about it. Wouldn't you want to make every conversation a little more interesting if you were alone in a truck for hours at a time driving across the country?
If you're the kind of person who knows what we mean when we talk about a County Mount and how that's different from a Kojak with a Kodak or an angry kangaroo from a dragon wagon, then this is definitely the quiz for you. So why not settle into that beaded seat cover and tune up your CB handle and take the quiz!
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