Jun 08

The Language Of Trucking

Every profession and social group has its own list of specialized terms: words that are only used by them, or common words that they use in unconventional ways. This kind of vocabulary has many names, including slang, lingo, argot, and so on. One of the most notorious examples of a professional vocabulary is the clever and often humorous terminology used by truck drivers.

Trucking slang as we know it today first became popular in the 1960s, when trucking companies began using CB radios so their drivers could communicate while on the road. These drivers soon began developing their own code words, perhaps so they could have private conversations on public channels and perhaps just for entertainment on long drives. When private drivers began installing CB radios in their cars just for fun in the 1970s, some of these words became widely known across the country.

These days trucking specific terms are not as common as they once were. This has been blamed on the fact that drivers often do not stay in that field as long as they used to. This phenomenon may be part of a larger cultural and economic trend: many modern young people work a variety of jobs over their lifetimes, instead of picking one career and company and staying with it. As a result, many truck drivers simply do not stay in that job long enough to learn and pass on these terms.

Despite these changes, interest in trucking lingo remains. Many people consider it an interesting, and sometimes very funny way to communicate while traveling. Although CB radios are no longer found in very many cars, people continue to use some of these terms while communicating with walkie talkies or even cell phones. These unusual words certainly can add a certain liveliness to nearly any discussion.

Popular Trucking Terms

Some of the following terms are still used by some truck drivers, while others have made their way into popular use, and still others have become more or less obsolete. You may want to try including some of these terms in your next conversation, just to see what people make of them:

10/4 The most commonly used CB term. As you probably know, it means I understand.
Bear A police officer (short for Smokey the Bear.)
Double nickel Fifty five miles per hour, used to describe the speed limit
Roller skate A smaller, private vehicle
Penalty box The stations where trucks are weighed and inspected
Travel agent The trucking companys dispatcher

Although the language may have changed, driving a commercial truck remains an interesting and usually reliable career option. If you are interested in becoming involved in this important industry, learning a little about its long established culture may be beneficial.


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