Talking the Talk – Trucker Slang

It takes a special type of person to be a trucker. Despite the long hours spent alone, there is a community out there on the highway. Anywhere truck drivers meet and talk (rest stops, roadside restaurants, or over Citizen’s Band radio chatter) they express their camaraderie through a special language. Trucker slang has changed since the Smokey and the Bandit movies made it famous in the 1970s, but it remains a “code of the brotherhood (or increasingly, sisterhood)” of truck drivers.

It’s a unique and entertaining form of language. Here is an abridged guide to some of the more entertaining euphemisms you might hear out on the road:

Alligator – a piece of a tire that’s lying in the road. Looks like a little like a resting reptile.
Back door – behind you. Eg. “I’m knocking at your Back Door”
Bambi – a deer, dead or alive. Moose is a “Swamp Donkey”
Bear – law enforcement officer
Bedbuggers – moving companies
Bobtail – tractor with no trailer attached. Verb for is “bobtailing”
Brake check – when traffic slows for no apparent reason
Bumper sticker – a tailgater
Chicken coop – weigh station
Covered wagon – a gravel truck with a tarp on top of it’s load
Dead head – to haul an empty truck. Usually unpaid.
Double Nickel – 55 mph speed limit
Flip-flop – a U-turn
Four-wheeler – any vehicle not a truck or bus
Granny lane – the right, or “slow” lane
Parking lot – a truck hauling cars in a “piggy back” trailer
Reefer – refrigerated cargo trailer
Roller skate – a small car
Skins – tires
Stagecoach – a tour bus
Thermos bottle – a tanker trailer
Yard – the parking lot at a drivers company eg. “Sitting in the yard ready to go.”
Yardstick – kilometer or kilometer marker on a major highway
Wearing out your bumper – tailgating

By no means is this an exhaustive list. At First Class Training Centre we’ve got more than half a century of combined experience in the business to draw on, and we will help you find out everything you need to know about the trucking industry, including the language. If you’re interested in finding out if truck driving is the career for you, contact us online or call Toll Free (1-(855) 632-5302. In Winnipeg call 204-632-5302.