When it comes to driving cross-country, a truck driver’s radio is as important a tool as a tire iron or a GPS. Drivers have relied on Citizen’s Band (CB) radio for decades to share information and socialize while on the road. While the way drivers communicate with each other has changed thanks to cell phones, CB culture is historically a huge part of the trucking industry.
Originally intended for the military and then for taxi companies, CB radio found widespread adoption in the trucking industry in the mid-1970s. The gas crisis of 1973 triggered many changes for the industry, including a nationwide speed limit of 55 mph to help conserve fuel. Drivers used CB radios to stay in touch, alerting other drivers which gas stations had run out of fuel and if there were dangers or speed traps on the route ahead.
This early CB use built a sense of camaraderie and community that still drives the trucking industry. Fuel shortages might be gone, but drivers still have plenty to talk about, from weather and road hazards to simple friendly conversation. Of course, if you want to join the discussion, you need to know the lingo.
Breaker, breaker…here are some of our favorite CB terms.
Important CB Radio Slang
- 10-4 – message heard or received
- Alligator – strip of blown tire in the road
- Anchor clanker – boat trailer
- Antler Alley – deer crossing, or heavy deer activity
- Appliance operator – amateur CB operator (that’s you)
- Back door/Front door – rear or front of the vehicle
- Barbershop – a low overpass that might scrape a bit off the top
- Bear – police officer
- Bear bait – speeding car
- Bear in the air – police helicopter
- Brake check – traffic slowing ahead
- Break – need others to stop talking to ask a question
- Chicken choker – poultry truck
- Drop the hammer – hit the accelerator hard
- Everybody’s walking the dog – CB channels are all full of chatter
- Four-wheeler – a passenger car
- Full-grown bear – state police
- Georgia Overdrive – shifting to neutral at the top of a hill, using momentum to cruise down
- Got your ears on? – Is your CB on?
- Handle – your CB nickname
- Motion Lotion – diesel
- Mud duck – a radio with poor signal
- Over and out – conversation’s over
- Roger – yes; affirmative
- Rolling ranch – livestock truck
- Stagecoach – a passenger bus
- What’s your 20? – Where are you?
CB radio lingo is almost a language unto itself, and these terms just scrape the surface of CB culture. Before you start transmitting, you may also want to brush up on other 10-codes to quickly ask or answer common questions.
Cummins, over and out.