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CB Radio Codes You Must Learn On The Road

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CB radios are a classic technology that still feels relevant. They are also a great way to communicate on the road or save on a cell phone bill. When you are shopping for your first CB radio, it's important to understand how to install and operate the device. Even more important is deciphering the language coming through your speakers. With so much jargon on the CB radio, it can sound like a foreign language.

Understanding the five following CB radio communication categories is a great starting point for your time on the road. Whether you communicate with other drivers, truckers, or co-workers, the following phrases can really come in handy.

City Nicknames

Instead of just calling out the city you're in or heading towards, truckers will often use nicknames. Some of the biggest cities like New York (The Big Apple) and Chicago (The Windy City) have obvious nicknames, but some others may be harder to figure out.

  • Bikini: Named after the numerous beaches, the term "bikini" often refers to Miami, Florida. Along with Miami, Tampa has the nickname Cigar City.
  • Guitar: This is one name given to Nashville, the home of country music. It can also be referred to as "Music City"
  • The Nickel: When traveling in upstate New York, the phrase "The Nickel" refers to the city of Buffalo. A few states over, truckers will refer to Boston as "Bean Town."

The 10 Codes

It's pretty common knowledge that "10-4" is a confirmation code, but the use of "10" with a number is expanded far beyond the initial use. If you're hearing a lot of numbers spouted on the CB radio, then you are liking hearing a variety of 10 codes. Some examples include:

  • 10-9: This code asks a driver to repeat the previous message. If the person is talking too fast, a "10-11" may be added to the full code.
  • 10-20: This represents a location. For example, you may say "10-20 Bean Town." This translates to "My location is Boston."
  • 10-33: This is a code to signal a traffic disturbance or alert. It will typically follow with more detailed information and locations.

Traffic Jargon

A CB radio is mostly used on the road and a lot of traffic jargon has been created because of it. The following phrases represent a number of different traffic conditions.

  • Stagecoach: This term refers to large buses or tour groups on the road.
  • Through the Woods: Instead of taking an Interstate, this phrase means that the trucker is taking back roads for the journey.
  • Skateboard: Refers to a flatbed truck.
  • Sand Bagging and Reading the Mail: This refers to a time when truckers are going to use their music radio instead of communicating on the CB radio.
  • Pay the Water Bill: A quick phrase used to indicate a rest stop or bathroom break.

Road Hazards

Similar to traffic communications, there are many road hazards that truckers will talk about. The following phrases are typically followed by a detailed location of the traffic incident.

  • Alligator: This represents a piece of tire on the road. This is typically from a popped or blown up tire.
  • Back Door: The back door refers to an area directly behind the trucker.
  • Mash Your Motor: An all-clear signal that means truckers can increase speed on the road.
  • Hundred Dollar Lane: This refers to driving lanes where trucks are prohibited.
  • Cash Register: A signal that a toll booth is near.

Police Codes

Being on the lookout for traffic enforcement officers is a big part of driving and communicating on the CB. A variety of codes and phrases refer to the police.

  • Bear: A nickname for a police officer.
  • Evil Knievel: A police officer riding on a motorcycle.
  • Plenty of Protection: A phrase indicating that a lot of police officers are in the area.

When you purchase a CB radio, check with the manual to see other lists of common phrases and codes.