What Does Breaker 1-9 Mean?

If you’re like most, you probably don’t know what breaker 1-9 means. This article will explain what the phrase means and how to use it.

Many Hollywood movies include the phrase “Breaker 1-9” and many similar ones. These phrases are mostly used among truck drivers and signify different actions or concerns on each occasion. They fall into the category of CB slang that was created shortly after the invention of the CB radio.

Breaker 1-9 is a polite way to cut through a conversation on a specific CB radio channel. Channel 19 is the most probable frequency where the phrase is heard. Generally, the expression is to place a concern, warn drivers nearby of a hazard or ask a question.

I will explain further.

What is a CB Radio

channel and frequency table
Video | 26CT1994

Before explaining the phrase “Breaker 1-9”, familiarizing yourself with some background information is crucial.

“CB Radio” stands for Citizens Band Radio. They were first introduced in 1948 for citizens’ personal communications. Nowadays, CB radios consist of 40 channels, 2 of which operate on the highway. They can cover distances of up to 15 miles (24 km).

Their use is mostly for informing other drivers of the following:

  • Weather conditions
  • Road conditions or hazards
  • Speed traps of hidden law enforcement troopers
  • Open weigh stations and checkpoints (this applies to truck drivers)

Or even asking for advice and assistance with flat tires or any other issue.

The two largely utilized channels are Channel 17 and Channel 19. Channel 17 is open to all drivers on eastbound and westbound roads.

What is Channel 19

Range channel 19
Video | Mark Truett

Channel 19 is also called the “Truckers’ Channel.”

While the one preferred for the highway was initially the 10th channel, Channel 19 operated predominantly on northbound and southbound roads. However, since the users didn’t experience adjacent-channel interference issues, Channel 19 became the new highway frequency.

Even though this particular channel is the most common for truckers and can be proven useful, some companies consider that truckers on Channel 19 might be a bit abusive. To prevent such cases, they use private channels.

Still, most travelers and truckers use Channel 19 to communicate.

What Do They Mean By “Breaker 1-9”

Most people are familiar with this phrase because it is widely mentioned in Hollywood movies.

When travelers or truck drivers need to speak on Channel 19, they need a signal to help others understand that someone needs to talk on the channel. To do so politely, one can open the microphone and say: Breaker 1-9.

When other drivers speaking on the radio hear that signal, they know someone is trying to communicate and stop their conversations to listen to them. Then, the one trying to communicate with other drivers can speak without someone interrupting them, nor fearing interrupting another conversation.

In most cases, many other slang phrases and hidden messages follow “Breaker 1-9”. We will list them below.

Other Common Phrases That You Might Hear on Channel 19

Cobra channel 19
Video | rigsearch

When opening Channel 19, you might think about what to say after “Breaker 1-9”.

Citizens Band Radio slang can be tricky for someone that hasn’t been driving for long. However, we have equipped this article with a few phrases to get you started.

1. Alligator

An alligator is a piece of tire found on the ground.

These can be a hazard to other cars or trucks and cause accidents. They can cause damage to belts, fuel crossover lines, and the vehicle’s body.

You might also hear the phrases “baby alligator” and “alligator bait.” “baby alligator” is used to describe a small tire piece, while “alligator bait” for several small pieces scattered across the road.

2. Bear

The word “bear” is used to describe law enforcement officers. It can mean that a State Trooper or Highway Patrol is nearby checking traffic and speed.

Similarly to the alligator, this slang word also has a few alterations. A “bear in the bushes” means an officer is hidden, possibly with a radar gun to oversee traffic. A “bear in the air” refers to an aircraft or drone used to observe speeding for law enforcement.

The “bird dog” is an additional phrase that refers to radar detectors.

4. Other Phrases

Finally, there are some additional phrases to help drivers.

  • Black eye, to warn someone has a headlight out
  • Break check, to inform others there is traffic up ahead
  • Back door, to tell someone there is something behind them.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

Video References


Mark Truett


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About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
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Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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