Trucker Urban Legends and Superstitions

Lindsey Woods
7 minutes

Trucker Urban Legends and Superstitions

Anyone who has met a truck driver knows they are storytellers, and how could they not when they've spent so much time out in the world? It is only common sense that there are a few stories that have been passed on from driver to driver and have become famous within the community. Some are spooky, others are stories of caution, here are the most Common Trucker Urban Legends and Superstitions.

Common Trucker Superstitions

Truckers all vary in amount of superstitions, but these are the most popular.

  1. Hold your breath when passing a cemetery. If you breathe in spirits, they can possess you.
  2. Lift your feet when driving over a railroad. It's said that you can never find love if you don't.
  3. Trucks must be a female, just like sailors and their boats to keep them safe.
  4. Don't drive with a $50 bill. Joe Weatherly, NASCAR driver on his last drive crashed and died, and when he was pulled out of the car, there were 2 $50 bills in his wallet.
  5. Don't cross a highway when looking for a place to stop; bad luck will come.
  6. Don't drive in the left lane, you'll be the first one to meet a driver on the other side of the road.
  7. When you reach a destination, pat the dash and thank your truck for a job well-done and she'll keep running.
  8. When going through a yellow light, hit the roof for good luck.
  9. Hold your breath when going through a tunnel, crossing a state line, or passing a cemetery for good luck.
  10. Lucky charms; many drivers have something hanging from their rearview mirrors.
  11. Never haul empty; many flatbed truckers will tie down child's toys to their trailers because hauling empty is bad luck.

Urban Legends

The Devil's Highway
The Devil's Highway

Route 666: The Devil's Highway

This mostly abandoned stretch of road spans nearly 200 miles and it has earned its name as ‘The Devil’s Highway’. The name originates from when the highway was established back in 1926. It was the 6th branch of Route 66, and runs from Monticello, Utah and ends in Gallup, New Mexico. A multitude of unexplained phenomenon has occurred throughout the history of this road, ranging from the paranormal to disappearances and deaths. Statistically, the accidents and fatalities on Route666 are abnormally high and many believed that once you travelled on this road, you were cursed.  In 2003, due to many complaints of the connotation with ‘The Mark of the Beast’ the highway was renamed to highway491. During the time it was referred to as Route 666, each and every single accident and death was reflected as a situation that occurred because of the evil that was rumored to reside on and around this stretch of road.

A widely known story of the unexplained phenomenon that occurs on this highway is that of the Black Sedan, nicknamed Satan's Sedan. According to the story, once the sun goes down, a pair of headlights will shine behind the driver. The car gains speed and reaches the driver and remains dangerously close to them. Some witnesses said they pulled over to let them pass, while others have seen it speeding past them. Other stories that have been reported numerous times are The Hounds of Hell, an Evil Spirit of the Semi Truck, the Pale Spirit, and Skin Walkers.

Other instances that are said to have happened along this stretch is mysterious disappearances and time loss. A few reports have claimed that some drivers who travel this road have disappeared and then reappeared several hours or even days later. Others have reported that their journey down the road takes longer than expected, while others have simply vanished without a trace. None of the witnesses recall the events that have happened over their disappearances, leaving many wondering what truly happened.

Woman Hitchhiker

The Vanishing Hitchhiker

Throughout history there has been many similar reports of passengers disappearing in cars without explanation, but it wasn't until 1979 that one story gained international attention. On a late October evening in 1979, resident of Dunstable (United Kingdom) Roy Fulton stopped on the side of the road to offer a ride to a young man. The young man hopped inside Fulton's truck, but didn't say anything. Fulton asked where he wanted to go and he just pointed down the road. So they drive down the road in silence for some time until Fulton decided to offer the young man a cigarette. When he bent down to retrieve the cigarette, the boy vanished and left the driver shaken. He pulled off to the side and checked all over his truck, but the young man couldn't be found. This story "was [proved] to be one of the most chilling and convincing paranormal encounters of modern times".

Phantom 309

Phantom 309

This story is a true story rather than an urban legend. Phantom 309 became popularized when Red Sovine released the song of the same name in 1967. The song is about a ghost truck driver named 'Big Joe', who picks up a hitchhiker, gives him a dime for some coffee on him, and drops him off at a local diner down the road. The hitchhiker goes inside and tells the waitress that Big Joe sent him, where everyone goes silent. They tell the hitchhiker of the story of how Big Joe sacrificed himself to save a school bus full of children. It isn't well known though that the song is based off of an actual event.

On January 29, 1963, a trucker named John William 'Pete' Trudelle was driving a tanker to the Chelsea River Bulk Petroleum Facility north of Boston. He turned around now having 4,600 gallons of gasoline and heading to Keene, New Hampshire. He went on Route 1, but the Route 1 and Route 129 intersection is notorious for being dangerous. He went up a hill which was under a bridge, but down the road further there is a dip that is hidden from oncoming drivers. At this dip, there was a car parked waiting for a school bus to pick up children. Trudelle wouldn't be able to stop, so instead of crashing and possibly killing the children and driver, Trudelle crashed the tanker into the bridge. He was unable to escape the cap before the 4,600 gallons of gas exploded. The children and the driver of the school bus were able to escape and get to safety. Trudelle made the hard decision to sacrifice himself in order to save others.

The legend of Phantom 309 is based off of Trudelle and his sacrifice. There is a memorial of the event and Trudelle in the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.

Other Urban Legends

The Black Dog

There are many reports of black dogs on the sides of highways across the U.S. It is said that black dogs appear as a warning to drivers. If a driver is starting to doze off while driving, a black dog will appear on the side of the road. Some stories say the dog disappears and others say they just stand on the side of the road. The legend goes it that a driver was driving down the road with his dog but he dozed off and ended up in a fatal crash. Now the dog haunts weary drivers and alerts them that danger is to come.

High Beams

This story’s origin in unknown, but it starts with a young woman stopping at a gas station at night where she runs inside for something. She gets in her car and pulls back onto the highway. A truck driver that was also at the gas station follows her. As she’s driving, she notices that the driver keeps flashing his high beams at her. This continues for quite some time and the woman grows worried that she’s being followed. Finally having enough, the woman pulls off at another gas station and runs inside to tell somebody. The trucker had followed her as well and follows her inside. Worried, she demands to know what the man wants. That’s when the driver says, ‘There’s a killer in your backseat. Every time he raised his weapon up, I flashed my lights and he would crouch back down’. That’s when the woman looks into the backseat of her car and sees a man lying in wait. This story is more of a wives' tale, and shows that there are good Samaritan drivers on the road as well.

No Parking

Cemeteries give most people the creeps, and for good reason. A common superstition around cemeteries is to hold your breath when passing and not standing on headstones. This story however talks about a driver who pulls off to the side of the road for a night’s sleep. The driver went through a small town and on the outskirts, he passed by a cemetery. He finds a spot and goes to sleep without problem, but is awoken at 3 a.m. by a loud bang. The trucker looks around, but nothing is inside the truck. Then another bang hits the driver side door. The driver looks out the window and sees nothing. Suddenly the whole truck starts to shake violently. The shaking subsides, and the driver thinks he’s in the clear until he hears the doors unlock. The passenger door opens and he hears something climb in. The cab lights turn on and when the driver looks in front of the seat, nobody’s there.

There are many stories that drivers have told. Anything from the paranormal to the extraterrestrial, drivers have seen and been through a lot, and shared their experiences.

Listen to the latest podcast, Trucker Superstitions and Urban Legends with Bruce Pritcher (Oct 29)!

Have any scary stories yourself? Send them to us below!

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