Do cabbies have their own communication language?

taxi cab roof light

10-4 rubber duck was a famous trucker saying around the 80s. But were talking about taxi drivers (cabbies) and, their worldwide two-way radio communication system. The question is, do cabbies have their own communication language, YES or NO.?

In short, all the people using this two- way communication device should practice the 10-4 code of conduct, that includes cab drivers.  It was designed to save many words and confusion to the person listening on the other end. A person is trying to decipher the mumbled words coming through the airwaves, and it’s easier to use the 10-4 code.

10-4 means “everybody, nod your head, yes” that “YOU UNDERSTAND.”

author with a coronavirus on maskUnlike truckers, with their sometimes septic type talk, Taxi Drivers (LINK) have to sound a little more professional on their communication devices. Truckers slang, “Choking Your Chicken,” would not be something you would translate to your taxi company dispatcher, especially with paying customers in the back.

This truckers CB slang is self-explanatory, and they have more nasties they have originated for their trade. But through all fairness, it’s only between two truckers “ratchet mouthing back and forth” talking in their own “language.”

A proper code of conduct starts here.

The ten-four code system is credited initially to Illinois State Police Communications Director Charles Hopper. He created this handy system around 1937–40, for use in radio communications among their city cops.

The code used by all professional people was designed to save a lot of words through a conversation. 10-4 means, I understand, 10-98 means I finished my last assignment.

Taxi cabbies use that same code, but some-what different.

The illustration at the bottom describes some of the differences used between the t industries or departments.

So, whether it’s an FM system CB or a ham radio, the 10-4 code still applies.

Anyone who uses these handy two-way radio devices had a code of conduct they abide by, but the story here is about some of the 10-4 cabby talk that has been somewhat changed to suit the industry’s conditions.

10-4 is an affirmative signal: it means “OK.”I understand… “so far.”

The two-way communication system seemed to flourish from the very beginning. The expression “10-4” further spread into popular culture when it was featured in C. W. McCall’s 1975 song “Convoy,” where he uses trucker CB radio slang like breaker one-nine (a radio channel used by truckers) and 10-4… The song went number one on the US and abroad charts and was even made into a movie in 1978.

The power of media, eh!

10-4 has shown up in hip-hop lyrics, too, like GhostfaceKillah’s 2004 “Beat the Clock,” where he raps: “…ten four, may day-may day / Callin’ all cars, callin’ all cars.” This use is inspired by 10-4 in cop-speak.

The famous trucker movie “Smoky and the Bandit” renowned saying was, “10-4 good buddy.”

The fad caught on so well, especially with the truckers, and private CB clubs were popping up everywhere. Some newer big trucks come with standard state of the art CB equipment. This CB handy two-way communication system became so popular that our government decided to cash in on the culture and regulate the airways. They had the airwave police department watching and listening.

Well, again, I’m not sure if that part was correct. Scare tactics at best, to get the user to pay for an ID number, and it had to be renewed every year. A “Cash Cow,” we call it, eh!

As Hollywood is glamorizing the two-way 10-4 movement, the handy devices hold an essential purpose …communication between two parties…

Read More Tazi Driver Tales CLICK HERE

As I said, it turned into a real fad and is still widely used by mobile imitations for communication—truckers, marine military and yes, even taxi drivers.

So, if these two- way devises are appropriately used, they save many words when communicating with somebody on the other end.

OK, now you got a 10-4 rubber duck thing down.

Do cabbies have their own 10-4 language? Yeah, Somewhat!

Sorry readers, I have to go 10-100. (Bathroom)

Example of the 10-4 Taxi language

Dispatcher;     Car #54 … what’s your 10-20… do you copy?

Tax1 #54:       Yeah, 10-4 I copy I just had 10-98 and now have to go 10-100, and will get right back to you…10-4

Dispatcher;     Copy that! 10-4

SPECIAL NOTE ; Did you know if you see that pretty orange light flashing on the front or rear of a Taxi Cab, THAT MEANS “He’s in trouble?”

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Check below for the 10-4 codes in different industries

Most used by Taxi Drivers

10 Codes

  • 10-1 Receiving Poorly
  • 10-2 Receiving Well
  • 10-3 Stop Transmitting
  • 10-4 Acknowledgement
  • 10-5 Relay
  • 10-6 Busy
  • 10-7 Out of Service
  • 10-8 In-Service
  • 10-9 Repeat
  • 10-10 Out of Service / Subject to call
  • 10-11 transmitting too rapidly
  • 10-12 Visitors Present
  • 10-13 Road / Weather condition
  • 10-20 What’s Your Location
  • 10-98 Finished Last Assignment


  • 10-14 Escort
  • 10-15 En Route with Prisoner
  • 10-17 Pick-up Papers
  • 10-18 Complete Assignment ASAP
  • 10-19 Return to Station
  • 10-20 What’s Your Location
  • 10-21 Call Your Station by Telephone
  • 10-21B Call Your home
  • 10-22 Cancel Last Message
  • 10-23 Standby
  • 10-25 Do you have contact with _____?
  • 10-28 Registration Request
  • 10-29 Check for Stolen
  • 10-30 Subject is Not Wanted
  • 10-31 Subject has a record
  • 10-32 Subject is Wanted
  • 10-32F Subject wanted – Felony
  • 10-33 Standby, Emergency Traffic Only
  • 10-34 Resume Normal Radio Traffic
  • 10-35 Confidential Information
  • 10-36 Correct Time
  • 10-39 Message Delivered
  • 10-42 Pick Up Officer
  • 10-45 Service Your Equipment
  • 10-49 Proceed to (that place)
  • 10-86 Traffic Check
  • 10-97 Arrived
  • 10-98 Finished Last Assignment
  • 10-100 Restroom Break

In 1979, APCO created the Phrase Word Brevity Code

Used By Mostly Military Alpha Codes

Alpha J – Juliett U – Uniform

B – Bravo K – Kilo V – Victor

C – Charlie L – Lima W – Whiskey

D – Delta M – Mike X – X-ray

E – Echo N – November Y – Yankee

F – Foxtrot O – Oscar Z – Zulu

G – Golf R – Romeo


10-4 good buddy

10-4 rubber duck

Choking your chicken

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The two way code illustration complements from this address, Check here for more communication information.

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