Semi-truck drivers have an incredibly tough job. They spend long hours in isolation, never being able to completely relax due to the miles of road ahead of them. Driving on some of the loneliest roads in the country means they come across some pretty strange situations, some of which have become urban legends.
Rarely can we trace the origin of an urban legend, but they are usually the result of an experience which can’t be simply explained. Some involve creepy hitchhikers, strange looking creatures, or even unidentified flying objects. One element they share in common is they all play on our deepest, darkest fears.
It is exactly that reason why truckers are often hesitant to repeat these stories of the road. Driving hundreds of miles late at night can make your mind start to play tricks on you and stories such as these are the last thing anyone wants to contemplate as they’re driving down a desolate road alone.
Some of these tales recant some truly spooky tales which others serve to explore experiences that are unexplained. They get repeated at truck stops, in diners, and shared on internet forums. Some of them travel across the world, ensuring they will live on forever.
Despite how much truckers wish these tales would fade away, the human fascination with the creepy, the pervasive, and the unexplained is too strong to ignore. So here are 20 urban legends that truckers wish would go away. Just don’t read them with the lights out!
We seem to be in the golden age of conspiracy theories. As if to prove this point, it’s impossible for a major news story to break without people rushing to label it a conspiracy theory or some kind of false flag. When a 100-truck conv0y was spotted heading down an interstate highway in the USA with a police escort, the internet lit up with comments from people who thought they were witnessing the government secretly transporting equipment. The media also picked up the story, adding fuel to the fire. It turned out, though, that it was a fundraiser for athletes who compete at the Special Olympics and it happens annually. But every year, the story gets rehashed and people wonder what the mysterious convoy is really doing.
One of the oldest urban legends that still persists to this day prays on most truck drivers' sensitivities. Truck drivers are some of the kindest-hearted people so it’s little wonder they hate hearing this story. Late at night, a truck driver notices someone on the side of the road trying to hitch a ride. They are miles from anywhere, so the trucker stops to give them a ride. During the ride, the conversation is short but pleasant and they arrive at the hitchhiker’s destination. As the truck driver turns to bid their passenger farewell, they find that they’ve vanished from the truck. Several variations on this tale exist and it’s still a popular urban legend today.
The origin of this creepy tale is unknown but one night a businessman was returning home from an interstate trip. It was late at night and the air was filled with a thick fog. As he’s driving he notices a trucker crouched at the side of the road, examining his wheel. The businessman stops to ask if he needs help but the trucker gets back into his truck and drives off. A little farther down the road, the businessman notices the trucker has pulled over again. Stopping a second time to see what is the matter, the trucker again gets in his truck and drives away. A few minutes later, he arrives home, a journey that should have taken an hour. Who was the mysterious truck driver?
A trucker was on his nightly delivery route when suddenly he saw a HUGE figure flying straight toward him. Fearing a collision with the windshield, the driver ducked below the dash. As he did, he heard a loud thud above the cab of the truck. He slammed on the brakes and got out to see what he had hit. Behind the truck, he saw a man-sized figure laying at the side of the road. He walked over when, suddenly, it jumped up on two legs and flew off. Panicking, the driver ran back to the truck and drove to the next gas station before stopping to examine the damage. The creature had left bat shaped wing prints six feet across.
Another late-night tale describes a trucker driving through a desolate part of the highway outside of Los Angeles. As he rounds the top of a hill, he notices a Red Buick stopped in the middle of the road and a man and a woman, both laying face down on the road. As he eases towards the scene, something doesn’t feel right. The trucker decides to inch past the car and pulls over to survey the scene. As he checks his mirror, he sees the two people now on their knees and around 20 more people have emerged from the side of the road and are walking towards his truck. He got out of there immediately, knowing he had dodged a bad situation.
Truck drivers are very superstitious about parking near a cemetery and this scary story explains why. A truck driver was scheduled to stop and sleep but had just rolled past a cemetery a couple of miles back. Not wanting to drive further, he pulled up off the road and crawled into the sleeper cab, quickly falling asleep. Around 3 am, he was woken up by somebody pounding on the side of the cab. The banging was so loud that he could feel the cab shaking. He looked through the windows and checked all the mirrors and there was nobody to be seen. Getting out of the truck, the driver was mystified as there were no cars anywhere and no footprints around his truck.
There is a second urban legend that warns against parking next to a cemetery. Another trucker in Australia reported that he stopped next to a modern cemetery for a break. He switched off the truck, closed the curtain, locked the truck from both sides, and climbed into bed. The weather was hot and he was tossing and turning trying to get to sleep. As he was about to fall asleep, he heard the passenger door open and saw the cabin light turn on. Shocked at what happened, he lay still, waiting to see what happened next but there was no more noise, just an eerie silence. The trucker grabbed his torch and checked everywhere inside and outside of the truck but nobody was to be found.
The Nullabor Plain of Australia is a place that features heavily in stories of the unexplained. It is a desolate, empty, and lonely piece of straight road stretching more than 1,000 miles. In 1996, a truck driver claims to have had his entire truck lifted off the ground after being followed by a large glowing sphere for more than 50 miles. The ball of light suddenly disappeared and the trucker felt the truck lift off the road and shake violently. Shortly after, the truck was forced back down onto the road with such violence that it blew two tires. Despite the incident lasting less than one hour, the truckers watch showed six hours that he couldn’t account for.
One urban legend that serves as a warning for truckers is the appearance of shadow people. They show up when the trucker is facing exhaustion as a warning to stop driving and take a rest. One trucker in North Carolina had his first experience on the I-77 highway near Charlotte. Near the end of an onramp stood what appeared to be a homeless person by the side of the road. As the trucker got closer, he saw what looked like a man, but his skin and features were matte black. He tried to get a look at his face as he passed by but he could only see darkness. He immediately pulled over and looked back but the mysterious figure was gone.
If you’re ever driving along Karak Highway in Malaysia late at night, keep an eye out for the yellow Volkswagen that is famous for taunting truckers. The car will suddenly appear in front of a truck, driving very slowly, forcing you to overtake it. Once you’ve overtaken the slow-moving car, after a while, it will appear in front of your truck again, challenging you to overtake. If you overtake it, it will appear in front of you again after a few miles. The legend goes that as long as you keep overtaking the yellow Beetle, it will keep appearing in front of you, but if you look into the driver’s seat, you will see that there is nobody driving the car.
One of the oldest urban legends is that of the black dog. The black dog appears as a warning to sleepy truck drivers to get off the road as soon as possible because danger is coming. Supposedly, when a trucker has been driving too long, the black dog will run in front of the truck before disappearing, with the sudden shock causing the truck driver to become more alert. The legend goes that the black dog belonged to a trucker who met an untimely end after falling asleep at the wheel and his dog now appears to warn others of danger.
This tale begins when a trucker has pulled into a rest stop and is setting up his sleeper cab for the night. He hears small footsteps approaching his truck, followed by knock on his door. Upon opening the door, he sees two small children who say, “Our parents will be here soon, can we stay with you until they arrive?” The driver agrees but feels a sense of fear. He notices when he peers at the children's face that their eyes are completely black. After some time, a light will appear in the distance and the children excitedly exclaim that their parents have arrived. The light grows brighter and brighter until it’s blinding to the driver, whereupon the children suddenly disappear and the light blinks out.
Phantom vehicles are generally dismissed as urban legends but in 1951 a newspaper in Australia published the story of a close encounter with a ghostly truck on a highway running out of Melbourne. A driver told the journalist how he noticed lights fast approaching in his mirror, which was very unusual because he was driving around the speed limit. As the lights got closer, he could make out the outline of a 1940s Kenworth. As the truck inched closer, it seemed like it was going to collide with his vehicle and all the driver could do was brace for impact. But the lights suddenly blinked off and the truck vanished. Nobody has been able to explain the phenomenon but there are several similar reports all over Victoria.
Several years ago, a trucker driving home noticed a light on his dashboard and his oil temperature dropping. Worried his truck wouldn’t make it home, he pulled over on the side of the road and got underneath to see if there were any leaks. It was an unbearably hot day and while he was laying underneath the truck, he blacked out. He didn’t know how long he was out. As he came to, he realized somebody had grabbed him by the foot and was dragging him along the ground. He shouted at them to stop. Startled, they took off running and disappeared into the forest. The driver never knew what was about to happen to him but he was certain it wouldn’t have been good.
A trucker was headed to work after picking up his friend, who lived at the end of a dirt road. They had just passed a bridge when things started to get weird, as the driver couldn’t shake the feeling they were being watched. His friend said, “Don’t stop driving, someone’s following us.” There were no cars around and no signs of headlights. The driver stepped on the gas, when suddenly a rock the size of a child’s fist hit the windshield, putting a huge chip in the glass. They kept driving slowly, unable to see clearly through the damage. Later, they learned that the area past the bridge was haunted and ghosts would throw rocks at speeding traffic to get them to slow down.
Out in Maine one night, a trucker was driving without his glasses. It’s a lonely, uninhabited place and you can drive hours without seeing anybody. He was starting to zone out when he noticed something moving on the road up ahead. He couldn’t make out what it was and pulled over to check it out. It was moving but moving very slowly. He was curious and approached it on foot. "Is that a baby?" he thought. Sure enough, it was a baby. Stunned, he walked over to pick it up but as he got closer it noticed it was a baby doll being dragged along slowly by a string. He sprinted back to his truck and got out of there as fast as he could.
A driver described a creepy experience that happened to him a few years ago when he was on a meet and turn. This is where two drivers will meet and switch trailers before driving back home. It was around 3 am and the other driver wasn’t due to arrive for another hour, so he thought he would get in a quick nap. About 10 minutes into his rest, he was awoken by a barking dog. He tried ignoring it but it got closer and louder until it was right outside his door. The driver sat up and looked out his window. Standing outside was a large man, no older than 40. His eyes were crazy and he was frothing at the mouth and barking at the driver.
Stories of big cats in the Outback have persisted for years, with several sightings being recorded despite no proof ever being found. One truck driver swears he had an encounter after driving home following a grain delivery. It was dark and he could only see as far as his headlights shone; beyond that, it was pitch black. As he was driving, he could just make out the figure of a huge, catlike creature walking across the highway. As he got closer, he could make out its reflective eyes. The huge creature seemed unperturbed about the truck and continued crossing the road before disappearing into the bush at the side of the road. Despite several sightings, nobody can say for sure what these creatures are.
Driving late at night can play tricks on your mind but one Alabama truck driver swears this happened to him. About 10 minutes into a 12-hour drive, he felt something touch the back of his neck. Knowing he was alone in his truck, he shook it off and continued driving. Not long after, he felt something ruffling his hair. Turning around, he was shocked to see a hand reaching out of the darkness. He slammed on the brakes to stop and checked the rear of his truck but couldn’t find anybody. Reluctantly, he continued driving but retired and sold his truck as soon as he got back home.
A famous legend from Japan tells of a cross-country trucker. He had one son who was always ill and had mysteriously vanished from the family farm at six years of age. This affected the trucker terribly and every night, he drank more and more to cope with his grief. One night, he was driving through the countryside to deliver a load of rice when he came upon a police checkpoint. The policeman asked him where he was going and if he had been drinking. They checked over his truck and decided to give him a ticket for the small boy in the passenger seat that wasn’t wearing his seat belt. Legend says that after that night, he never drank again
Sources: CDLlife, Fueloyal, The News Wheel, and Unexplained Mysteries.