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Rude driving isn’t necessarily illegal. However, some driving maneuvers are so mean-spirited that they become dangerous and, subsequently, illegal. Because being rude is usually not illegal, we rarely get the satisfaction of seeing these drivers pay for their automotive sins. Thankfully, in the age of ubiquitous camera usage by everyone all the time, a truck driver rolling coal on an innocent driver did so right in front of a cop, and the justice is swift and sweet. 

What does rolling coal mean? 

Black pickup Truck rolling coal
Pickup Truck rolling coal | George Rose/Getty

Rolling coal is when a diesel vehicle’s emissions controls have been altered to allow an extremely rich fuel-to-air mixture. When the driver hammers the throttle, fuel floods the cylinders, creating a massive cloud of thick black smoke. Rolling coal is most common with large diesel trucks but is possible with other diesel vehicles as well. 

In order to roll coal properly, the truck’s EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) valve control must be bypassed. There are simple modification kits for this. Given the ongoing catalytic converter theft problem, some diesel owners might have found that you can roll coal by deleting your cat or having it deleted for you. 

The rude part comes in because it is common for diesel truck owners to use this emission of toxic black smoke to troll other drivers. There are reports of bikers, EV drivers, and even cyclists getting coal rolled intentionally. Not only does the black smoke obscure the vision of drivers, but it is also a way to signal certain beliefs or to express disdain for others’ beliefs. 

You should think twice about rolling coal

Rolling coal is only possible by making modifications and then hammering the throttle. In order to roll coal properly, you basically have to be speeding, or at least that might be the end result of rolling coal. 

The video is shot by a third car that wasn’t involved in the drama. You can see the diesel truck approach the car ahead of it, pass it, and then quickly cut over to give it a heavy dose of diesel smoke. It just so happened that a police officer was hiding behind the bridge looking for speeders when the truck signaled a massive jump in acceleration. 

So when this driver passed the car and left them in a cloud of black smoke, it automatically signaled to the awaiting officer that this person was not only being rude but also accelerating dangerously and likely speeding. 

The justice was swift and satisfying. We have all been plagued by rude drivers. There is often nothing (legal) we can do about someone honking their horn too much, cutting you off, or riding your bumper. We just have to grit and bear it. However, this video gives such a sense of satisfaction for many of us that we might find ourselves watching multiple times in a row. It’s ok. Sometimes we can lean into some healthy schadenfreude.

Is rolling coal illegal? 

The Clean Air Act makes messing with emissions control systems illegal. While this is still a very common practice, you can get tagged for it. Granted, this law is only enforced in certain states. 

Again, seeing as how rolling coal came as a natural result of Truck Pulls, a kind of truck motorsport event, it is best achieved by dumping tons of fuel into a powerful diesel engine. So, while you may not live in a place where the police particularly care about diesel engine modifications, they might care about the big smokey flair you are sending up that screams, “I’M SPEEDING!”