“Rollin’ Coal” drivers modify diesel pickups to blast people with plumes of black smoke in protest of emissions regulations

Updated Jul 9, 2014

Rollin Coal

A new trend among certain fed up drivers of diesel pickups is gaining quite a bit of attention across the country as it has led to many innocent pedestrians and bike riders being blasted with a sudden and massive plume of soot by passing trucks.

It’s called “Rollin’ Coal” and according to a report from Atlanta TV station WSB-TV, it’s all in protest of emissions regulations and environmentalism in general. A quick YouTube search of “rolling coal” turns up hundreds of videos of usually younger drivers pouring thick clouds of black smoke into the air. In fact, there’s one YouTube video, seen below, that refers to the practice as “Prius repellant” and shows the pickup’s two exhaust stacks leaving a trail of soot for the unlucky Prius driver behind them.

The site Vocativ first reported on the trend last month and since then the practice seemingly has only gotten more popular. A look at Google search trends shows that interest in the practice has increased slowly this year and shot up after the Vocativ article was published.

According to Vocativ, you can trace the roots of “Rollin’ Coal” to truck pulls where drivers would modify their pickups to trick the truck into thinking it needs more fuel. That floods the engine with fuel and in addition to giving a boost of power, can result in the truck emitting a big plume of black smoke. And now, the article says, some drivers are spending between $1,000 and $5,000 on this type of modification for the smoke effect alone.

Ryan, a high school senior, told Vocativ, “The feeling around here is that everyone who drives a small car is a liberal. I rolled coal on a Prius once just because they were tailing me.”

Talking Points Memo reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency for a comment on the practice. Spokeswoman Liz Purchia told TPM “the short answer is this is illegal, saying that the practice is in violation of the Clean Air Act which prohibits modifying an engine or tampering with an emission control device on a vehicle to make the control device inoperable.