Since the 1970s, CB radios have been all the rage, and for good reason. With technological advancements, technology has changed and improved. It’s no wonder you may be wondering whether truckers still use CB radios and what other communication tools they use.
Truckers do still use CB radios because there are various benefits to using a communication tool like this. CB radios are reliable when there isn’t mobile service or when service is spotty, it enables drivers to communicate with receivers and shippers, and it gives truckers emergency alerts.
Plus, it’s an affordable communication device.
Do you know what a CB radio is, how to use it, and what radio channels other truckers use? Well, even if you do know a bit about CB radios and trucking, we’ve got all the information you’d like to know right here.
What Is a CB Radio?
A citizens band radio, or CB radio for short, is a land mobile radio system running on 4 watts power. The CB radio is a bidirectional voice communication system where one person can listen and talk to many others.
It offers 40 channels within a shortwave or high frequency band of 27 MHz. These radios have a range of 3 miles to 20 miles, and the range depends on the terrain.
Examples of CB radios are the:
- Cobra 29LX Professional CB Radio
- Uniden Pro505XL CB Radio
- Galaxy DX-959 SSB CB Radio
The CB radio services started in 1945 and truckers, radio hobbyists, electricians, carpenters, and plumbers started using it during the 1960s. It rose in popularity in the 1970s after the 1973 oil crisis.
The American government imposed a 55 mph speed limit, and with rationing and fuel shortages, truckers used CB radios to find better service stations, inform other drivers of speed traps, and more.
In fact, the use of CB radios became so widespread that CB slang even developed. It’s a distinctive anti-language that’s cynical and geographical. Examples are:
- Baby bear – newbie police officer
- Smokey – a police officer
- Gumball machine – police vehicle
- Flying donut – police helicopter
- Bear trap – speed trap
In essence, it was the start of social media and like the internet for truckers.
Truck drivers used CB radios to communicate with each other and they also had handles (nicknames or callsigns). They’d also share stories and crack jokes to pass the time on the road.
And these radios were like the internet (or Mr. Google) because truckers informed each other about accidents, roadblocks, speed traps, the traffic situation, weigh stations, and more. CB radios were a lifesaver.
Are they still today?
Do Truckers Still Use CB radios?
When you think about communication devices and tech today, you probably don’t think about CB radios (or it won’t be in your top 10).
So with various smart devices that truck drivers could use, do they still have CB radios? And is there a need for a CB radio in your truck?
There are certainly apps and other communication tools you can use to get the info you’d – traditionally – get from a CB radio. Many truckers have been dependent on CB radios for many decades, and change is difficult.
So, yes, truckers do still use CB radios. While not all truck drivers do use a citizen band radio, many do.
Should I Put a CB Radio in My Truck?
You are long-hauling in a remote region like Alaska where not every spot has cell phone reception or anywhere else where reception is spotty.
There’s been a snowstorm, an oil spill across the asphalt, or an accident that will affect your driving and delivery times.
How will you know about an event when you only rely on more-modern communication tools?
Yep, exactly. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
So put a CB radio in your truck so you can have access to the following, especially in more remote areas:
- Local travel advice
- Communication on arrival with the receiver
- Accident and disaster warnings
- Personal interaction with like-minded people
An important note: Ensure you choose the best antenna kit for your truck’s CB radio.
Can You Talk to Truckers via CB Radio?
You can talk to other truckers using a CB radio.
Even though the golden craze of CB radio, when truck drivers used the system to alert their fellow truckers about speed traps and more, is mostly gone, there is still a large CB-favoring trucking community.
The drivers share stories, shoot the breeze, and crack jokes while they haul.
What Radio Channel Do Most Truckers Use?
There are 40 distinct channels on CB radios within the 27 MHz band. However, only a few of these channels are popular amongst truck drivers.
Truck drivers in the eastern parts of the USA mostly use channel 1.
Channel 9 is a noteworthy channel to tune into when a trucker wants to be kept abreast of emergency situations.
While traveling on regional roads, truckers may switch over to channel 10.
Channel 17 is mostly used by truckers driving on the north-southbound highways on the United States’ West Coast.
Channel 19 is pretty much a truck driver’s home base station, especially for long-haul drivers. Drivers use this station to help them pass the time – sharing and listening to stories.
What Other Communication Devices Truckers Use?
- More evolved radio systems, like a satellite radio service (XM or Sirius)
- VHF radios
- Trucking apps on their smart devices (phones and tablets) – Waze, Trucker Path, Truck Map, Sygic, or TruckBook
- Push-to-talk apps like Zello that turns a smartphone into a talk walkie talkie
- Video chat apps like Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and Zoom
My Last Trucking Thoughts
Communication while on the road is essential for truckers. You need to know about an emergency, and you can also use a CB radio to learn about trucking and pick up the unique lingo.
CB radios aren’t dead – yet. However, with advancements in technology, it’s very likely that CB radios won’t be part of a trucker’s regular drive sometime in the future.
But for now, CB radios are here to stay.