If you’re interested in CB radios, then you probably know about the CB radio craze in the 70s, especially among truckers. There were even films, like B.J. and the Bear, that revolved around trucking and CB radio use. As a matter of fact, back then, virtually every American driver knew about CB radios and used slangs associated with CB radios, such as “Breaker, breaker” and “10-4, good buddy”.
Back then, truckers would push their colorful CB radio buttons and talk to their fellow drivers either to report emergencies, advice on routes, or just talk casually and have fun.
But, eventually, the craze declined. That was probably due to the fact that these radios were confined to local use only; communication over long distances wasn’t possible. Again, CB radios were only usable in public areas where people could eavesdrop on other people’s talks; there was just no privacy.
Nonetheless, CB radios didn’t totally go away. Drive down any of those highways in Texas, for instance, and you can be certain to spot trucks with an old-style CB antenna.
Although truckers now utilize advanced electronic devices like smartphones and GPS to communicate, CBs still have a place in their communication channels. And can we blow your mind? Polls done in 2016 indicated that around 50% of truckers still utilize CBs.
A Brief History
CBs were brought into existence by the FCC in 1945, when it set aside a part of the electromagnetic spectrum for personal communication by ordinary citizens, hence the term Citizens Band (CB).
In the 60s, blue collar workers in the US found the CB radio very useful for communication while on site. trucking fleets particularly loved using these radios, as they helped them stay in contact very efficiently. For the first time, a driver in Alabama could talk to another driver in Florida without having to meet face to face.
By the 70s, every semi-trailer on the road had a CB radio. Truckers were able to give each other the heads up on problems like unfavorable weather or blocked roads, or to inform them on things like fuel stations or diners with adequate parking lots.
Initially, one had to have a license to be authorized to operate a CB radio but that requirement was done away with afterwards, such that anyone could use CB radios provided their equipment was approved by the FCC.
And by the way, the FCC still controls CB radio use today.
What groups of people utilize the CB radio and why?
For a long time, folks have assumed that CB radios are meant for truckers only. But, did you know that they’re also very popular with recreational vehicle owners, off-roaders, motorcyclists, and general hobbyists.
These radios are very useful for helping groups of people stay organized and keep in contact, particularly when they’re holding events like biking or mountain climbing.
Although radars have taken over the task of identifying speed traps, CB radios are still in use for the same task.
A CB radio can assist you greatly in finding alternative routes in case of traffic jams, or in warning other drivers (or getting warned by other drivers) in case of road blockages. In the event of severe weather on certain routes, you’re able to get the heads up and avoid those routes for better ones.
And, in case your vehicle breaks down, you can look for nearby mechanics using a CB radio.
Oh – and by the way, if you’re on a very long road trip, like an interstate one, the fun of using a CB radio and making new friends through the network helps time fly by so the journey becomes less exhausting. It also helps you stay alert.
Another group of people that still uses CB radios extensively is disaster managers like the police and life savers on the beach. Emergency and volunteer responders in remote areas also use CBs to get emergency notifications and offer help.
What makes CB radios popular today?
Since the invention of the CB radio, many other devices that are more advanced have been created. That includes the smartphones, the computers, and the internet. However, CB radios are still in use. So what has prevented them from dying out?
Let’s look at some of their most important benefits that keep these gadgets relevant:
Communication where nothing else works
It might seem like mobile phone towers are all over the place, but they are not. Ask any long-distance truck driver and they will tell you there are parts of the country where the cell phone signal is very poor. Even in states like California where you’d expect mobile phone reception to be perfect, there are areas where your mobile phone wont be very helpful.
If you’re in a remote area where your cell phone signal is weak, and you have an emergency, a CB radio can be very useful. The good thing about these radios is that they receive signals much better than mobile phones or the internet.
If you’re a trucker or just an ordinary driver on a road trip, CB radios offer you the quickest means of notifying your colleagues as well as other drivers on the road on traffic conditions, like accidents, police checks, and constructions zones.
Common uses of the CB radio
CB radios are particularly useful for drivers. Some of the uses are:
This one is very interesting and unique: due to legal and safety reasons, the state and the FMCSA oblige truckers to use CB radios, rather than cell phones, while operating big rigs.
As a truck driver, you may be on the road for hours on end, which is not much fun. A CB comes in handy by spicing things up through helping you discover new friends and discuss various topics, like the weather, with other truck drivers.
A CB radio helps announce truck driving jobs locally. If you’re looking for a truck driving job, a CB radio might help you get a lucrative one.
So, what should you look for when buying a CB radio?
There are many CB radio models out there; some are good and some are bad. In fact, there are CB users that have complained about poor reception, talking of white nose, which comes in form of muffled voices and static.
Although the FCC requires CB owners to use only 4 transmission power watts, there are other features that the best CB radio brands employ to boost reception and clarity.
One of the most important features in the RF gain. This feature functions through filtering weak CB radio signals so that only the strong ones are received/transmitted. That greatly helps in the blocking of background noise, so that clarity becomes much better.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1.Are CBs dead?
The use of CB radios is actually very much alive. It may not be as popular as before but truckers, hobbyists, disaster managers, and emergency responders are still using them.
2.Is there an app for CB?
Yes, there’s an app that you can download to your smartphone but it’s not as strong as actual CB radio equipment.
3.Is the police using CBs?
Yes. The police as well as other disaster and emergency responders use channel 9.
So, are CB radios still in use today?
The answer is yes. Seasoned driver know how handy these devices are. And do you know what? We could say that CBs were the precursor of social media. Through CBs, folks were able to talk to friends and make friends from strangers, and they were able share information freely. Doesn’t social media use the same principles?
In the modern world, we use CBs to communicate where other devices aren’t picking up signals very well. The police use them, hobbyists use them, truckers use them, even mountain climbers/bikers use them. CB radios are suited for just anyone.
One last thing you need to know about CB radios – to work well, they normally need a good antenna. To learn more about CB radio antennas and discover one that will work well for you, go here.