Because some things, you just can’t replace.
Not so long ago the Citizens Band Radio Service or, CB radio was like the internet for truckers. It did everything we thought we needed and answered all questions. Everything went down over CB radio and if you didn’t have one, you may as well have lived under a rock.
New technologies and the wonderful world of social media cover a lot for us today, however there’s still a reliance on CB radios in trucking as they remain installed in the majority of cabs. Yes it’s a smaller reliance however, it still exists and with good reason.
The CB radio has been around since the 1940’s and in that time, it’s grown from 23 available channels to 40. They are the norm for truckers who have been working in the industry over a decade.
CB radio remains popular among long-haul truck drivers to communicate directions, traffic problems and other relevant matters. They assure coverage at all times, keeping you informed of what’s going on when your out of range. If you get stranded in a remote area with no cell phone signal, your next solution will be point-to-point contact with your radio. No wonder truckers still rely on these.
What is a CB Radio?
A CB Radio covers short distance radio communication between truckers, across 40 channels within the 27 MHz band and a 25 mile radius. It’s shared by many users at once with one station transmitting at a time. Others can actually listen in, and have to wait until the channel is available to use it. Common radio etiquette assures users are never on one station for more than five minutes – and wait another minute before starting communication again.
Sounds difficult, but now more than ever there are less drivers and people in the public using the radios which means there is much more availability.
Why are they still used?
The reasons truckers turned to their radios when they came about in the 1940s are still valid today. Yes they can be resolved with other forms of communication however the CB radio is just as effective, if not more.
Cops are always patrolling the highway for our safety. You know the “bears” ain’t going anywhere and are doing the best job they can. We know you would never break the law. And while you always strive to drive following every single law there is, let’s not forget you’re only human. There’s always going to be the chance you missed a change in speed or haven’t got your log book filled out, where a quick warning is all you need to pull in and save a hefty violation ticket. You might have your own run in and discover a whole new law’s come about since your last shift and can inform other truckers within your CB radio radius.
Learning when there’s an open weigh station, or “chicken coop” is another reason you’ll want to communicate with drivers nearby. We said it before, don’t break the law. However, ain’t no harm in doing a quick check to make sure your load is within legal requirements and perhaps give your dash a quick clean.
Truckies hear things first. Accidents happen, and if you’re going to find out about it as soon as you can it’s going to be over the CB radio. It beats modern technology most of the time with drivers at the scene alerting surrounding truckies within minutes of impact. The advance notice means you can alter your route or flash your lights coming up to a hazard to alert other motorists that something is wrong.
Other uses include general conversation to pass the time, and asking for directions when there is an unexpected road closure and no internet connection to follow a GPS.
What to look for in a CB radio
A truckie really needs to have the most reliable CB radio possible, where you can use functions easily such as changing channels, speaking into the microphone and just switching it on and off. There are still plenty of options out there for consideration and surprisingly not much of the technology has changed significantly. Useful additions such as a weather network and the cost of delays for your company are now standard across most devices and will make for an easier journey.
Some noteworthy functions are going to make life easier for any truckie and should serve as a guide when it comes to choosing the right one for your cab.
Automatic noise limiter (ANL)/Noise Blanker (NB). These functions reduce any static and background noise which may arise from various sources such as your truck cab.
Weather and alert channel scan (NOAA -National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.) The NOAA has a radio network which broadcasts weather alerts and hazard notices across the United States. You’ll receive local alerts across the country when you need it most.
Instant emergency channel. No need to search through the radio channels, as the leading CB switches to channels nine and 19 at the press of a button.
Effective display lighting. As the lighting of a truck cab changes continually, display lights on a CB are best when they can be adjusted in response to the environment.
Channel scanning. Scanning the full band for a signal is essential for truckers so nothing is missed, and everything is communicated.
Single Side Band Modulation (SSB). SSB enables longer-range communication, which is a handy tool for reaching out further and alerting as many drivers as possible when it’s needed most.
RF Gain control. This is a sensitivity filter used to is to reduce noise in the receiver without reducing reception power. It’s a convenient tool for clearer communication with less interruptions.
Customer reviews. Truckies gotta stick together y’all. Check out what your fellow driver’s are saying about their radios for the honest truth before you make any purchases.
Our pick of the range
Cobra 29 LX 40-Channel CB Radio
The Cobra 29 will get you through any long-haul with a range of features to make your life easier. You can scan the NOAA weather channels and will even receive alerts when the radio is off and there is danger or threatening activity nearby. You can change display with four lighting colors, alter the brightness and switch at a click to emergency channels nine or 19. ANL and the boosted microphone guarantees best signal and sound quality and you also get PA capability if your connected to a compatible speaker system. You’ve also got a timer and clock feature to accurately track driving hours. And above all, it has a nine-foot microphone cord and four watts of power output.
Uniden BEARCAT 980SSB
The Bearcat has plenty to offer a truckie, designed to help drivers stay connected without taking their hands or eyes off the road. It comes with NOAA weather alerts, extended microphone cord, ANL, RF gain control and a noise blanker. This radio also comes with a noise cancelling microphone and all 40 channels with full frequency display. The SSB allows for operation at 12 watts which is three times the standard CB power and range. Another added feature is an integrated SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) meter to which measures how efficiently your signal can pass through your antenna system. You’ll be able to match antennas more accurately.
Cobra 29 LTD
It’s hard to beat reliable and uncomplicated. You’ll get essential features with this radio for clear signal and good communications. It comes with SWR calibration assuring maximum performance from the antenna system. RF gain and Dynamike are also included, for clearer and louder communication between drivers. It’s also got 40 channels, four watts power output, a nine foot microphone cable and instant access to channel nine for emergencies.
Did someone say they were on a budget? The Uniden comes with the quality of a trusted brand at a lower price as they leave out the extras. It’s basic and traditional and still has plenty to offer with all 40 channels and instant channel nine and 19 access. You’ll get RF gain control, PA output and switch, microphone and even an external speaker jack for producing better sound. The easy-to-read LCD display has an orange backlight which can be adjusted for night or day viewing. A great option if you’re after a simple radio that’s easy to use.
Midland 1001LWX 40 Channel Mobile CB Radio
This is the perfect option if you need highway information. The Midland comes with NOAA weather radio, RF gain, ANL, PA and 40 channels. It’s also compact with a simple use design which is great if you’re a new driver or just hate gadgets.
President Electronics MC Kinley USA CB Radio
One for the true professionals, this radio is equipped with the latest technology and a fine design to meet all your needs. You get NOAA weather alerts, 40 channels, SSB and SWR calibration for maximum antenna performance. This radio features an automatic squelch control, so surplus noises and weak signals can be filtered with only strong signals left to be heard. The President Electronics device also comes with a switchable talkback system for flexible communication with other drivers. And there’s an LCD with three colors for additional freedom at night. It really does have it all!
Galaxy DX-959B Mobile CB Radio For Truckers
Calling all gadget lovers! This resourceful radio comes with an array of technology related functions you’ll surprisingly come to rely on when used every day. You get SSB, 40 channels, automatic SWR circuit, an SWR LED indicator and built-in SWR calibration to adjust the antenna and monitor tuning for strong signals. A highly efficient filtering function eliminates all unwanted background noises for clear reception. You’ll also have variable dimmer controls, a talkback switch and a roger beep switch button. The Galaxy device also comes with a Galaxy Noise Filter (GNF) reducing noise to aid, in the recovery of those weaker SSB signals.
10-4 is here to stay
We know it’s 2021, but we also know how simple life on the highway can be for a trucker with a decent CB radio set up. They’re not being replaced anytime soon, and the benefits are still high when it comes to simplifying security, safety, convenience, reliance and most of all, effective communication. You’ll never feel alone with the right device once you’ve got it working to full capacity. It’s just one more awesome thing about being a truckie.
10-4 Rubber Ducky.