To CB or Not to CB

Breaker, Breaker, 1…9…

CB radioBefore many of us ever knew we’d wind up in logistics careers, we spent our childhoods fantasizing about the world of CB radio.

In an era before text messages, DMs, and PMs, CBs seemed like an elite club of the coolest big rig truckers speaking in secret code to let each other know who was boss.

Even today, those new to the world of trucking often fall into one of two categories. They either can’t wait to get their hands on their own CB to introduce their own call sign, or they pull out their smartphone and ask – “Who needs a CB anymore?”

What surprises everyone is how much CB radios are still a vital part of the industry. CB, or “Citizens Band” radio is a publicly available service allowing private citizens to use radio communication for business or personal reasons. It is distinctly different from amateur radio channels, and wasn’t developed intentionally for the trucking industry.

So, how did CB radio become such an integral part of the industry? It all goes back to the 1970’s oil and gas crisis in the United States. (Gosh, I hope I’m not the only one who remembers that far back!)

CB radioWhen gas prices spiked and roads were closed, the CB became its own form of “social media” for long haul truckers to share their best spots for fueling up. What began as a necessary information network became the hottest communication fad of the 1970’s, inspiring songs, comics, movies and more.

Trucking News reports that up to 50% of drivers still use the CB radio in their trucks.While cellphones are more common to keep drivers in touch with the world outside the cab, the CB still has important uses. Certain areas of the country, like the Southwest, have notoriously spotty cell phone coverage, and CB radio can be the only way to keep in touch in case of emergencies.

Speaking of emergencies, CB radios still save lives today. In 2013, a group of Tennessee truckers, using CB radio to communicate, created a rolling roadblock and blocked a kidnapper trying to leave the state with his son.  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again- shipping professionals are superheroes. We even have the gadgets!

No matter your position on CBs, I send you 3s and 8s.


Fuel for Thought,