Keeping an Ear to the Ground with A CB Radio

Most of us who were alive back in the 1970s still remember the nationwide 55 MPH speed limits. Back then most everyone had a CB radio, regardless of what type of vehicle they were driving.

In a sense, that was the ‘social media’ of the day.

Why have a CB?

To this day, many old school truckers like myself still understand the importance of keeping an ear to the ground in certain situations—especially when road conditions deteriorate in the winter months. While we may not use a CB radio constantly like we did years ago they still maintain their place as an important tool when needed.

Many of our customers also communicate with drivers over CB radios to give them dock door assignments and other information.

When road conditions start to deteriorate a professional driver knows how important it is to get off the road and find a safe, legal place to park. Of course, a lot can go wrong while driving through those conditions before shutting down. The sooner we are aware of changing conditions the better. Instant communication by CB radio provides us important information to help us make better decisions. It may help us avoid a massive pile-up on a highway that just occurred in low visibility conditions by stopping in time or taking an exit to search for a way around it.

What kind of CB would I need?

Our company trucks are designed to accommodate a standard full-size CB radio like a Cobra 29, Uniden PC78, or any other CB radio with the same exterior dimensions. As I found out firsthand, the CB mounting locations will not accommodate a larger Signal Side Band (SSB-type) radio like a Cobra 148, Uniden Grant XL, or a Galaxy 959. Using a smaller or larger chassis CB than the aforementioned full-size unit is not a wise idea. It’s harder to mount them securely without drilling holes—which is not allowed in company equipment.

I do recommend going with a good quality noise-cancelling microphone. I’ve had great luck with the Road King 56 mics over the years.

Our International trucks have a built-in external speaker for our CBs that works well. But I advise using an external speaker in other makes of trucks so you can hear communication much easier.

I also recommend not using the factory-installed CB antennas in any truck as they generally don’t provide good SWR readings and that can cut down your radio’s ability to transmit and receive while in use. I have always installed my own antenna and coax cable for my setups.

A reputable CB shop would be a good source for everything you need, and they often have good quality used CB radio gear for sale that would be less expensive. They could also install your external antenna and set everything up to work properly. Just let them know ahead of time that you are in a company truck and cannot do any modifications to it.