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12 Days of Christmas – Gift Ideas for the Trucker in Your Life

Day 10

CB radios have historically been synonymous with trucking. Films like Smokey and the Bandit, and TV shows like BJ and the Bear made trucking and CB radios popular in the 70s and 80s. But for a large portion of modern-day trucking CB's have become a relic of the past, as more drivers favor cell phones. Both have their uses though.

The thing to remember about CB's is, they are more than just a communication device. They are a safety device. Sure cell phones with their mobile data allow you to look up weather, traffic, and road conditions ahead of you. Apps can give you alerts to problems in the road up ahead, or show you which scale houses are open or closed. But most of these are done through crowd-sourcing, meaning another driver has to update the app with the information. And to use these apps or look at maps a driver needs to pull over, as being caught using a cell phone for any reason while driving is a significant fine. And that is if the distracted driving looking away from the road doesn't cause an accident.

This is where CB's come in handy. CB's provide real-time updates on road conditions and situations immediately in front of you. An app isn't going to tell you about a back up around the curve ¼ of a mile ahead of you. It isn't going to alert you to that blown tire in the middle of the road, or that piece of furniture that fell off a pickup truck blocking a lane of traffic.

CB's are great not just for conversation between drivers as they travel down the road, but for sharing important information not otherwise immediately available. I don't know how many drivers we've passed with one of their side box doors flapping open, trailer door open, flat inside trailer tire, or other problem. Yet when we try to alert the driver via CB they just shake their head because they don't have one. You can't call someone on a cell phone unless you know their number. A CB can reach any driver near you as long as it is turned on.

Sure big cities and highways passing in front of truck stops can get noisy from all the banter and chatter. Sure there are grumpy drivers out there who get their enjoyment by arguing or harassing others over the CB. That is what the volume and squelch knobs are for. They allow you to turn the sound down and decrease the range of signal you pick up. Often we have ours just loud enough for him to hear if someone is yelling about a problem, and the range decreased to maybe a mile. That way we don't have to listen to all the nonsense, at least not for long.

After over 30 years of driving, Allen has seen far more benefit and safety to using a CB in his truck than those that don't. He usually carried 2-3 extra CB's at all times. Both for that “just in case” the one we have installed stops working, and also to give to new drivers who cannot afford to get one just yet.

So which CB to get your trucker? That depends on how much you want to spend and how much they like or use CB's. Not a big CB talker and only want something small with limited range to listen out for emergencies? Or is your trucker one who loves his trucking, his big radios, and all things technology? There is a style and price point for everyone.

You can find a decent CB for around $30. There are also CB's out there with multiple functions, LED colors, Bluetooth capability, GPS integrated, wireless mic, etc... where you can spend upwards of $500+.

Uniden is probable the least expensive known brand of CB that I can think of. Their CB's run anywhere from about $30 - $400. They can be purchased from truck stops, CB shops, and online. Don't forget to get CB antenna and coax cable for installation.

Cobra's are a classic and favorite among many truckers. In fact, I had a little cobra in my “jeep” back when Allen and I first met 25 years ago. They have decent range and sound quality for their size. Cobra's prices range from about $100 and up.

One of Allen's favorite CB's is his Stryker 655. Strykers are a more expensive brand of CB with multiple settings and functions. He has the LED color setting as a pretty purple, and the LED text display set to “Sweet Life.” Expect to spend a couple hundred or more on a Stryker. The 655 has been out a few years now and the price has come down to around $300, newer models obviously costing a bit more.

Regardless of which brand you get, remember to also include at least one antenna and the right size coax cable for installation and grounding. Coax type and size needed is usually found on the CB box. But almost any CB shop or other trucker who uses CB's can help with that information too.

Does your trucker have a favorite brand of CB? How has having a CB come in handy while you or your trucker have been over the road? Share your story in the comments below.

~Sierra Sugar