Truck drivers 20 years ago entered a rite of passage when they started trucking thanks to the CB radio. As soon as you received your CDL, something that surprisingly was a new thing in 1992, you were searching for a CB handle. Whether you were called Butter Bean, Ghost Rider, Tiny or Big Mac, that became your alter ego as a truck driver. Now, flash forward to the 21st century where smartphones are filling every trucker’s front pocket. Where are CB radios fitting into this new way of communicating?
Importance of Connecting with Truckers
As you haul truck loads from one destination to the next, you encounter all sorts of situations.
- The weather goes wild and snows you in at a truck stop.
- You get caught up in a 10-mile delay due to a tragic multi-car pile-up.
- Your big rig decides to pick today to freeze up or fall apart.
These are just three of the reasons why you need to be able to communicate with other truckers. In the past truck drivers would push the button on their CB mic and ask about pending weather or road conditions. They would ask other drivers about alternative routes for detours. CB radios would help truck drivers get out of jams. When truck drivers were lonely, they could reach out and chat, sing, cuss or quarrel with another truck driver within radio frequency.
Trucking Communication is Changed
Now we have smartphones that take up all of our free time, thanks to online gaming, texting, news channels, social media and Internet searches. You can even listen to music, podcasts or audio books on your smartphone. Apps allow you to do all of these things, and then some. Truck drivers use their smartphones to:
- Connect with fellow truck drivers, dispatchers and customers
- Check weather apps to see the local forecast
- Download directions to destinations using GPS and map apps, such as Google Maps
- Look up an alternate route in the case of a traffic jam or road construction
- Get load information and important paperwork by email
- Upload and print off pdf files including bill of lading, payroll statements, expense reports, dock receipts, health certificate, over-sized loads permits, rate confirmation sheets, etc.
- Take a screenshot of important paperwork and submit it to the trucking company, dispatcher or customer
- For entertainment purposes aka online games, streaming music and TV viewing
The list could literally go on and on. On top of these you have all sorts of apps that let you do everything from keeping up with your mileage and tracking your route. Rather than having a big, bulky CB radio attached to your dashboard, why not use your smartphone to connect with truckers?
The Trouble with Smartphones
There’s always a consequence to every change, and for the switch-over to smartphones, there are several. For starters, truck drivers cannot use their smartphones while operating a big rig due to legal and safety reasons. Tack on the fact that the entire trucking culture is based around connectivity. Truck drivers dress alike, talk alike with their own language, and have a similar mindset. This is encouraged through the use of CBs. While truckers are driving solo, save for those taking team trucking jobs, truck drivers do like to talk. Just ask one a question and you’ll find out soon enough. Being alone in the cab for hours on end does something to a person where they want to reach out and connect. CB radios allow this to happen. Sure, you can call or text another trucker, but that’s not the same.
Benefits of Using Your CB Radio
A CB radio only has a reach of so many miles, which places you in touch with truck drivers within your immediate area. Just as with chatting with truck drivers at truck stops, a CB gives truckers who don’t know each other a chance to connect. They can meet new truck drivers, make friends or share information with local truckers. Truckers who are looking for trucking jobs can hop on the radio and get the low down about trucking companies and job opportunities. This helps truckers, especially rookie drivers, weed through those that are too good to be true and the best paying trucking jobs.
Along with being a perfect channel for trucker communication, CB radios help truckers develop their own truck driving personalities. From being known by their CB handles, to being remembered by other truckers for their advice, wit, comedy or storytelling, CB radios are an important part of truck driver culture. So the next time you get a wild hair to throw your CB radio to the curb, remember why these communication devices are of such importance to the truck driving community. Rather than grabbing your smartphone and Googling for local information, pick up your CB mic and give a shout out to the local truckers in your area. Bust out of your trucker bubble and connect with other truck drivers using your CB radio.