Using a CB Radio for Emergency Communication - It Can Still Save Your Life.

April 15th, 2014 | Cobra Electronics | Chicago, IL

There has been a lot of chatter surrounding the topic of whether or not CB Radios are still relevant today. We recently had a conversation with a Facebook fan who explained his thoughts that the CB Radio has become obsolete in this smartphone-driven age.

It is true the amount of trucker-specific apps are on the rise. But when it comes to in-route communication apps, there is still a void. The CB Radio still reserves a space on every trucker’s dash for its emergency communication abilities because one can communicate with anyone without knowing their number.

Why the CB Radio can, and should be, used for emergency communication:

The Original Crowd-Sourced Driver Communication

The CB Radio is the original user-generated community of alerts, road threats and emergency warnings. The CB Radio also creates a unified channel for outside agencies to monitor. Channel 9 was issued by the FCC for emergency communication and is scanned by US agencies, such as police, rescue for medical emergencies, accidents, vehicle breakdowns, and lost motorists.

The trucker community is a large one— estimates that in the United States, there are 3.5 million truck drivers. With various models of smartphones and apps on the market, and a group of truckers who do not own a smartphone, emergency alerts split between various phone applications fail to reach the equivalent of the broad CB Radio audience. The far reach and large community of the CB Radio keep information relevant, immediate, and perpetuates the CB radio as a first-response technology.

Listen with Channel 19

Channel 19 is the unofficial trucker information channel. Beyond entertainment purposes (for which many are well acquainted) trucker chatter can be lifesaving.

There are road hazards so dangerous, a warning can be the difference between life and death. Take it from these people who weigh in on the Overdrive Facebook page.

“I would never turn it [CB Radio] off. It’s already saved my life once by hearing about stopped traffic about a half a mile away and out of eyesight when I was hauling in the rain,” commented a driver on the Facebook thread.

The radio creates a community of valuable contacts; those within close proximity. A warning to slow down or use precaution from a fellow driver who passed a dangerous road condition, whether it be snow, rain, fog, debris on the road, an accident up ahead, etc., can prevent a deadly accident. Dangerous weather, traffic or other alerts are immediate and timely over the CB Radio.

Take Action— Call for Help

Anyone who has a CB Radio can call for help, whether from the driver in need or to report the accident of another motorist, over channel 9 reaching nearby listeners. It is immediately broadcasted to the highway patrol, police and rescue services. This is especially beneficial if the phone number of the agency needed is not known. It can also be a medium to connect drivers to each other, like these men did, who were stranded for 30 hours due to icy road conditions. They used their radio to communicate with each other and share updates.

Then there is this inspiring story of how a driver heard an Amber Alert broadcast over the CB Radio. He recognized the license plate of the fugitive car in front of him, and communicated over the CB Radio to a nearby truck driver. They boxed in the vehicle, holding it off until the police were able to get on the scene. The child was returned safely home.

When 4G Runs its Course

A cell phone is meaningless without service or a network connection.  Rural routes can often bring spotty service, and in the case of emergency, networks can be bombarded with users.  Dead Cell Zone shows a map of cell phone dead zones— the amount will surprise you!  Depending solely on a smartphone can have disastrous consequences if an emergency were to occur and service was not available.

One-Touch Communication Consideration

In 2012, The U.S. Department of Transportation FMCSA published rules restricting texting and the use of hand-held mobile phones by truck drivers operating a commercial motor vehicle. This was enacted to reduce distracted driving. The department cited a study that found the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event was 23.2 times greater for commercial vehicle drivers who text while driving.

Even in Canada, CB Radios have avoided these regulations since they are considered to “continue to play a key role in the day-to-day lives of truck drivers in that they serve as a vital communications tool for drivers from both a safety and operations perspective,” said Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, Bob Chiarelli. CB Radios are a legal, and safer communication option for truck drivers. The one-touch-to-talk button on a CB Radio is a less distracting option for truck drivers than dialing a phone number or searching and launching a smartphone application.

Designed for a Truck Environment

CB Radios are designed to combat the loud truck environment.  Even the most basic Cobra CB Radios have features to optimize communication in a truck cab.

The 29 LTD is our Classic Professional CB Radio, only $119.95.

Beneficial Features for CB Radio

●      Delta Tune- Used to clarify incoming signals

●      Adjustable Dynamike® Boost- Dynamically boosts microphone for increased voice clarity

●      PA Capability- Use CB radio as a Public Address System with PA speaker. 

●      Switchable ANL/NB- For increased noise reduction

●      Tactile Controls- Allows you to actually feel where the dial is in its rotation without taking your eyes of the road.

NOAA Weather Alerts

Many CB Radios include emergency and weather alerts built into the radio operating system. Like the Cobra 29 LX CAMO, on sale for just $149.95, this CB Radio automatically notifies the driver of all NOAA weather and emergency alerts.

There will be times when a cell phone is the main method of communication. But that doesn’t mean it will replace the need or comfort of having a CB Radio. Let us know how you use your CB Radio. Share with us around the hashtag #CobraJourney.

(Caption for cover photo- US. Department of Transportation FMCSA guidelines for complying with CMV hand-held mobile phone restrictions)