Citizens’ band (CB) radio is a communication device that allows people to talk to each other using a radio frequency. The user has 40 channels to choose from and uses an 11 meter band or 27 MHz. CB radio was one of the few radio services available for personal use in the 1940s, but the equipment needed to use it was prohibitively expensive, so it was primarily used by tradesmen and truck drivers through the 1960s.
The 1970s saw an explosion in the use of CB radio. The radio equipment technology had become smaller and became quite popular among truckers. Since the national speed limit had been lowered to 55 mph (90 kph), truckers began to use radios to alert each other when they saw speed traps set up by the police.
Its popularity also took off in the 1970s thanks to films such as Convoy and the Smokey and the Bandit series. Television shows such as The Dukes of Hazzard also introduced the radio to the American public. These films and television shows depicted truckers and good ol' boys outrunning the law with the help of their CB radios.
At the same time, the popularity of CB radio exploded around the world. Clubs were formed, and not only truckers were members — many people spent hours in their homes chatting to people. Users had their own language and their own call sign names, known as handles. Channel 9 was specifically designated for emergency calls to provide assistance for parties in trouble.
People who owned a CB radio in many countries were legally required to obtain a license for it. Many people ignored this rule, as doing so contributed to the enthusiast's outlaw image. As with any form of communication in which a person can remain anonymous, the system was open to abuse and crank radio calls were a source of irritation to some and hilarity to others.
CB radio is still a popular pastime for many people around the world, but with the advent of the Internet and mobile phones, it is no longer as popular as it once was. It is still used widely by truckers and is particularly useful in rural areas where phone lines cannot be used.