CB Radio Etiquette And Slang

Citizen Band Radio (CB Radio) is a system of radio communications between people within a short distance and the 27-MHz (11 Meters) band. It has been around for a long time and the uses prove its importance. For instance, it can be used to ensure safety on the road, pass information and chat with people. Before you start using a CB radio, you should know there there are rules associated with using one. You should also familiarize yourself with CB radio terminology, so you don't find yourself completely lost.

Broad Rules

The most important, and most broad rule of CB radio usage is simple, respect. Despite the fact that it's illegal to use obscene language when addressing others, it's good to use the appropriate language when talking to specific people on Citizen Band Radios.

It's important to note that CB Radios are primarily used by adults. Therefore, if you are in a car with your kids and you want to let them talk on the Citizen Band Radio for entertainment, you need to consider that not many people using their radios will be thrilled by the idea of entertaining your bored kids. This does not, however, mean that there's an age restriction to using CB Radios. In fact, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) rules state that you can operate a CB station provided that:

            •          You aren't a federal government agency, a foreign government or a representative (of a foreign government).

            •          A cease and desist order has not been issued on you by the FCC or it's not in effect.

Emergency Channels on CB Radio

On a CB Radio, Channel 9 is considered the emergency channel. It's therefore not to be used for any other purpose.

Joining or Beginning a Conversation

You don't just "break into" conversations when using a CB Radio. You need to ask permission first. You can do this by saying "breaker" or "break" and the channel number you are on. The most common basic information gathering channel is Channel 19. In case you want to inquire something or report a traffic condition, begin by "break one nine" the wait for someone to answer with a phrase like "go ahead breaker."

Avoid "Taking Over" Channels

Of the typical 40 band channels, there are some which aren't frequented. You will discover which ones by using the CB Radio more often. If you intend to hold a long dialogue with someone ask them to switch to a certain less frequented channel so you can avoid taking over the current channel with your conversation.


It's important to note that these channels are for the public. You might be used to certain language when talking to your friends but this language might not be too appealing to someone on the channel. It is therefore important to avoid the use of profanity at all cost. Also, remember that the most frequent users are truck drivers. Respect not only their jobs but also their place (on the road).  

Mastering the Terminology

The list of slang words used on CB Radios is a really, really long one. You'll learn a lot as you continue using the CB Radio. However, some of the most common and amusing words to master include.

  • Advertising: A marked police car with its flashing lights on.
  • Alligator: A large piece of a truck tire in the road.
  • Back off the hammer: Slow down.
  • Drop the hammer: Speed.
  • Hammer down: Speed up.
  • Backstroke: Return trip.
  • Band-aid buggy: Ambulance.
  • Break-check: Slow up ahead traffic.
  • Driving award: Speeding ticket.
  • Everybody's walking the dog: All the channels are full
  • Full grown bear: State police.
  • Beaver fever: You're missing your wife/girlfriend