Simplified equipment guide A brief guide to the proposals to HM Government New radios currently available Leaflets for download Main proposal video Post-Brexit follow-up video
With the pandemic now starting to tail off in the UK I aim to restart putting my proposal to HM Goverment by means of a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, at time of writing this is the Right Honourable Grant Shapps MP, hopefully leading to some kind of discussions with him using my experience of two-way radio communications as a licenced Amateur radio operator as to why this is a good idea and should be implemented.
On the run up to Christmas 2018, in particular the days immediately before it, I saw shocking behaviour by drivers both on the road and in car parks, half of this was down to the fact none of us were able to communicate with one another in real time, in fact my car was the only vehicle equipped with two-way radio equipment that was not part of the business or taxi bands, including a CB I had in for testing purposes, the following year, 2019. history repeated itself and chaos ensued
This lack of communication caused nothing but chaos and no doubt that car parks across the land were suffering the same problem, as a licenced Amateur radio operator I saw this as a good instance for use of radio, I chose CB as the service of choice because PMR446 is limited to handheld radios with fixed antennas and a very low transmit power and poor range in built up areas. whereas CB fairs a little better in this regard and they work at 4 watts, have a potential 80 channels over PMR446's 8-16 channels, and a lot of trucks and 4x4s already have CB radios installed and it would not require a regulations change for the radio equipment
On the 1st of January 2019, while I was working, I arrived at the scene of an accident on a mini roundabout in Catterick Garrison, where a car had failed to give way to a car on the main road, again my car was the only one fitted with a working CB radio, that was at the time tuned to UK19, that was in vicinity, on the offchance that someone else in Catterick Garrison was listening to UK19 I put an alert of this incident on air, twice, this information could have proven vital for traffic to avoid the scene, though there were no repeats of this later on.
CB, or Citizens' Band to give it its full name, is a radio service mainly for short range communication, though longer distances can be possible, there is no need for a licence to use it and no technical qualifications are needed, and it can be used freely for both business and non-business use, it also does not fall under the same laws as using a mobile phone at the wheel, it was very popular in the early 80s and the 90s until mobile phones became popular and affordable, however it is still used by many as in places where a mobile phone can and will fail to work, CB will work absolutely fine
Short answer, no, this is because the mobile phone infrastructure can and does fail (I cite a failure of the O2 network in December 2018 as an excellent example of this), CB has no infrastructure, the failure point would be the radio hardware itself, the transmissions can carry further than a mobile phone without the need for a base station to relay it.
The benefits are that you, as a motorist, would have real-time instant communications with other drivers on the road legally and above board, a group of you can stay in constant contact on a channel of your choosing, except the designated calling and emergency channels, and you'd be able to summon help anywhere, even out of mobile phone range, and you can assist other motorists with information of hold ups and road closures and other incidents on the road network likely to cause delays
As the idea here is that installation of CB radio is to be made mandatory, it would be like having your car insured and having a valid MOT, that is you'd not be allowed to drive it on the road without, part of the proposals to get this into law is have MOT-like testing on the CB radio installation in the vehicle at approved testing stations, which would include suppliers of CB and Amateur radio gear that offer installation services, you would have to therefore have a working CB radio in your car when the time comes that this comes into law
As bicycles, including e-bikes, are not classed as motor vehicles, you would not be required to have a CB radio fitted to your bicycle, however it is advisable so you can alert drivers to your presence, for simplicity it is suggested that a small handheld CB covering at least the 40 UK channels be used and tuned to channel 19 with a suitable handsfree PTT and in-helmet headset
Motorcycles are indeed motor vehicles as the name implies, so these would need a CB radio, the antenna would be fitted as far to the rear as possible, the channel should be defaulted to channel 19 and riders should, for safety, pull over before changing channel, on the motorway a channel change should be done at services, or failing this leave at the nearest available exit. This applies to riders of mopeds and scooters as well, in-helmet headsets are available and a dealer can advise you on what is best for your needs.
By convention, channel 9 is the CB emergency channel and is to be kept clear for this very reason, modern radios have a button that can jump to this instantly no matter where the channel selection has been set, older sets may not, under the proposals it is suggested that volunteers monitor this channel on behalf of the emergency services, the emergency services themselves have their own radio systems and will use this to co-ordinate rather than CB, in an emergency, call for help on channel 9, but keep it clear otherwise
Yes, starter kits with a small radio, an antenna and a large magnetic base to attach to the roof of your car are available, at time of writing these go for around £70 on eBay, place the antenna as close to the centre of the roof as you can, also it may be worth investing in an SWR meter and patch cable, this will allow you to get the best of your setup, I won't go into detail here on why this is important, there are guides on the Internet on how to install a CB radio in a car and this will explain all you need to know on how to get on the air with your purchase