San Francisco — "Breaker, breaker, one nine. Come in, come in, this is the Silver Streak southbound on I-5 at highway marker 306. . . ." Highway travelers with citizen band radios (CBs) don't hear quite so much chatter these days. That's because the toylike fun of a few years ago has given way to practicality. And although CB sales are not in the runaway bracket as they once were, they still qualify as an important electronic line in many stores. Major catalogs of the mail-order companies still feature pages crammed with good-buddy accessories in their semi-annual big books.
So what about the CB fad of a few years ago just being a motorist's plaything?
Those who ride the nation's highways professionally say it never was, although some neophytes may have treated it that way when sets got cheap and were heavily promoted. It is still must equipment for most over-the-road truckers; and it still is the inexpensive, depenable communication system of semi-isolated roadside stopping places. More than that though, it has quietly become the personal security backup of the family vacationer, the interstate-driving salesman with his samples, the metro-city employee driving to and from work at odd hours, and even the weekend traveler.
"You could call today's CB the extram insurance on highways," said one California State Automobile Association executive, "because it can help a driver give almost instant notificatin of any problem.Today's 40-channel CB sets can be bought new for as low as $50. Some of these operate on eight AA batteries; and hooked to an electrical-lighter plug-in kit ($2), these sets are transportable and need not be left in the car to tempt break-ins.