CB Radios Vs Police/Radio Scanners? Which are more effective for Winter Van Tour?


Hi Guys!

I hope all of you are enjoying tour winter vacations and vaning lives. However, I came here to ask one kind of technical question from you. Actually, I want to buy a radio/police scanner to get weather alerts and to improve communication while travelling especially when travelling with family. Even, I read many reviews of the best radio/police scanners but later, it came into my notice that their use is legal in some states of America and illicit in others. Moreover, I would also need FCC license before purchasing a police/radio scanner.

My friend suggested me to buy CB radion instead of a scanner. When I researched, it came into my knowledge that CB radios don’t offer advanced features. Do you think I should go with CB radios as they don’t need any license or legal issues or should I go with police/radio scanners and should try to get FCC license?

If any of you have already had FCC license then please share the guide to apply with me. Also, share your serious pieces of advice with me.




CB Radio all the way. That’s the primary thing truckers use to keep up instantly on road conditions, wrecks, etc. They have the added advantage of working where cell phones don’t, so you can call for help. Some CB’s also have a weather alert feature.

There are many ways to figure out weather and road conditions online, ahead of time, but for up to the minute information, NOTHING beats a CB radio in the USA.


"I can live like a king because I work like a dog." ~ An anonymous vandweller


Thanks. It is really helpful.


They are different tools actually…
The scanner just listens to local officials & the like, the CB is two way radio.

I know you are supposed to have a licence for a CB (generally ignored) but listening radios require no licences here in the USA.
Scanning is a hobby of many!



CB radios don’t require a license, but HAM radios do.

Scanners are illegal to have in vehicles in many states.


"I can live like a king because I work like a dog." ~ An anonymous vandweller


Exactly. @becida you should consider the answer of Van_Dweller. There is a difference.


What difference you’re talking about?


Thanks, I took a look at the CB laws & I see things have changed since the 70’s, no licence required!

I’m not up on what the different states outlaw but I’m unaware of any required licence to just listen to a radio.



Here’s an article about scanners:

Now regardless of the laws, if the police find you have a scanner, even where it isn’t illegal, it raises their suspicions. Our lifestyle is already sketchy in their opinion, and a scanner makes us look even sketchier. CB radios don’t invoke an adverse reaction.


"I can live like a king because I work like a dog." ~ An anonymous vandweller



I will give my take on this question based of personal experience. For the most part CB is dead. I have found that although a lot of truckers have them they do not use them as much as one might think. With the proliferation of smartphones and always on mobile internet that rivals household broadband connections, it is Making CB’s sadly a thing of the past.

A far as the best thing to have, my suggestion would be to obtain a technician class amateur radio (ham) license. This will allow you to have a broader range of communication options and the social benefits are wonderful. It allows for one to experiment with various transmitters. One can even build and operate their own (home brew) equipment. The licensee has the added benefit of being exempt from most scanner laws in the majority of jurisdictions.

If you need assistance there are many great organizations that would love to help get you a ham license. For example, the American radio relay league (ARRL) is a wonderful resource. Their website, http://www.arrl.org has a wealth of information.