Driving the right route is one of the most essential parts of a truck driver’s job. Timeliness is important in the industry, so getting lost can be a serious problem. Historically, truck drivers used maps, guidebooks and their knowledge of the roads to get around. Today, there is a better option: global positioning system maps, better known as a GPS.
GPS is almost omnipresent on the roads today. Many passenger vehicles (and an increasing number of commercial trucks) have built-in infotainment systems that include some form of GPS capability. Other drivers use their phones to get around. In addition to these options, there are many standalone units. This may leave you wondering how to choose the best GPS for truckers and whether you even need one.
Why Truckers Need a Good GPS
It is, of course, possible to get around using maps, road signs and your knowledge of an area. However, getting GPS in your truck is the smart thing to do.
Obviously, GPS has navigational advantages. You can quickly find possible routes to any destination. Following the best route is easy because you don’t have to remember turns or check your map. You just need to glance at the screen or listen for directions. The benefits add up when you need to take a detour. Most GPS units can quickly calculate a new route taking the detour into account.
Using a GPS map is often safer than conventional methods because you always know where you are going. Additionally, units designed for truckers often have pre-programmed details about where trucks can and cannot travel. They can even save you time on documentation, especially if you are using a GPS provided by your company.
What To Look for in a GPS
Having a GPS in your truck is advantageous. However, it can be difficult to figure out which one you should use. These are a few things to look for:
- Road Regulation Data: Your GPS should have information on what types of vehicles are allowed on each road. This is often available with units designed specifically for trucking. It can save you from making a turn onto a small road that doesn’t allow the vehicle you are in. Similarly, it can save you from low bridges and other routing problems.
- Fuel Stops: Optimizing your fuel pricing and stop time can help you to increase the profitability of your route. Trying to find the right fuel station based on road signs alone can be difficult. However, having a GPS that can quickly point the way is much easier.
- Screen Size: Find a unit that has a sufficiently large screen for your needs. You want it to be clearly visible without having to look too closely at the screen. However, you don’t want a unit that will obstruct your view too much. Finding the right balance of size is important.
- Trip Logging: Trucking GPS units can log your route and other key trip data. This is sometimes preferred by trucking companies. It can also save you a lot of time and effort on recording your route details.
- Good Navigation Software: Not all GPS units are made equal. Some are better than others at figuring out efficient routes. It is a good idea to look at reviews from other truck drivers to find what other people have found helpful.
- Traffic Information: Traffic can play a huge role in whether a route is good or not. The right GPS should have information on current traffic as well as traffic patterns. If a particular highway is usually busy during rush hour, you want a GPS that will take you another route.
Beyond the above features, you should look for the GPS that suits your needs and your truck. In other words, there is no single option that is the best for everyone. You need to find the right one for you.
What To Avoid
There are also some characteristics that you should avoid. Unlike the above, these are mostly not features. Instead, they are points of concern that you should look out for in reviews.
- Unresponsive: Most GPS units use touchscreens. Some of these are not sufficiently responsive. Look out for reviews complaining about laggy screens or slow response times.
- Wrong Size: If you can’t see around your screen or it is too small you need to peer closely at it, the GPS is the wrong size. Think about where you will mount it in your cab.
- Gets Hot: Sometimes GPS units get hot when they are running all day. Since you will likely be making long trips, you don’t want something that can’t handle that level of use. If it is getting hot, it will probably have a short effective life or become buggy.
If you can find a unit that checks most or all of the boxes in the previous section and none of those in this section, you will be in good shape. Finding the best GPS for truckers can take a little searching but it is worth it.