Category Archives: GPS Units

What’s the best Truck GPS on the market?


Getting the right GPS for your truck is critically important

When you’re looking to buy a GPS device for your truck the first thing to realize is that it’s not the same as buying a standard GPS.

If you’re a truck driver you know you have special requirements and unique challenges when it comes to navigation. So it’s important you get a device that works, is reliable and doesn’t lead you astray, either missing your destination, costing you time or hitting you up with fines for driving restricted roads.

Looking for a total fleet management solution?

Before you rush out and buy an individual GPS for your truck, check first of all that a total fleet management and GPS tracking solution like Telogis Fleet isn’t a better option for your business. You can contact Telogis directly and they can advise on the best commercial navigation devices that will integrate with the whole management platform.

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How useful is truck GPS on an iPhone?

You might have heard of a navigation app now available for iPhone users that is aimed at the truck GPS market. The CoPilot Live Truck GPS-nav app is similar to other turn-by-turn navigation devices (such as Garmin, TomTom or Navman) but comes equipped with routing that complies with the relevant road restrictions based on the vehicle’s size, weight, width and load type. It claims to be compatible with the iPhone 4, 3GS and 3G, as well as the iPad 3G.

Would you use it, and why it might not be as useful as truck GPS navigation device should be?

PNDs for Truckers – What do they want?

With so many different devices available for truck drivers it can be confusing knowing what’s best. Sometimes it’s easier just to choose something a buddy has recommended or that runs on your phone, like an iPhone app. But this is where it’s important to take a step back and look at all the options.

It’s not just about thinking about your requirements as a driver, which might relate to the navigation device’s screen size, audio quality, view quality, POI detail or route accuracy, but it’s also important to consider the needs of the fleet business, or if you’re an owner-operator then how your PND should be part of a more comprehensive management tool, such as fleet tracking software.

You need more than just a dashboard device

Your iPhone is great for playing Angry Birds or replying to tweets on Twitter but aside from the smaller 3.5” screen size, it doesn’t do the whole job needed for navigating and managing your truck routes. There’s more to it than that and as we’ve discussed before there are plenty of truck GPS options out there.

Getting turn-by-turn directions is fine, but if that’s all you’re getting, even if it is complying with road restrictions, then there’s a lot you’ll be missing, particularly if you’re operating as part of a fleet. Telogis Route, for example, is part of a complete suite, or platform, which provides truck drivers with turn-by-turn directions following required road restrictions, but also coordinates that with other drivers in the fleet, preventing unnecessary miles and promoting better asset utilization, a key factor in keeping the fleet profitable.

Telogis Route can take a lot of the brain strain out of planning routes before you even leave the yard, basing route optimization on a wide range of factors including customer requirements, other drivers and their stops, as well as hours of service and efficiency. With some clever workload balancing and route optimization it then creates the turn-by-turn navigation needed by the driver, exporting it to their PND running Telogis Mobile, software that is compatible with a big range of in-dash devices.

Ready for total fleet management?

So while an iPhone app might be all you need right now, don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger and upgrade to a full fleet management solution. Most fleets report that the savings they make in the first four months pay for the cost of implementing it – positive ROI in around 120 days is good news, whether you’re a driver, fleet manager or owner it all adds up to a more efficient and profitable trucking business.

Texting while driving – Just as dangerous for truckers

Photo Credit: Islndr

Over the last few months we’ve seen a lot of campaigns to build awareness about the dangers of texting while driving. The DOT included it as part of their push to try and make drivers, particularly teenage drivers, realize that even a moment’s distraction can lead to tragedy.

One campaign that has gained a lot of publicity for the very real and very sad stories it tells is AT&Ts ‘Don’t text while driving’ documentary. The episode shown below covers several poignant accounts of lives lost tragically and for something as seemingly harmless as a 3-letter text message. Teenagers left dead or paralyzed for life for something that in hindsight was almost pointless. Is it worth dying for a ‘LOL’ or a ‘Where u at’? Many road users have paid the ultimate price for a txt message, whether they were the ones who sent it, or they were killed by a driver distracted by a text.

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EOBR ruling signals death of Driver Log Books

HOS compliance EOBR softwareA recent decision by the FMCSA will make EOBRs compulsory for all truck drivers sometime before June 4, 2015. This is because the rule will come into effect three years after publication of the rule, which FMCSA say will likely be published prior to June 4, 2012.

This differs from the requirement that any carrier that fails a DOT audit will be required to install EOBRs after June 1, 2012.

The only exception to this will be short-haul carriers whose drivers currently use time cards, primarily those of “property-carrying CMVs that do not require a CDL and who operate within a 150 air-mile radius of the driver’s normal work-reporting location under the current provisions.”

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How flexible is your truck GPS software?

When it comes to navigation and mapping tools, the only constant is change. Something that is up-to-date now will be obsolete in the near future as roads change, new highways are built or vehicle restrictions change.

These changes affect how you navigate from one point to the next, and if you’re stuck with outdated GPS software then it’ll quickly lose its effectiveness. You need to know whoever is providing the software, and the data it uses, has a keen interest in your industry and is responsive to both mapping changes and new technology.

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Truck GPS is more than just navigation

GPS devices built specifically for truckers are growing in popularity, and it’s no surprise. Truck drivers spend most of their working day driving so it makes sense if they make their job as easy and effective as possible.

While there are still a good percentage of truck drivers who like to stick with their trust paper ‘GPS’ otherwise known as a map, the majority of drivers realize the importance of using an electronic GPS to get to their destinations quickly, safely and with the minimum of stress.

So what are the main things truck drivers want from a GPS device?

Common complaints made by a lot of truck drivers with regard to GPS devices include:

Manufacturers of GPS devices (or PNDs as they’re sometimes known as) are starting to realize that truck drivers have specific needs that a lot of the devices out there are not currently meeting.

Building the ideal truck GPS

To fix the shortfall of GPS devices to meet the requirements of a truck GPS, is it simply a case of making the screen size bigger and connecting the audio to the truck’s sound system or an external amplifier?

A lot of devices are also now including software designed with truckers in mind, offering features such customized waypoints, truck POIs, maintenance reminders and multiple stops. Browse some of the different truck GPS units that are available now.

While a standalone device will provide a lot of help for the driver, fleet managers need more to effectively manage and support their team. That’s where fleet management software comes in.

Truck GPS fleet tracking for fleet managers

Fleet managers have different requirements to drivers. While drivers are more focused on their own truck and individual journeys, a fleet manager needs to keep a birds-eye view of the entire fleet. Fleet management software provides fleet managers with a single-screen dashboard that shows all vehicles and their current activity.

Having access to this information and setting up alerts for exceptions that break company rules (e.g. excessive speeding, HOS infringements) keeps a fleet manager informed and in control of the fleet. Telogis Fleet makes it easy for managers to customize the interface so they are kept up-to-date with what’s important to them.

Another side of fleet management often involves route planning. This can be anything from grouping jobs with a particular driver to save miles to doing cost analysis on a new client to see if it is profitable. Telogis Route factors all of the firm’s jobs, clients and drivers to create the most efficient and optimized routes based on route costs (including driver overtime and vehicle use costs). These optimized routes can then be sent directly to a driver’s GPS device using Telogis Mobile.

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Telogis Mobile is the software that runs the GPS unit that sits inside the truckers cab. We know that truck drivers have specific needs. Routing software that is built for consumers doesn’t understand the rigors of driving trucks for a living. Aside from the road restrictions that can hurt a driver or company in the back pocket, there are other issues like being unable to make u-turns or wanting to avoid tollways and dangerous left-hand turns. There are also POIs that are specific to truckers such as designated weight stations, truck stops and refueling stations.

What makes it possible for Telogis Mobile to offer truck-specific features is the very powerful, yet very flexible, Telogis GeoBase, mapping software that can be customized to offer routing based on road restrictions and show custom map layers for truck specific POIs.

Truck GPS is more than just navigation

If truck drivers are only using their GPS unit for turn-by-turn navigation they’re missing out on a lot of the benefits of having a vehicle use GPS tracking. Anything from automated maintenance reminders to optimizing asset utilization to make sure fleets are providing a healthy ROI.

In future articles, we’ll discuss other ways fleets and truck drivers can get more from their GPS systems, making their job easier and more profitable.

How can truckers deal with road restrictions?

oversized-load-road-restrictionsAll roads are not always an option for trucks. Some roads have may have weight restrictions. Some may pass under bridges or other objects thus creating height restrictions. Others may be too narrow or too busy at certain times of the day and restrict larger vehicles from using them.

For truck drivers using GPS they need to make sure their navigation system knows about these restrictions and can route them accordingly.

Unfortunately a truck driver can’t blame his GPS for getting ticketed on a restricted road.

So how does a GPS system route to a destination taking relevant restrictions into account? There are a few factors involved to make this happen:

  • The PND needs be programmed to store road restrictions as well as receive updates (for new or changed restrictions). In most cases this requires the device to be able to store and display custom map layers. It also helps if the device is connected to a GPRS data service that can feed updated road restrictions.
  • The PND needs to know the truck’s attributes (e.g. current weight, height, width, length and cargo) so it knows which road restrictions apply. The device’s software should be able to allow the driver to enter this information in directly.
  • Whether the driver is able to make left-hand turn, U-turns or use toll-ways (while these parameters may not strictly be road restrictions, a truck driver may prefer to avoid having to make certain maneuvers or pay toll fees. For example, PNDs running Telogis Mobile allows some of these settings to be made on a per-user basis.

How does a GPS device know what roads are restricted?

One way that a GPS device can know about road restrictions is by allowing a custom map overlay to be loaded on to the device.

Custom map data, or GIS layers, are visual geospatial databases that contain information relating to points on a map. They generally follow a standard format, such as raster or vector.

This overlay is used, along with the truck’s attributes, to determine if a particular road can be used or not. If it is restricted, the routing program will find an alternative route to take that complies with all the relevant restrictions.

What are the benefits of using a GPS device with road restrictions?

Primarily the advantage of using a GPS device that includes road restrictions is that it improves the safety levels of both the driver and the general public. To keep commercial trucks off certain roads is vital, particularly if a hazmat load is being transported or the truck’s size poses a danger to other road users.

Because a GPS device is correctly routing based on road restrictions, drivers are also less distracted, allowing them to concentrate on the road ahead and driving safely.

Improving safety has other benefits, such as reducing the liability risk your fleet faces should anything go wrong. If a truck is on a road that it shouldn’t be and there’s an accident, insurance may not pay out.

There are financial benefits as well, such as avoiding infringements for taking restricted roads and taking inefficient routes when a driver realizes they’re unable to turn into a street.

With a GPS device keeping an eye on the road restrictions, it means drivers can do what they do best and drive with their eyes on the road.