Tag Archives: navigation

More miles. More risk. Why better routing is a safety thing.

truck-driver-safetyYou don’t need to be told that the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident. Even if you’re the most careful truck driver out there you unfortunately need to share it with a lot of unsafe drivers (you possibly have other words to describe them).

Unfortunately, as a professional driver you need to be on the road. You know well the saying that if the ‘wheels aren’t turning, you’re not earning’ but to avoid becoming a statistic there are some ways to mitigate the risks.

Safer trucks have helped but records show that truck occupant fatalities have increased from 0.16 per million miles in 2009 to 0.21 in 2014. Increased traffic on the roads have no doubt contributed to the increase.

While safe, defensive driving helps there are some clever ways to use new tech to make each trip safer – by making it shorter.

Driving less miles is better for everyone

When you’ve been driving the same route for a long time you probably think you already know the best route but when you’re driving an 80,000lb 18-wheeler you generally have a few more challenges finding the best route compared to the average motorist.

And when you run a fleet of trucks, across different routes with different pickup and delivery requirements you can easily be driving more miles than you have to. Aside from the reduced risk that come from minimizing mileage there are other benefits:

  • Reduced fuel spend – With average economy for a large truck around the 6 mpg mark it make sense to curtail your gas bill where you can.
  • Less wear and tear on the truck – You most likely paid over a quarter million for the truck and trailer; make sure you get your money’s worth.
  • Improved profitability for each job – If you’re driving more efficiently between jobs then you’re getting a better return – and spending less time doing it.

So what’s involved in finding the best route for every job? Here’s how a little bit of tech wizardry can help.

Finding the best route for big trucks

As you know, if you’re driving a big rig there are some restrictions on what routes you can take. Some municipalities may restrict vehicles over a certain weight or size. If you’re carrying hazardous materials there’ll also be roads you can’t take. Then there are the practical concerns such as having sufficient room to maneuver or crossing lines of traffic. The problem doesn’t stop just because you’ve arrived at the street address, in fact it can be significantly tougher as you navigate your truck through a tight parking lot or distribution yard.

This is when you realize that relying on something designed for consumers just isn’t suitable for commercial drivers. You need a fully featured commercial navigation solution that can consider all route restrictions to find the best one.

  • Legal routes – Route using only roads that are legal for the specific size, weight and load type of your truck.
  • Driver feedback – Routes updated frequently with feedback from over 150,000 professional drivers.
  • Right-side routing – Avoid having to cross lanes of traffic by making sure your destination is always on the same side as you’re traveling in.
  • Multiple-stop optimizationOptimize your delivery route based on the stops you need to make (see also customer time-windows).
  • Customer time-windows – If deliveries can only be made during a specific time window, you can specify this in the routing software.
  • Avoiding left turns or U-turns – Choose if you prefer to avoid making certain maneuvers, useful for areas with high congestion.
  • Traffic congestion – Avoid certain roads during periods of high traffic.
  • Road closures or detours – Update routing quickly to accommodate temporary road or lane closures.
  • Unique route hazards (blind corners, hidden exits etc.) – Add spoken notes that the navigation device can read out when approaching unique hazards along the way.
  • Narrow roads or low bridges/canopies – Using the dimensions of your vehicle, you can make sure that you avoid any structures your truck won’t get through.

Even when you’ve been driving for years it’s hard to figure out the optimum route when you need to factor in so many variables. Even just working out the best route when you have multiple stops soon gets into the millions of possibilities.

Safety starts with better routing

It’s not just reducing the number of miles (and thus your exposure to the risk of being in an accident) that better routing offers you – it’s also about helping you stay calm, confident and in control all the way to the final destination.

A Senior VP of Safety & Security at Schneider National has been quoted as saying that ‘a lost driver makes bad decisions and routes themselves into trouble.’ With reliable, accurate turn-by-turn navigation guiding you from start to finish, you can make sure there’s one less dangerous driver on the road.

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.