Tag Archives: road restrictions

Seasonal road restrictions for truck weights

Truck drivers face a confusing array of road restrictions that they need to be aware of to avoid penalties, fines or even losing their licence. Road restrictions can be anything from weight or height limits to hazardous materials or seasonal weight restrictions.

We’ve discussed before how truck drivers can make their life a lot easier (and less chance of getting on the wrong side of the law) by using a GPS system that can follow relevant road restrictions.

But how about considering a specific example of a road restriction, such as seasonal weight limits?

Seasonal weights make for complex road restrictions

Many states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, have implemented seasonal weight restrictions to minimize damage to highways. The basic reason behind this is due to the dramatic temperature fluctuations that occur in these states at certain times of the year thus affecting the road’s strength to support heavy vehicles.

For example, during the period from December 1 to May 1 of every year, state highways in Wisconsin withstand an extreme range of moisture and temperature conditions from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to +70 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes them far more vulnerable to cracking or potholing from heavy vehicles.

From the chart below you can see that there are different times of the year and different areas where weight restrictions are enforced. This is just one example of road restrictions but emphasizes how important it is for drivers to try and automate these route limitations as much as possible.

You can learn more about how a truck GPS can be set to observe road restrictions and route a heavy commercial vehicle in safe and legal way.

Seasonal weights mean making thorough pre-trip checks

Of course it impacts on more than just navigation since, in some instances, it’s not sufficient to just re-route the truck due to a lack of alternative roads. The load will just need to be redistributed to make sure it complies with the relevant weight restrictions.

An overloaded truck is not just a safety hazard; it can mean heavy fines (no pun intended) and even loss of licence. This is not good for the driver or the firm.

How can fleet managers make sure their drivers are thoroughly checking their vehicles before embarking on a journey?

One method that has been very successful is using a feature found in Telogis Mobile™ that requires drivers complete a pre-trip inspection report and confirm it via their on-board GPS device (or PND).

Setup a vehicle safety checklist in Telogis Mobile to check for things like DOT compliance as well as other requirements such as seasonal weighting before starting on a journey.

Having the checklist makes sure that vehicles are safe and legal, covering a range of pre-trip inspections including FMCSA requirements such as brake lines, lighting, suspension, and many other categories.

Keeping the load to a minimum

Driving can be a taxing job so it’s best for everyone when much of the compliance workload can be kept to a minimum with smart GPS tracking software that not only navigates around road restrictions but keeps drivers and vehicles safe with built-in pre and post-trip inspection reports.

Truck route GPS

When it comes to GPS for truckers, one feature is probably a whole lot more important than the rest – truck routes. Knowing that their portable GPS unit can navigate their vehicle safely and legally along designated truck routes gives drivers great peace of mind.

What are some aspects of an advanced GPS that provides reliable truck routes?

  • Weight restrictions – Trucks are often a lot heavier than normal vehicles and are thus blocked from using certain routes, to avoid damaging the roads or disturbing a quiet zone. Trucks that ignore these restrictions run the risk of fines, loss of licence or even their truck (not to mention vigilante action from residents!).
  • Height restrictions – Watch out for bridges. This is a far more common problem than you might think. In one report, 1,400 bridge collisions were recorded in the New York State alone over a 15 year period. It seems they were mostly attributed (81%) to truckers using non-commercial or outdated GPS systems that failed to advise them of overpasses that were not high enough for their vehicle. It’s probably timely to reiterate the number one rule of using GPS navigation and that’s ‘never switch off your brain’!
  • No U turns – Due to the size of your vehicle and the volume of traffic, U turns may present a safety hazard for certain vehicles.
  • Hazardous material – Hazmat restrictions are particularly critical when it comes to safe and legal trucking. Restrictions may include such things as making sure trucks avoid driving near waterways if carrying toxic waste. Trucking companies can face huge fines if hazmat restrictions are ignored or violated.

Obviously navigating a larger vehicle presents a lot more challenges for the driver than your average automobile. It’s no wonder then that road restrictions and finding a reliable GPS that can follow the right truck route are so important to drivers and fleet managers. So how can drivers make sure they are using the right tools to keep them out of trouble and on the right side of the law, and their bosses?

It starts with knowing what gear is out there and what it should be able to do. To make sure you’re GPS is complying with truck road restrictions, review a few things you need to look for in a PND that’s suitable for larger vehicles and trucks.

Smart routing with custom map layers

Aside from a state’s road restrictions that may legally require a driver to take a certain route because of the size, weight or cargo of the truck, there are also some situations where it may be advantageous to route a truck along a particular path, or to a specific destination to the meter.

What are some situations where custom map data can provide superior GPS routing?

One example may be a supply chain where trucks have specific loading or unloading zones. Imagine a truck driver making a drop-off to a large warehouse that accepts hundreds of deliveries every day? They may have several delivery points and a truck driver may have to waste time finding out from staff where exactly to deliver. Using a custom map overlaid on a driver’s GPS device (or PND) routing can direct a truck straight to the specific drop-off point saving time, improving customer service and helping drivers be more productive and less stressed. That’s what we call in the business, a win-win situation.

If you’re a fleet manager who wants the best for his fleet and his customers then we’d have to put a plug in for Telogis Fleet. It’s a comprehensive GPS fleet tracking solution that is preferred by some of the largest fleets in America. They may not be the cheapest but they’re the best, and in the long run that’s always the smart choice.

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.