GPS For Truckers
For drivers everywhere, the only way to find your way used to be by picking up an atlas or map. Although atlases and maps are still being sold in truck stops across the country, truckers are finding more and more ways to get directions on the go. From laptops to cell phones, to stand alone units, GPS systems are everywhere. But deciding which GPS units to buy, or if you should buy one at all, is no easy task.
We’ve probably all heard some horror stories about GPS units, how they take truckers into heavily trafficked areas, advise unsuitable routes, or are just plain wrong. Engadget.com even reports that a trucker who followed a GPS system managed to get stuck in a small lane that was only suitable for very small vehicles. He even rolled right by the sign that advertised that fact! Still, GPS units aren’t always at fault. In fact, some truckers think GPS systems actually help them by helping relieve the constant study that following a truck atlas requires.
Truckers on the classadrivers.com message boards have quite a bit to say about GPS units. One of the favorites seems to be the Street Atlas 2008 from Delorme. A newer version of this program, the Street Atlas 2009, is now available from the company. Featuring software for cell phones, PDAs, laptops, and GPS units, the program offers mapping, directions, and business listings. Though message board drivers warn truckers to always consult their trucking atlases to insure the GPS is not taking them down a road unsuitable for truckers, this product can be beneficial for those who can’t seem to shake getting lost.
CoPilot offers a lap-top based GPS program specifically for drivers of eighteen wheelers, so the probability of getting stuck in a farm lane with product is fairly remote. The product offers to save money by avoiding areas out-of-route, areas with heavy construction, and routes that are fuel inefficient. The program sells for $195-$360, and claims it is the best program for professional truck drivers.
But perhaps the best GPS unit for professional truckers is one developed by professional truckers. A little different than the usual GPS, this unit was developed for fleet owners rather than drivers. According to truckinfo.net, Wayne DuBois was a fleet owner who needed to know where his vehicles were at all times. Because of this, he developed the Fresh Trak technology, which can now be used for everything from finding the location of one of the trucks in your fleet to regulating temperatures and providing securities for the cabs.
Regardless of what kind of GPS system you buy, whether you use it on a laptop, cell phone, or actual GPS unit, truck drivers should be cautioned not to rely solely on the GPS system. Doing so will might result in a situation similar to the one featured on Engadget.com, and no one wants to be in that predicament. Some truck drivers even caution others not to buy a GPS at all, but rather to stick to maps and atlases. Both, however, are great resources. When used together, they’re the best source of finding directions without getting stuck!