Figuring out where you need to go is Rule #1 of OTR trucking jobs. Your route will either make or break you, so planning out your directions along with alternate routes, is detrimental to your days. Enter the world of technology.
Everything from smartphone apps to truck driver GPS units are available to help drivers get to their destination via the shortest and quickest route. Here are a few top picks in this department.
Truck Driver GPS Devices
While GPS units have almost gone the way of cassette players, it’s handy to have a portable GPS unit in your rig. After all, what if your cell phone loses cellular service while you are searching for directions? Cell phone batteries are also notorious for dying at the worst possible moment. Having a separate GPS unit installed and up-to-date with maps is an ideal backup plan. If you need to replace an old school GPS unit, or you are in the market for a GPS for commercial truck drivers, here are the top brands to consider are:
- Rand McNally
You can find trucker GPS units at truck stops, as well as online at Amazon. For example, search for trucking GPS units on Amazon and you’ll find more than 20 different models. Prices range from $55 to $520, and you can find cheaper models that are used or refurbished. Start by looking at the reviews to see what other truckers have to say about the GPS units. Then narrow down the units according to your budget. Keep in mind you will be able to deduct the purchase as a business expense when you file your income tax return. At this point you should have a good selection of units that are realistically within your reach. The next step is to decide which features mean the most to you:
- Display sizes range from 4 to more than 7 inches in diameter
- GPS battery life range, which is typically 1 to 4 hours
- Your preference between a city tour or street map
- Additional GPS features, such as free lifetime map updates, voice command, Bluetooth capabilities, and the inclusion of real-time traffic updates
As you will discover there are a variety of trucker GPS devices on the market. For you it’s just the matter of finding that one device that best suits your trucking route needs.
Truck Driver Apps for Routing
At the same time, trucker GPS units can be pricey. Plus keeping the maps updated on GPS units is difficult as roads are constantly being constructed and renamed. That’s where a trucker route app becomes a handy tool. Some of the most successful truck driver routing apps include:
- Trucker Tools by Overdrive
- Truck Miles by ProMiles Software
- Trucker Path Pro
Trucker Tools by Overdrive
Trucker Tools is available on Android and iOS with updates as frequently as a few months ago. The app itself is an all-around trucking app, doing everything from tracking freight to finding truck stops. However, the most impressive tool is Trucker Tools Routing and Fuel Optimizer. It gives you detailed directions, as well as fuel pricing and truck stop information along your route.
Truck Miles by ProMiles Software
This is a website that you can bookmark on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. It’s a free download that lets you enter your starting point and destination along with trip profit information. Calculate your results to handle your truck routing plans.
Trucker Path Pro
Another free mobile app, Trucker Path Pro lets you visualize your route on a map along with information about weigh stations, fuel stops and trucker parking. You can click on a place and get a user review to see if it’s worth your time to stop. Another helpful feature allows truck drivers to change availability of trucker parking and weigh stations. You can mark a parking lot as full, or nearly empty, and alert truckers to which weigh stations are open.
If you are a truck driver with a smartphone and cellular access, and you suddenly need to route your rig or find an alternative route, you are going to go straight to Google Maps. This is a free app that is part of most smartphones. Offering the benefit of Google mapping satellite technology, you can look up actual photos of the exterior of buildings and streets. Real-time traffic, toll roads, and nearby landmarks are also included to help you choose the best routes around. Google Maps also features an audible voice that directs you from road to road, just like the sophisticated GPS units.
A Combo Deal
In reality thanks to the ever changing world of technology, you want to have a combination of routing tools on hand, such as:
- A paper atlas, preferably spiral bound with laminated sheets for dry erase markers and to keep the paper from tearing with use
- A mobile GPS unit made specifically for truck drivers
- At least one truck driver app, if not several; try them out to see which ones work best for you
Covering all of your bases will help keep you out of the weeds when finding your next trucking route.