FMCSA recently begun warning truck drivers about using GPS navigation units that are meant for small passenger vehicles. They encourage drivers to use truck-specific GPS devices that take road restrictions, weight limits, and low bridge clearances into consideration. The recommendations came Monday at the site of a New York bridge that's commonly hit by trucks. In New York state, 80% of bridge strikes are a direct result from truck drivers failing to use the right GPS devices.
Why Trucker Friendly GPS Devices?
Some people are under the impression that truck specific GPS devices for truck drivers and car GPS devices are one in the same. They're not. A GPS made for use in a regular passenger vehicle will not take into consideration road restrictions, weight limits, etc. As a professional truck driver, this can get you into some trouble! Best to avoid getting stuck under a bridge from the start by investing in a quality trucker's GPS. They're a little pricier, but you'll make up for the difference in avoided tickets!
A truck-specific GPS will create the best route for you based on your truck's length, weight, and height. It won't take you on truck restricted roads. Take the time to enter all of your load and truck information into the GPS before taking off on your route to make sure you get the most accurate directions possible.
It's important to remember that a GPS is a tool...especially if you're a truck driver. It is not a substitute for proper trip planning. Don't think of it as an autopilot -- this is what gets you in trouble. There's this old-school thing, called an atlas. Truckers have used them for years. It's recommended that you double check the route the GPS generates for you with an old-fashioned trucker's atlas to ensure you won't run into any problems on the way. Make sure you input all of your load and truck configurations as well -- things like weight, height, and length will help the GPS plan the most efficient route for you. It's also helpful to call ahead on deliveries in case there are any special instructions, road closures, etc.
There are several different truck-specific GPS models out there, but the two most popular are the Rand McNally and the Garmin Dezl. On top of providing you with the most efficient truck route, the Garmin and Rand McNally GPS devices feature points of interest, lane guidance, and road conditions.