Today’s electronic trucker-specific navigational tools provide a wealth of information to help you save time and money in delivering your loads. For a few hundred dollars, affording a laptop computer or a smartphone and an Internet connection, you can efficiently find your way from pickup to destination.
Planning the shortest route is only the beginning. Primary players in the navigational tool market provide programs with everything from detailed maps, accurate mileage and millions of points of interest to the latest construction nuisance. Some will serve weather information or direct you to the proper lane in making your next freeway exit. You can plug in multi-stop itineraries or find the closest Wal-Mart. You can be alerted to time zone changes, state boundaries and upcoming speed limits. “It really reduces driver distractions and worries,” says Rand McNally spokeswoman Amy Krouse.
Using an electronic navigation tool offers practical advantages in addition to saving miles and minutes. “If I’m running out of hours, I can go into the route and see cities that are along my route and look at POIs and find a truck stop that’s available,” says Mark Kling, a former company driver who is the lead beta tester for Rand McNally.
Kling feels that the navigational aid helps where it counts most — in your settlement. “Many times I was able to push out to five runs because I was able to get to places early, because I knew where I was going and could pick up another load at the end of the week,” he says.
Following are highlights of features of some of the top trucker navigational programs.
Common to all four of this system’s products is Know Before You Go technology that enables you to look at the entire route, with or without stops, and detect ahead of time restricted areas, such as low bridges or construction zones. Streets are color-coded to help a driver see these areas. “We can tell you ahead of time the location of a low bridge and enable you to take another route,” says Marleen Winer, vice president of business development.
Another recent technology is Smart Search, which allows you to enter an address with minimal information or pinpoint a more complicated address that could be confused with another similar location.
A new 7400 model has been launched at $349, with an estimated $50 option to add traffic alerts. Model 7100 is being phased out.
Rand McNally IntelliRoute TND
Available in models 500 and 700, this device offers detailed road construction information. An ETA feature takes into account construction en route and adds time or suggests an alternate route. This information is updated every two to four weeks and is available for download to customers.
Included is the Trucker’s Friend National Truck Stop Directory, which can be searched according to 70 different amenities, such as fuel cards and shower availability.
A Quick Planner feature enables you to put in the cost per mile or profit per mile for a load and decide whether to accept it. “You can do a quick comparison so that if you’re looking at a load board or a dispatcher is calling you and has two opportunities, it can quickly calculate miles and give estimated times and send it back to you” so you can make a decision quickly, Krouse says.
You can zoom in on the map of your route and find upcoming details such as turns and elevation changes. “Instead of totally concentrating on that road and trying to guess where that road will be going I can glance down and zoom in and get good indication of what’s ahead of me,” Kling says.