Staying Ahead of the Tech Curve

| September 22, 2009

Truckers’ adoption of high-tech trucking gear has improved operational efficiency – and even some truckers’ social lives


The days of getting by on nothing more than a CB, a map, an AM/FM radio and plenty of fuel and mechanical knowhow are things of the past for truckers. From GPS navigation to iPhone applications to specially designed mounting devices, the number of technological toys available is ever-increasing. Such equipment can help owner-operators manage their business, help all drivers stay in touch with loved ones, and more generally make the road that much better of a place to be.

In-cab tools
When looking to buy tools that can help with business aspects, truckers should consider several things. Foremost, put some thought into what the upfront cost will be, and think about whether the return on investment will be sufficient to merit purchasing that expensive piece of equipment. Is it something you will actually use?

New Century Transportation Driver John Jensen, 42, of Carlisle, Pa., says he has not regretted his decision to take the tech plunge. He primarily uses in-cab tech to help with routing. “A couple of years ago I got a laptop in the truck, and that was really great for finding customers and getting around,” Jensen says. “The laptop is mainly used for GPS.”

Jensen runs a Dell Inspiron E1405. “We run LTL, and I might have five or six stops during the day. I plug them into the map software and know exactly where I need to go. It probably takes 10 or 15 minutes, and I have the whole day mapped out for myself.”

Jensen also gets some extra help from a newer toy; in May he bought an iPhone, “which is a wonderful piece of technology,” he says. “It helps me out more than the laptop sometimes, being able to get on Google Maps and see a satellite view of an area.”

Google Maps, a free service offered by online search-engine powerhouse Google, allows users to look at a traditional map or “street view,” an interactive recording of what the area actually looks like. Google hires drivers to take video of streets using 360-degree cameras, then compiles the available images to create the street view. “If I get on Google maps,” Jensen says, “I can see, well, ‘this building looks pretty industrial.

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