THE SMART ROUTE

| July 15, 2009

Truckers call on a wide variety of route-planning tools, from software to the trusty road atlas, to save both time and money


Time is money, especially when you’re hauling a time-sensitive load ticketed for a narrow delivery window at a location thousands of miles away. How you chart your course may make a difference in your wallet. Make a mileage miscalculation or ignore a weather advisory and you pay the price in wasted time and lost pay.

Today, there is help in several forms, from satellite-based GPS systems and sophisticated route-planning software designed for truckers to carrier-supplied programs that script your every move to the dependable $20 road atlas.

Approaches to route planning vary from a heavy reliance on technology to calling on years of driving experience and familiarity with U.S. interstates and truck-permitted highways. Benn Kingsbury, of Eleva, Wis., who drives for Taylor Truck Line, is a road-tester for software developer ProMiles. He calls on that company’s Kingpin program and GPS to track his routes. “I found that I turn loads faster, which means more revenue,” he says. “For me as a company driver, that’s a positive.”

Owner-operator Ronald Penrose, of Castroville, Texas, leased to Landstar Ranger, reaches for his Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas and fires up his Landstar trip-planning program when he takes on a load. The atlas contains important phone numbers, such as state transportation department hotlines, while the software provides online access to road and weather conditions. “It’s a handy tool to make us more efficient and help keep our customers informed,” he says. “There have been times when I got loads at the same time as other drivers [who weren't as adept at planning], and I was able to deliver the loads sooner and avoid road closures and get another load.”

Ronnie Brockette, an owner-operator from Cooke

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