Custom mapping app Trucker Notes designed by an independent to save parking information

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No, it’s not Thanksgiving again …No, it’s not Thanksgiving again …

Though the message remains relevant. That picture, too, just so happens to be of Long Island, N.Y.-based independent owner-op Debbie Desiderato’s 2012 Kenworth T660, when it was featured with our 2016 Thanksgiving message along with this story.

Desiderato also happens to be the owner-operator behind a smartphone application launched within the last few months that she came to with hopes of creating a way for herself and other truckers to save their notes about locations visited along their routes, chiefly nontraditional parking places but also plenty more, as she’s found utilizing the app she had built by a developer over the last several months.

The new “Trucker Notes” app is free and available for download to iOS and Android devices.The new “Trucker Notes” app is free and available for download to iOS and Android devices.

The new “Trucker Notes” app is free and it’s based on basic mapping applications but allows for custom pins on the map to be saved according to their category.

“I’m independent,” Desiderato notes, so “whenever I go to a shipper or a receiver, I automatically look around for parking whether I’m staying there or not.” If she sees a spot somewhere that looks like it could make for a good space to rest, or if personnel there tell her longer-term parking is welcome, or  if there’s a nice wide spot in that industrial park and a dearth of “no truck parking” signs, “I’ll drop a marker on the map and enter a little bit of information.” When you tap the map where you want to drop a marker, “a pop-up box comes up and you can enter information about the location.

“As truckers, we go to so many places, it’s hard to keep track.”

As noted above, she adds, “It began with parking, but there’s a whole lot of uses for it. I’ll write down and take note of the rates that I’m getting out of that shipper and the broker I’m using — and the last date I used that broker. At the end of six months, I’m out of the noncompete” in many cases — good to know and remember for calls to potentially drum up direct business. “I also add alternative places to eat. I travel with a dog, so I’m always looking for the perfect motel for a 34. It’s got to be dog-friendly and have a restaurant and a bar — I’m pretty fussy.” Should she find that perfect motel, you can bet it’ll also become a point of interest on her map.

And ultimately, it is her map, indeed — as is the map of any user of Trucker Notes. Information you store in the utility is not shared with the community, unlike in crowd-sourced apps out there for parking locations and so much else. At this stage, customization of maps in Trucker Notes is stored purely locally, on your device. Desiderato notes she’s working with her developer on hosting each account’s information on external servers in order to ease transitions from phone to phone, or sharing of a single account’s maps between multiple devices. “The issue will be resolved in about 15 days,” she says.

With all the emphasis on information sharing, particularly as it relates to parking, while there have been upsides, for certain, Desiderato sees negative consequences as well. The well-known, popular Trucker Path app, offering readers ability to share availability information about the multitude of truck stops and other fueling locations around the country, also happens to highlight Walmarts where parking has traditionally been available. Desiderato believes extensive use of the app — it’s certainly been a well-utilized resource among truckers these last few years — has had the unintended consequence of driving more traffic to those places, with lockdown results at many, as any Overdrive reader over the last year will know is a reality at a variety of Walmart outlets.

Think of Trucker Notes as just what it sounds like, in essence — your own personal digital notepad for anything associated with a location. With her own use of it as she and her developer worked out the kinks over the last few months, “I’ve realized that the app has got me looking out for parking constantly. If you’re constantly looking and taking notes …” Well, information she’s put into the app has “saved my a– so many times. I won’t pay for parking again, and haven’t since I created the app. I refuse to do that, because I don’t need to.”

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