A GPS Navigator for Semi Truck Use

by Fred Decker
    Professional drivers can profit from the extra features of a truck-specific GPS.

    Professional drivers can profit from the extra features of a truck-specific GPS.

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    GPS navigation devices can be a boon for any motorist, providing crucial information about routes and points of interest along the way. Professional truck drivers have even more reasons to value a GPS, and several trucker-oriented models are available from major and minor manufacturers. In addition to the standard features available in consumer models, these GPS devices have a number of specific features just for truckers.

    Go Big

    The cab of a big rig is roomier than those in most passenger cars, and truck-oriented GPS models are designed with that thought in mind. Most have oversized 5-inch and 7-inch screens, for improved visibility and easier touch-screen operation. The speakers in truck models are more powerful than those in consumer GPS devices, to compensate for road and engine noise. Many also support external speakers, which can improve audio quality dramatically. Models with video inputs enable drivers to take advantage of the large screen by adding one or more rear-facing cameras to help with backing into unfamiliar spaces.

    Road Warriors

    Truckers view the road differently from other drivers, and trucker-oriented GPS units have a number of additional features designed to provide a trucker's-eye view of a given route. For example, many bridges and overpasses have height, width or weight restrictions. Trucker-oriented GPS devices maintain a database of those, and will warn the driver and suggest alternative routes if the current load exceeds those limits. Many will store multiple configurations in memory, so freelance drivers can alter their routes according to the load or customer. Most models can also calculate optimal routes based on fuel consumption or time constraints.

    Bean Counters

    Calculating routes based on fuel consumption is only one of the administrative functions offered by truck-oriented GPS units. Most provide a number of other logging features, including hours of driving and distance travelled in either miles or kilometers. Some offer trip-specific odometers, and can export their data to a computer or other tracking device. A wide range of these data points can be collated and displayed on a single "trip statistics" screen on some models. A few also offer drivers the opportunity to quickly update crucial details such as speed limits, if they've changed since the maps were last updated.


    Life on the road isn't all about driving, and most truck GPS devices are equally rich in conveniences. They'll suggest logical stopping places, calculating the distance you'll travel between stops, between weigh scales, and before needing to sleep. The built-in points of interest will include truck stops, maintenance facilities and tow services capable of accommodating a big rig. Some allow truck stops to be filtered by amenity, so for example you can choose only those locations with showers when you're stopping for the night.

    About the Author

    Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer who has written and blogged on food-related topics since 2007. Previously he sold computers, insurance and mutual funds. Decker was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

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