GPS- Necessary Or Optional?

Topic 21695 | Page 1

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Jmart's Comment
member avatar

I'm about to enter CDL training. And one question I have is if a GPS unit is considered a necessary piece of equipment once I go solo. If so, and if not able to afford the top of the line unit, are there "older" units that will get the job done and are user friendly? I'm looking for some personal experiences with different units.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Keith G.'s Comment
member avatar

I think most major carriers have GPS's already (Brett, Old School, Rainy?) I know my small company has some fairly standard trucking Garmin GPS/Log units installed.

Honestly, most modern GPS's will spot traffic hundreds of miles down your route and can offer time saving options. Granted I still have my road Atlas in the truck as a backup. I read enough maps in the military, I'm happy to let the fancy tech do the heavy lifting.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

A gps is another tool. I run a rand mcnally because it matches up with the printed atlas. I still carry and refer to my atlas when I’m not sure of a route. I have a love hate relationship with it. I would estimate it is correct about 85% of the time. My opinion—a printed atlas is mandatory and gps is optional.

Matt H.'s Comment
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I <3 my gps. I store every customer in it, by state, via longitude & latitude coordinates right to their driveway. Also it makes parking way easier, rest areas, truck stops, scales, weigh stations, walmarts, etc. I've also started a separate folder for "off grid" parking locations. ( places I can park for a 10 hour break that don't show up in any searches). I have every terminal & drop yard stored as well. Basically it's not just for navigation.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

G-Town's Comment
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A gps is another tool. I run a rand mcnally because it matches up with the printed atlas. I still carry and refer to my atlas when I’m not sure of a route. I have a love hate relationship with it. I would estimate it is correct about 85% of the time. My opinion—a printed atlas is mandatory and gps is optional.

I agree with PJ's answer. Many of the major carriers provide GPS technology. Swift's system is called Navigo.

It's fairly accurate and does have a "learning" aspect that can be manually invoked. Important if dispatched to the same location numerous times. The overriding issue with any of these systems is they do frequently lose the satellite connection, shut-down with little warning for a SW upgrade or occasionally reboot due to some set of circumstances. It's not a perfect technology...thus the importance of the hard copy Truckers Road Atlas.

Pianoman's Comment
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PJ is right--atlas is mandatory, gps is optional. I don't have a truck gps and my company's qualcomms don't have the navigation feature enabled. I plan most of my route using the atlas and use Google maps to figure out the final leg if it involves driving into a city. It's also helpful to call the shipper/receiver for directions.

The first few times I did a run without a gps I was nervous but now it's second nature. If I'm worried about missing a turn I just keep my phone open to Google maps so I can see where I am.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.
Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

An atlas should be your "go to" and a GPS is strictly optional. They aren't always accurate so use them with caution.

There are some truck safe gps apps for your smartphone. For giggles I tried out One20 and it was decent and it's free. You need to have a good bit of memory available on your phone or tablet that you run it on, because you have to download the maps so it's not constantly using data. Try it out and play with it and use that until you have the $ to get a dedicated GPS device. Me personally, I'd put GPS as one of my last purchases.. CB, fridge, etc. IMO are much more important.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

I'm going to take a slightly different view on this. I'm going to say that some sort of mapping software is mandatory in my opinion. It doesn't have to be a dedicated GPS unit. It can also be Google Maps or Mapquest or any of the various online tools. An atlas will help you plan out most of your route, but you'd be crazy not to take advantage of today's options for knowing your current location and what's around you.

In my opinion a driver should try to have every tool available in their arsenal.

I started driving in '93 before the days of Internet, Qualcomm , cell phones, and GPS. My only tools to navigate the country were an atlas, a CB, and a pen and paper to write down directions. When they came out with GPS and cell phones and Qualcomm it was totally life changing! The access to information, the convenience, and the ability to communicate from the truck was incredible.

You don't have to go out and buy a dedicated GPS unit, though you probably should at some point. Just make sure you have access to Google Maps, and if you're going into a really remote customer that's deep in the mountains or something then make sure you download an offline version of the map while you still have a good signal.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

I'm jumping on the, other than Brett, bandwagon; GPS is definitely optional. However, I would still use Apple/Google maps. Being notified of issues long before you get to them is convenient. My companies QualComm has the NaviGo feature as well. I've never used it. I plan my route using my phone GPS (car) and my Atlas. My company also sends suggested route info with every load as well as your fuel stop(s). The suggested route is the paid route. It only goes from major road intersection to major road intersection. If I need more detailed info for the 'final mile', than, I can request those instructions thru the QualComm. The customer directions though start where the suggested route goes "local". Our customer directions we receive will also tell us if there is parking on site allowed or not.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Prime has GPS routing built into our Qualcomm. I also use a Rand McNally 730 for my routing. There were a couple of times that I tried Google Maps, but I didn't like the fact that it would warn me of a delay, yet by the time I got there the delay was long gone. It just wasn't for me.

I see a GPS as a necessary tool to make me faster and more efficient at my job. Much as a nail gun replaces a hammer and nails, and a calculator replaces pencil, paper, fingers, and toes. While others are busy staring at their maps, I've already punched my address into both units and I'm rolling. Most of the time both GPS's will agree, but when they don't I'll look at both routes and adjust accordingly.

Sure a GPS can fail, lose power, reboot, or even possibly put you on a restricted route. But that's where a little experience and a lot of common sense comes into play. When in doubt, stop and look at the map. Every time. Yes I carry a hard copy Atlas and know how to use it. In flatbed I often get taken out into the boonies, so I need to be hyper aware of weight and height restrictions when I'm off the beaten path.

In a nutshell, technology is here, and it certainly makes us more efficient. I embrace it, but with a watchful eye.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.
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