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Commercial GPS Choices for You

Author: Dave Thompson
Truck GPSThe introduction of global positioning systems was a big boon to truck drivers like you and me. Finally, we had something that wasn't a cumbersome book that could tell us where we were, how far off our trucking route that detour through Albuquerque got us, and what roads to take to get back on track. Okay, so GPS units weren't really all that impressive in the early days. I can’t tell you how many times I missed my exit thanks to “recalculating route”, but they were still useful. The technology has definitely improved, but there's always a catch.

Most GPS systems are designed for weekend getaways, not commercial truck drivers, so the route and road data you're seeing is meant for someone who's driving home from work or on a road trip with the family. There are some GPS units that are geared towards truckers though, so here's a quick rundown of some of the better choices available.

The Rand McNally IntelliRoute

Often considered the most advanced and most reliable commercial GPS unit on the market, the IntelliRoute features a clear seven-inch screen with high-def visuals, so it’s easier to read all the information it presents. It comes packed with maps and roads for both the US and Canada, along with a Multi-stop Routing Optimizer feature that allows a driver to program up to 10 stops in their route. The IntelliRoute can also be set  up to create custom routes and warnings, so you can take note of important details like detours and segments of road you want to avoid. Although it is expensive, all of the features it comes with make the IntelliRoute well worth the investment.

Worldnav 4300 Truck Routing GPS

This is a nice little gadget that fulfills numerous functions on top of being a solid GPS system. It comes with maps for Puerto Rico, all 50 US states (instead of just the continental US maps), and Canada. The unit itself is thin and easy to hold, though some may find that information can get blurry on the small 4.3" screen – but that doesn't happen often.

The Know Before You Go restriction in place means it only shows you trucking routes and permitted roads. This can be a limitation, but it is necessary for dodging things like low bridges and tolls as well as moving around in unfamiliar territory.

Apart from being a GPS, it also plays mp3s, so when you're not looking up alternate routes, you can listen to some tunes instead.

Magellan Truck GPS

Boasting a seven-inch high-def touchscreen display, the Magellan RoadMate Commercial 9720 T-LM also has external A/V input for cameras. Apart from maps, it comes with added info like truck speed limits in certain areas, truck-specific routes, and any truck stops along the way. You can input vehicle information like height, weight, width, and length to eliminate certain routes based on the truck’s size.

Rounding out the features is Highway Lane Assistto, a tool to help you navigate some of the complicated highway interchanges encountered in the cities.

The CoPilot V8 Truck GPS System

This is a software solution that needs a bit more work than an actual GPS unit. What happens is that you get a CD that you load into a computer and a receiver – either Bluetooth or USB, depending on the specific unit you purchased – that attaches to it. What the CoPilot does is give you visual directions as you continue driving, showing up on the laptop's screen. The setup is easily integrated and runs side by side with electronic log books and any other programs you may be running on your laptop.

Aside from the rather gaudy setup, the system actually works quite well. It tosses in a fuel efficiency and cost estimator, which are always nice when you're trying to minimize spending on the ever-increasing price of diesel.

There You Have It

Well, that's my overview of some of the better commercial GPS systems available on the market. There's quite a bit of choice out there, so you can pick one that's both in your price range and does what you need it to.

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