It’s safe to say that most truck drivers have adopted a GPS navigation solution. But often, the solution they choose is a consumer-grade navigation system such as Waze or Google Maps.

A truck GPS navigation solution goes far beyond consumer-grade navigation and accounts for many of the unique complexities faced by heavy-duty trucks.

What is truck GPS navigation?

Put simply, it’s an application that calculates the most efficient way to get from your current (or planned) location to your desired location, while considering the unique requirements of a heavy-duty vehicle.

How do truck GPS navigation solutions work?

At the core of a GPS navigation solution is the database maintained by the provider. Most providers are constantly updating their database with truck relevant information such as rest stops, truck parking, bridge heights, weight limits, speed limits, construction zones, and much more.

A truck GPS navigation solution uses a phone, telematics system, or specific navigation device to communicate with the Global Positioning System (GPS) system to determine the truck’s real-time location, speed, and direction.

Drivers will enter the specs of their truck (height, weight, etc.), whether they are hauling HazMat, and other load specific criteria before entering their destination.

When a destination is chosen, the navigation provider’s software uses its current GPS data and vehicle/load details within their truck-specific road database. It then calculates the most efficient, compliant route to the desired destination.

How are consumer and truck navigation systems different?

A truck GPS navigation system has the core functionality of a consumer solution but is customized to the unique needs of a heavy-duty truck. We’ll break this into two parts: features and the back-office experience.

GPS navigation features

Here’s a list of the factors truck GPS navigation solutions commonly factor into your routes that consumer-grade solutions do not:

  • Truck height and weight
  • Road weight limits and bridge height restrictions
  • HazMat road restrictions
  • Hours of Service compliance
  • Rest stops and truck parking
  • Weigh stations
  • Steep declines and tight turn alerts

Anyone who has had to backtrack because of an unexpected low bridge understands the importance of a navigation solution that factors in truck-specific criteria.

The back-office experience

Another notable difference between consumer and truck navigation solutions is back-office visibility. With a consumer GPS navigation solution, fleet managers and dispatchers typically have little to no visibility into the route a driver has been assigned.

With a truck GPS navigation solution, the back office can often view, plan, dispatch, and update routes. A few reasons why some fleets choose to do this:

  • Having dispatchers who specialize in route planning often leads to more efficient, compliant routes
  • It simplifies the process of planning a route with multiple stops and customer delivery window requirements
  • Dispatchers can sometimes find and assign additional load opportunities along an existing route, leading to increased revenue

The CoPilot Truck integration with Motive is one example of a strong navigation back office experience.

What are the benefits of a truck GPS navigation solution?

A truck-specific GPS navigation solution can be used to benefit your business in many ways, including:

Fewer miles driven

Between fuel and vehicle wear and tear, each mile driven hits the bottom line. With optimized routes and reduced out-of-route miles, you’ll get from point A to point B more cost-efficiently.

Improved on-time percentages

Late deliveries hurt customer relationships and can lead to a loss of future business. With fewer unexpected issues (e.g., having to turn around at a low bridge), you’ll be late less and keep customers happy.

Safer driving

Staying off roads with low bridges, steep declines, and tight corners can help avoid risky situations. Proactively planning for Hours of Service compliance and truck parking can reduce the temptation to speed to make up time.

Improved compliance

A truck-specific GPS navigation solution avoids roads where you’ll exceed the weight limit, accounts for HazMat rules, and helps proactively plan rest stops/truck parking to stay HOS/ELD compliant.

Key features to look for in a truck GPS navigation solution

While the features you need will depend on your business, here are some key features you should be looking for:

  • Vehicle size/class, bridge, and overpass restrictions
  • The ability to create multiple truck profiles
  • Posted speed data and overspeed alerts
  • HazMat compliant routing
  • Real-time traffic updates and alerts
  • Rest stops, parking, and other points of interest
  • Integration with your ELD or fleet management solution
  • No additional hardware (uses the phone or ELD/telematics device)
  • Over-the-air updates
  • State line crossing alerts

Learn more about Motive’s App Marketplace and our integrations. For more information on key features, check out our article on choosing the right truck GPS navigation solution.

Truck GPS navigation is just the start

A navigation solution is an important part of running a safe, efficient fleet.

But, navigation is just the start. To compete in trucking, one of America’s most competitive industries, a modern fleet can (and should) do so much more.

That’s where Motive comes in. Motive is the fleet management solution built for modern fleets. With Motive, you can:

  • Manage drivers, vehicles, assets from a single dashboard
  • Easily dispatch routes to drivers through their ELD with pre-built navigation integrations
  • Help prevent collisions with dashcams
  • Reduce costs such as fuel usage and vehicle maintenance
  • Combat fuel fraud, support compliance, and get better visibility of your fleet operations with real-time GPS vehicle tracking

Read our guide about truck GPS navigation to learn more.