Reliable, easy to use, quick directions. These are the features that immediately come to mind when talking about the best truck GPS, but if you look deeper, there is more to it than that.
Planning out the route can get challenging and put a lot of stress on the truck driver, because there can be restrictions along the way that the driver may not be aware of, such as permissible loads, one-way roads, restricted traffic, turn restrictions, speed restrictions, construction projects, seasonal roads, detours or new roads, etc. When you have a long journey ahead, you may also need gas station locations, parking points and other services.
In our previous articles, Best Apps for Truckers and Best Truck GPS Apps for Professionals: Jump Right in and Find Your Way, we described the apps that can turn a cellphone into a GPS device, and now comes professional advice on how to choose the best GPS for commercial truck drivers.
- How GPS for Trucking Works?
- How to Choose the Best Truck GPS?
- Best Truck GPS Navigation Devices
- Is Google Maps Any Good for Truck Drivers?
How GPS for Trucking Works?
The GPS (short for Global Positioning System) is a system of satellites that can be used to determine the location of various objects, including vehicles, in real time.
Trucking GPS devices operate differently from GPS navigation systems used in personal cars. They can create routes based on the size and weight of the truck, because not all roads are suitable for big trucks.
A truck navigation system has many jobs:
- Optimized route planning.
- Turn-by-turn driving directions.
- Real-time updates alerting of high-traffic areas.
- Driver behavior monitoring.
- Information about truck stops, refueling stations, rest areas, etc.
- 24/7 truck driver community support.
The best truck GPS navigation devices incorporate a lot of cutting-edge technology purposely designed for these types of vehicles. For example, they can calculate the tolls and their locations after the route is identified, and show how to avoid tolls whenever possible. A GPS for tractor trailers allows you to input the exact dimensions of your big rig, and then leads you to the route with no short overpasses or bridges. The electronic log that keeps track of hours in motion, mileage and breaks is often used for fleet management.
The proper use of a truck navigation system empowers truck drivers to drive safely and helps to prevent many accidents.
How to Choose the Best Truck GPS?
Without truck driving GPS navigation systems, we would probably still be driving with maps on the dashboard, asking the copilot to check the route every ten minutes and getting lost all the time. Fortunately, a GPS navigation device is a popular device that many truckers have in their vehicles today.
What is the best GPS for truck drivers? When looking for the best option for truckers, you should consider several factors essential to your specific needs.
When buying a GPS for tractor trailers, there is often a question of screen size. The choice is often determined by personal preferences and the purchase budget.
Many truckers note that navigation devices with a screen size of less than 5 inches are not very convenient to use while driving. The screen displays too little information and the image is not sharp enough.
Numerous surveys conducted among users of navigation for semi trucks show that 5 to 7 inch navigation devices are a common choice among tractor owners who prefer not to pay too much for this device. With this screen size, the sufficient usability of navigation programs can be achieved. The usual display resolution is 480 by 272 pixels, which allows it to show a fairly clear picture.
The best truck GPS with 8 to 10 inch displays offer a bright, crisp high-resolution image in landscape or portrait view. Their owners are unlikely to ever have to zoom the map to view a desired area in more detail, because all the information is always right before their eyes.
Easy to Use
Another distinctive feature of the best truck GPS navigation devices is that they are easy to use. GPS devices with a convenient interface and easy-to-operate controls can be used even by inexperienced truckers.
Top-ranking GPS navigation devices are equipped with a touch screen and hands-free controls that make life easier. You can rely on the voice assistant and focus on the road. It will help you complete various actions while driving, for example, you can change the route without stopping, listen to and send text messages, and make phone calls without taking your hands off the wheel.
Truck driver working hours are very different from the typical schedule of most workers. They spend most of their lives on the road, cut off from many channels of information. Knowing what is going on around you can be essential. GPS navigation devices for truck drivers can have special features providing information, such as fuel prices, high-traffic highways, and even a good place to eat or to sleep in an unfamiliar area.
While choosing a GPS navigation device, few truck drivers think about how they will mount the device on the dashboard, while they should, as this is a very important matter. You may be surprised to know how many drivers are dissatisfied with their GPS because of poor mounting options.
A truck GPS usually comes with an installation kit that includes a suction cup to mount the device on the windshield, and a charger. The location for installing the GPS navigation device in the car is selected by each driver individually. It all depends on the driving style and other habits.
Below are some tips on how to install a portable navigation device.
- The device must not block the driver's view.
- Since the device has a built-in antenna, it must not be covered completely by the roof.
- The charging cable must be long enough to reach the device without removing it from the mount.
- The mounting angle should provide maximum visibility of the screen from the driver's seat.
- Avoid direct sunlight on the screen, making it difficult to read from the display.
Follow these tips, and you will not need any professional help installing the gadget properly.
The big problem with certain GPS devices is a lack of long-term support, such as updates to maps and POIs. Maps get outdated, potentially causing problems, for example when new restrictions are introduced along the route you are taking.
Keep in mind that certain types of software not included in the monthly subscription can cost you. You may end up paying extra to download special features.
Learn the terms and conditions on continued map and software updates before buying a GPS. It is worth reading actual user reviews, as these may help you decide if you really need some of those updates.
Storage space is important: the more memory that’s available on the device, the more maps you can download. If the device has a large amount of memory or the option to expand it with an SD card, you can download maps with detailed descriptions of roads.
Best Truck GPS Navigation Devices
Our top five rankings of truck GPS navigation devices begin with the inexpensive (only $78.26), but fully featured Xgody 9 Inch Truck GPS.
- Nine-inch high-resolution touchscreen.
- RAM: 256MB, internal memory 8GB.
- User-friendly interface design.
- Free lifetime 2D and 3D map updates.
- Maps include the United States, Mexico and Canada.
- You will never miss an exit or turn with the Advanced Lane Guidance technology.
- Convenient search through addresses, places on maps or postcodes.
- Selection of voices for turn-by-turn navigation.
- Offers a range of security alerts including red light cameras, speed cameras, railway crossings, high accident zones, construction areas, etc.
- Supports multimedia functions: you can enjoy a movie or music while driving.
- A built-in rechargeable 2000mAh Li-ion battery.
- The battery lasts only about an hour on one charge.
- Sometimes runs and responds slowly.
- Some users complain about charging issues.
- The screen is relatively fragile.
- Some maps are very inaccurate and some addresses are not available.
- Stops sticking to the windshield very quickly.
The Xgody 9 Inch Truck GPS is a good choice for its money, with advanced functionality and free updates.
Another good choice, especially for the price $64.99, is OHREX N700 GPS Navigation for Car Truck RV.
- Seven-inch touchscreen.
- RAM: 256M, Internal Memory: 8 GB Samsung SSD.
- Pre-installed 2D and 3D maps, including USA, Canada and Mexico.
- Customized routes according to vehicle’s dimensions and weight.
- Realistically voiced turn-by-turn notifications.
- Displays the current speed and estimated time to arrival.
- A 3000mAh lithium battery.
- Reliable dashboard mount.
- The US brand OHREX offers regular maps upgrades and 24/7 support.
- The highway speed and weight limits listed are out of date.
- There are no automatic updates.
- No Bluetooth support: the owner has to download updates to a memory card and put the card (not included) into the unit.
- Announcements are made too late, and you can miss your turns and merges.
Large display, ease of mapping routes and low price go some way toward making up for the issues of the OHREX N700 GPS Navigation device.
The TomTom Trucker 620 6-Inch Gps Navigation Device offers some of the best-in-class smartphone support and at $275.99, has impressed many truck drivers.
- Six-inch high-brightness and sunlight-readable touchscreen with a 480 x 272 resolution.
- Connectivity options: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi.
- Regularly updated USA and Canada maps for large vehicles with specialized routing for hazardous cargo, vehicle size and weight.
- Free lifetime updates.
- Details on more than 1500 fuel stations, parking locations and service centers for large vehicles.
- Secured by a specialized click-and-drive active magnetic mount.
- Hands-free calling and text-to-speech.
- The CPU is a bit sluggish, and it takes too long to load new requests.
- Does not offer alternate routes as you proceed to your destination.
TomTom is the best choice for a commercially driven vehicle, offering the best value for money.
The Rand McNally TND 1050 for $997.00 strikes the imagination with its superior navigation functionality.
- An Android tablet and GPS device in one.
- Ten-inch touch-sensitive display.
- Heavy-duty anti-glare screen.
- Upgraded Rand navigation with 33% more truck-specific road data than other GPS providers.
- Access to any destination, address or POI from a single-row search box.
- Enhanced mapping and graphics: switches the map view between 3D map, North up, or Heading up.
- Specialized routing for hazmat; empty or loaded vehicles; straight, 48', 53', double and triple trailers; according to height and width; fastest or shortest route.
- Choose from three distances at which you want to be warned about an upcoming turn.
- Options for media, alarm and alert volume, do not disturb, and default sounds.
- Displays a wide range of information concerning your current trip.
- Three mounting options.
- Slow at times.
- It is big and consumes a lot of space.
- Has issues finding certain locations.
The Rand McNally TND Tablet 1050 is designed for professional drivers, and it smashes the competition with its best-in-class truck navigation experience and a plethora of special features.
Garmin is the market leader in the truck GPS space, and its Garmin Dēzl™ OTR810 with Night Vision – Wireless Backup Camera for $983.65 has a lot of admirers despite the high price.
- Eight-inch easy-to-read touchscreen with a landscape or portrait view.
- Check the arrival time and make calls using voice commands.
- Bundled with a night vision backup camera.
- Customizes routing based on the size and weight of a truck.
- Alerts about upcoming limits, such as weight and height restrictions, sharp curves and steep hills, etc.
- Provides aerial views of loading docks, truck entrances and security gates.
- Sends notifications about the best places for fuel stops, comfort breaks and overnight stays on the route.
- Filters truck stops by brand or amenity.
- Compatible with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones.
- Integrated map updates of North America that the US.
- Heavy traffic and weather notifications.
- Lacks automatic brightness adjustment.
- When adjusting/shaping the route by points, the OTR 810 fails to show information about whether the new route is faster/slower, and the difference in distance and time.
- The monthly subscription does not allow free access to all the special features, and you have to pay extra.
The Garmin Dēzl™ OTR810 with Night Vision – Wireless Backup Camera is a very popular device among truck drivers thanks to its user-friendly interface, a nice set of vehicle and driver tools, and a professional route planner.
Is Google Maps Any Good for Truck Drivers?
Many car drivers rely on Google Maps for traveling. It is helpful for finding exact directions, fuel stations or restaurants on the way from point A to point B.
But, is Google Maps indeed good for truck drivers, as many claim it is?
There are some aspects for professional truck routing to take into account:
- Truck drivers need to comply with the government rules for long-haul trucking. For this reason, their GPS app needs to keep track of their hours of work and mandatory driving breaks, and manage their workloads. Google Maps is nowhere near managing these things.
- Big rigs do not move as quickly on the road as cars. Commercial GPS apps can account for the vehicle type and its speed to avoid late deliveries and other issues.
- Truck drivers have to consider many special factors, such as the size of the vehicle, its weight, the height of bridges, etc.
In other words, truckers can use Google Maps for finding POIs, but it is not good as a dedicated GPS navigation device, as it does not give you the ability to adjust the input info based on the unique features of your truck and job.
As you can see, there is a huge gap between commercial trucking and personal driving. Truck driving requires a lot of professionalism and a high level of responsibility. GPS navigation devices are designed to make truckers’ tough work safer, more efficient and more comfortable.
A high level of staff proficiency is the fundamental resource of HMD Trucking. In turn, we strive to provide our valued truck drivers with every high-tech device to help on the road, including the best truck GPS navigation systems.
If you want to join a company that takes the safety and comfort of its employees seriously, apply for a job at HMD Trucking now.