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What is the best Truck GPS in 2018? With the advancement of the smartphone, reliability of Google Maps and even tablets such as the Fire HD it can be tempting to overlook standalone GPS devices.

This would be a mistake as dedicated GPS systems have a lot to offer the serious road user. With many offering lifetime map updates, live traffic reporting and hands free connectivity to your phone the GPS navigator is the natural choice for Truckers.

So which one should you opt for? That’s exactly what we will answer in this top 5 round up.

To see the results of our tests, head to the table below. For in depth reviews of each of our selected GPS systems, plus a dedicated buyer’s guide, keep on reading.


Best Truck GPS in 2018 – Top 5 Picks

TRUCK GPSNAMEDETAILSOUR RATING
TOP PICK:
Garmin Nuvi 57LM
GPS Navigator
System
Spoken Directions
Lifetime Map Updates,
Direct Access, and
Speed Limits
5" Display
TomTom GO 620
GPS Navigation
Device
Free Lifetime Traffic &
World Maps, Wifi
Smartphone connection
Msg, Voice Control
Hands-free Calling
6" Screen
Rand McNally TND530
Truck GPS
Lifetime Maps
Wi-Fi
5" Screen
Trucker Services
Garmin dēzl 770LMTHD
GPS Navigator
7" Screen, Logging
Trucker Services
& Routing
Fire HD 10 Tablet
Alexa, 10.1" 1080p
Full HD Display
32 GB

Top Rated Trucker’s GPS – The Reviews

Some of the main considerations when buying a truck GPS navigator are cost, functionality, quality of service, and level of support offered by the manufacturer.

We have used this criteria to select our top 5 systems, and then compared them based on their build quality, design features, durability, ease of onscreen programming, battery ratings, (and a whole lot more besides).

This has provided what we believe to be the most comprehensive appraisal of available systems you will find anywhere online today.

So with the results in, (drum roll please); our number one truck gps system for 2018 is…

1. TOP PICK: Garmin Nuvi 57LM Truck GPS

This is a high-quality, camera-compatible advanced GPS receiver with a dual-orientation 5-inch screen display.

This allows the display to be oriented wither horizontally or vertically. Also, it comes pre-loaded with 3 unique programs; FourSquare, Direct Access, and Garmin Real Direction.

It is also pre-loaded with Lifetime Maps which provides detailed maps of all the states with the exception of Alaska. Moreover, Lifetime Maps updates are provided free of charge.

It can also be connected to a BC-30 wireless backup camera. Moreover, its non-reliance on cellular signals ensures that its operations are unaffected by fluctuations in cellular network connectivity, and this can allow one to drive through remote regions that have poor cellular reception.

This light-weight, portable equipment is designed and manufactured by Garmin Ltd – one of the leading U.S-based manufacturers of high-quality fleet management and truck GPS products.

Its model number is 57-LifeMaps or simply 57LM.

This well-designed, high-sensitivity receiver model features a sleek compact design. It is shipped alongside a vehicle power cable, USB cable, suction cup mount, and a quick start manual.

The detailed maps in the firmware can also be assessed by an easy-to-use proprietary software called City Navigator® NT, which allows one to zoom the map of city roads, as well as visualize street maps.

The GPS receiver itself weighs 6.4ounces and is 5.5inches long, 3.4inches wide, and 0.8inches thick. Its color scheme is black.

This truck GPS receiver is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery whose battery life is approximately 2 hours once it is full charged.

It is also designed to support passive tracking system with the local storage being provided by a microSD card – though one needs to purchase this non-volatile memory card separately.

Its brightly-lit screen display allows one to easily perform onscreen programming by inputing required user data, as well as setting navigation parameters according to the trucking route that has been selected.

It also comes with unique navigation features such as Lane Assist feature which allows it to display junction signs, and the Speed Limit indicator that enables it to display the legal speed limit in different major roads in the various states.

The Lane Assist functionality also uses colored (directional) arrows to show the driver the right route through a road intersection, and this allows one to easily navigate through complex interchanges.

It also uses the Speed Limit feature to display the current speed as well as calculate the estimated arrival time.

The other navigation programs are described below.

This model comes with a trip planner software as well as a trip logging program that allows one to better manage the travel schedule.

There is also need to mention the utility of Lifetime Maps. Lifetime Maps is a multi-utility proprietary software that has been customized by Garmin Ltd for use in its Nuvi series of GPS receiver models.

This software bundles a GPS navigator algorithm, pre-loaded maps, and a voice-activated virtual driver assistant that provides spoken (audible) turn-by-turn directions so that the driver can concentrate of the route without having to glance at the display.

This also serves to issue driver awareness alerts that enables one to drive carefully in areas where obstacles can be expected.

Lifetime Maps also ensure that the driver accesses up-to-date maps, and this also highlights the importance of keeping the software up-to-date.

Also, it highlights points of interest(POI) in the navigation map, and these POI are considered during the issuing of driver awareness alerts.

Lifetime Maps is complemented by another program called Garmin Real Directions which manages virtual driver assistant functions, especially the issuing of audible turn-by-turn directions.

It serves to ensure that the spoken guidance is issued in an easy-to-understand format, and that it considers recognizable landmarks (including buildings) in the direction, for example, turn right after X shopping mall.

Lifetime Maps also benefits from its integration with an independent non-GPS software called FourSquare which operates as a location search-and-discovery service.

The database of Foursquare contains the addresses of important travel destinations, shopping spots, restaurants, and refill stores; and if any of these areas has been loaded in the POI database of Lifetime Maps, then Foursquare serves to reveal its exact address.

This allows the driver to accurately drive to the required POI. Moreover, this GPS receiver comes with a search field that allows one to input the desired location, and then the search functions takes advantage of this integration with Foursquare to output results that match the desired destination, along with their location addresses.

Another related feature is the Up Ahead functions that regularly informs the driver of nearby services such as fuel stations and ATM outlets. Moreover, one can customize this UpAhead feature so that it focuses on services that are of interest.

There is also another complementary functionality in Lifetime Maps that allows the driver to reach his/her desired destination, and this is the Direct Access feature.

This functionality allows one to navigate through complex crowded destinations such as airports and shopping malls, and can even enable the driver to find a safe parking space, or the nearest exit from a busy building.

This GPS receiver also comes with a  school zone warning feature that notifies one of nearby schools through both audible alerts and display of speed limits allowed in such zones.

The main demerit of this model is the non-integration of its Lifetime Maps software with a real-time road traffic information system.

Even so, Garmin has provided a workaround by  producing this model in 3 iterations; the base Nuvi 57 model which lacks Lifetime Maps, the Nuvi 57LM with Lifetime Maps model, and the higher priced Nuvi 57LMT model that comes with Lifetime Maps and the traffic support feature.

Moreover, one can upgrade this Nuvi57LM model to support real-time traffic updates at an affordable service cost.

Pros of the Garmin Nuvi 57LM Truck GPS
  • Portable model that uses a suction mount.
  • Comes with a brightly-lit dual-orientation 5-inch display screen.
  • Durable.
  • Easy to install.
  • Long battery life.
  • Easy to operate/use.
  • Uses Lifetime Maps for GPS navigation and issuing of driver awareness alerts.
  • Customizable UpAhead feature for notifying the driver of nearby services.
  • Supports passive tracking system.
The Cons
  • Lacks integration with real-time traffic updates.
  • Requires one to purchase a memory card for data storage if it is used as a passive tracking system.

Bottom-line

The Garmin Nuvi 57LM is a high-quality, camera-compatible, and hands-free advanced GPS receiver with a dual-orientation 5-inch screen display.

The model supports suction cup mount; and comes pre-loaded with 3 unique programs; FourSquare, Direct Access, and Garmin Real Direction.

It is also pre-loaded with Lifetime Maps which provides detailed maps  and can be updated at no cost. Moreover, it supports passive tracking. Additionally, it is unaffected by the state of cellular network connectivity of a region.

Add all of this to the superb build quality, design features, durability, and ease of onscreen programming and you have an excellent GPS navigator on your hands. More than deserving of our number one choice trucker GPS system for 2018.


2. TomTom Trucker 620 Truck GPS

This programmable hands-free GPS receiver comes with a 6-inch touchscreen and WiFi connectivity for updates without the need for a computer.

As a portable model it uses an active magnetic mount for attachment inside the cabin of the truck.

Also, it can be connected to smartphones through the WiFi connection, and this allows the truck GPS to read aloud text messages received in the phone.

Likewise, this allows one to integrate smartphone services with GPS navigation, and one can take advantage of this to connect the GPS receiver to a mobile app providing real-time traffic information.

Even so, this receiver is pre-loaded with Lifetime Maps that has real-time traffic support. Nonetheless, its ability to be connected to smartphones can also allow the driver to make hands-free call using the voice-controlled phone call feature.

Moreover, this allows it (GPS receiver) to be connected to virtual assistants such as Siri and Google Now. This model is designed and made by U.S-based TomTom International BV. Its model number is Trucker 620.

This well-designed, high-sensitivity receiver model features a sleek compact design; and is shipped along with its charger, magnetic dock (for mounting), a USB cable, an adhesive disc (for temporary mounting), and an accompanying user manual.

The receiver weighs about 1.38pounds, and is 5.6inches long, 3.6inches wide, and 0.6inches thick. Its color scheme is black.

As mentioned earlier, its firmware comes bundled with Lifetime Maps, and this software is complemented with the proprietary route planning program called TomTom MyDrive.

Its display screen has a diagonal measurement of 6inches. It uses a capacitive touchscreen that supports wide-definition VGA (WVGA) display whose resolution is 800pixels by 480pixels with the pixel density approximating 154 pixels-per-inch (PPI).

This receiver comes pre-fitted with a lithium-ion battery whose average battery life is an hour after it has been fully charged.

This relatively short battery life necessitates regular charging, and it is advisable that one carries more than 2 batteries when embarking on a long trip.

Its Lifetime Maps provides detailed maps of American and Canadian states. Moreover, it can be updated via WiFi.

This is possible because of the ease of performing onscreen programming, which also allows one to input data, as well as set navigation parameters according to the trucking route of choice. This is further supported by customized truck routing.

Another unique feature of this model is its support for hazmat haulage which allows drivers transporting hazardous materials to select safe routes, as well as avoid residential zones and commercial areas where these materials are prohibited.

Pros of the TomTom Trucker 620 Truck GPS
  • Portable model that uses an active magnetic mount.
  • Supports real-time traffic updates.
  • Comes with capacitive 6-inch touchscreen display.
  • WiFi-enabled device that can be connected to smartphones.
  • Durable.
  • Easy to install.
  • Easy to operate/use.
  • Uses Lifetime Maps for GPS navigation.
  • Supports passive tracking system.
The Cons
  • Short battery life.
  • Requires one to purchase a memory card for data storage if it is to be used effectively as a passive tracking system.
  • More expensive than Garmin Nuvi 57LM.

Bottom-line

The TomTom Trucker 620 is a compact, well-designed and programmable hands-free GPS receiver that comes with a 6-inch touchscreen and WiFi capability that allows for seamless software update, as well as supports smart-phone connection.

This portable model uses an active magnetic mount for attachment. It also allows one to integrate smartphone services with GPS navigation, and this enables a mobile app to provide real-time traffic information.

Moreover, this receiver is pre-loaded with Lifetime Maps that has real-time traffic support. Additionally, it is compatible with the virtual assistants Siri and Google Now.

While it doesn’t quite get our top pick this is a highly recommended gps device all the same.


3. Rand McNally TND530 Truck GPS

This is a hands-free, portable fourth-generation 5-inch GPS receiver which comes with 2 user interface options dubbed Carbon and Ice.

This serves to optimize user experience, as well as make the process of onscreen programming enjoyable. Its firm ware is powered by a powerful dual-core processor and 512MB of primary memory along with a graphics processing component.

It uses a proprietary navigation support system called IntelliRoute TND which supports bluetooth connectivity.

IntelliRoute TND features advanced lane guidance, toll costs, address book, quick planner, fuel log, route comparison, avoid list, team driving support, and warnings.

This model is compatible with back-up cameras. It also comes with Lifetime Maps with real-time traffic support.

This equipment is designed and manufactured by Rand McNally, which assigned it the model number TND530.

This light-weight, high-sensitivity receiver model features a sleek design, and it weighs about 11.7ounces. The receiver is 5.2inches long, 3.5inches wide, and 0.8inches thick; and it is shipped alongside a windshield suction cup for mounting, its charger, a USB cable, and a user manual.

As mentioned earlier, its firmware comes bundled with Lifetime Maps, and its operation is integrated into the IntelliRoute navigation system. Moreover, the receiver comes pre-fitted with a rechargeable 1200mAh.

Its display screen has a diagonal measurement of 6inches, and the resistive touch panel protects the TN-LCD screen whose display resolution is 800pixels by 480pixels.

A unique feature of this model is its ability to provide estimates of the toll costs, as well as calculate mileage of various routes so that one can choose which route is most profitable.

Moreover, its advanced lane guidance allows the driver to easily navigate through complex interchanges, while the route comparison features allows one to change the route from the original route set through quick planner.

Additionally, its avoid list allows one to set which routes, places, and roads to be avoided; while the warnings feature notifies the driver of upcoming changes in speed limit and presence of sharp bends.

The fuel log feature allows one to keep tabs on fuel consumption, while the team driving support allows for co-ordination when traveling as part of a convoy.

The IntelliRoute system also comes with trucking features, with the main ones being driving timers, mileage recording software called Dock, and multi-stop routing.

Another feature is dubbed bread-crumbs trailing which allows one to record and review the path traveled. There is also a virtual dashboard for monitoring trip progress and track mileage.

The Lifetime Maps comes with maps of states in Canada and the U.S. It also comes with an internal storage capacity of 16GB which allows it to be used as a passive tracking system.

Pros of the Rand McNally TND530 Truck GPS
  • Portable model that uses a suction cup for mounting.
  • Supports real-time traffic updates.
  • Comes with 5-inch display.
  • Supports Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Durable.
  • Easy to install.
  • Easy to operate/use.
  • Uses Lifetime Maps for GPS navigation.
  • Supports passive tracking system.
  • Supports electronic logging.
  • Allows the driver to estimate the toll costs.
The Cons
  • Short battery life.

Bottom-line

The Rand McNally TND530 is a compact, hands-free, and portable fourth-generation 5-inch GPS receiver.

It uses a proprietary navigation support system, IntelliRoute TND supports Bluetooth connectivity. It also supports electronic logging and estimation of toll costs.

User reviews do let this one down however, and despite the best efforts of the manufacturer to cram as many trucker friendly functions into the device they have come up short on overall ease of use.

Get past this and you have a pretty good system, but with better choices on the market the Rand McNally becomes difficult to endorse fully.


4. Garmin dēzl 770LMTHD Truck GPS

This is a specialty high-end, hands-free, and portable 7-inch truck GPS that features the premium-grade Lifetime HD Digital Traffic for providing real-time traffic updates.

It also comes with the standard Lifetime Maps, as well as supports electronic logging.

Even so, its Lifetime Maps provides detailed maps of states in Mexico, Canada and the U.S. As is evident, this is a specially designed model for use in trucks as it features comes with a program that provide a directory of truck and trailer services, while its navigation system provides road warnings about overpass heights, sharp curves, and bridge weight limits.

Its electronic logging platform supports hours-of-service(HOS) tracking as well as fuel usage tracking via IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement Documentation) logging.

Another unique feature is its support for Bluetooth connectivity which also allows for one to use the Bluetooth calling feature to communicate via a compatible phone.

This light-weight equipment is designed and manufactured by Garmin Ltd, and its model number is 770LMTHD, while the Part Code is dēzl 770LMTHD.

This is a high-quality, camera-compatible advanced GPS receiver comes pre-loaded with 3 unique programs; FourSquare, Direct Access, and Garmin Real Direction.

This means that it can be connected to a bluetooth-enabled backup camera. Moreover, its non-reliance on cellular signals ensures that its operations are unaffected by fluctuations in cellular network connectivity, and this can allow one to drive confidently through remote regions.

This compact, high-sensitivity receiver model features a sleek compact design; and it is 7.8inches long, 4.77inches wide, and an inch thick. It weighs about 15.4ounces.

It is shipped alongside a vehicle power cable, USB cable, suction cup mount, and a quick start manual. The detailed maps in the firmware can also be assessed by an easy-to-use proprietary software City Navigator® NT. Its color scheme is black.

This model is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can last for an hour once it is full charged. It is also designed to support passive tracking system with the local storage being provided by a microSD card which must be purchased separately.

It uses a multi-touch, capacitive TFT screen. The display type is WVGA color that is complement by a white backlight. This display has a maximum resolution of 800pixels by 480pixels.

This brightly-lit screen display allows one to easily perform onscreen programming by inputing required user data, as well as setting navigation parameters.

This model also comes with navigation features that are available in the Garmin Nuvi 57LM model. This includes the Lane Assist feature for displaying junction signs and supporting navigation through complex interchanges, the Speed Limit indicator, the trip planner software that optimizes schedule management; and the complementary software that support the functionality of Lifetime Maps.

These software are Garmin Real Directions which manages virtual driver assistant functions, UpAhead that regularly informs the driver of nearby services, and Direct Access that allows the driver to navigate through complex crowded destinations

Llifetime Maps is also integrated with Foursquare which allows for better management of POIs.

Pros of the Garmin dēzl 770LMTHD Truck GPS
  • Trucking GPS receiver with trucking features.
  • Portable model that uses a suction mount.
  • Comes with a brightly-lit 7-inch display screen.
  • Durable.
  • Easy to install.
  • Easy to operate/use.
  • Uses Lifetime Maps for GPS navigation and issuing of driver awareness alerts.
  • Customizable UpAhead feature for notifying the driver of nearby services.
  • Supports passive tracking system.
  • Supports Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Provides real-time traffic updates.
The Cons
  • Requires one to purchase a memory card for data storage if it is used as a passive tracking system.
  • More expensive than  Garmin Nuvi 57LM.

Bottom-line

The Garmin dēzl 770LMTHD is a high-end, hands-free, and portable 7-inch truck GPS receiver that features the premium-grade Lifetime HD Digital Traffic.

It also comes with the standard Lifetime Maps, as well as supports electronic logging.

Additionally, it comes with a program that provide a directory of truck and trailer services, while its navigation system provides road warnings about overpass heights, sharp curves, and bridge weight limits.

Its electronic logging platform supports HOS tracking as well as fuel usage tracking via IFTA logging. This model is bluetooth-compatible and it supports bluetooth calling. Highly recommended if you have the budget.


5. Fire HD Tablet

The Fire HD probably needs no introduction. This highly popular tablet from Amazon has sold millions of units.

And while most customers have bought the HD Fire for normal tablet use, it only needs a little customization to function as a GPS receiver.

It is the ingenuity of adapting this general-purpose tablet into a truck GPS that reveals that a GPS receiver is nothing more than a special-purpose computer whose firmware supports dedicated navigation software.

Therefore, if a GPS-based navigation software can be run on this tablet, then it can be used as a GPS receiver as it can decode and decrypt geolocation signals that it can receive from GPS satellites.

It features a 10.1 inch full-screen, high-definition (HD) display with a maximum resolution of 1920pixels by 1200pixels, and this allows for video and graphic resolutions of up-to 1080pixels.

Expectedly, to achieve such a high resolution, this computer needs to be powered by a powerful processor and a graphic processing unit (GPU), as well as possess considerable primary storage capacity.

In fact, this model has a quad-core processor with a clock speed of 1.8 GigaHertz (GHZ), while its primary memory is 2GB.

Another advantage of this tablet is that it is powered by a long-lasting rechargeable lithium-ion battery. In fact, this battery can last for about 10hours; and this procures immense advantage to drivers who have adapted this tablet into a portable GPS receiver.

Even so, one needs to find a way of mounting it in the cabin as it comes without any dedicated mounting options apart from its table stand – which cannot serve as a mount.

This tablet model was designed as a hands-free device which makes it fit to be used as a portable, hands-free GPS receiver. Even so, how does one operate it in a hands-free mode?

To solve the challenge posed by using a tablet without inputing data by using the hands, Amazon opted to develop this device to respond to voice commands with these commands being processed by a virtual assistant called Alexa.

This also allows drivers to use Alexa to program their installed GPS navigation software. Another virtual assistant that comes pre-installed in the tablet is Echo, and it can also be used as an alternative of Alexa, or as a complementary virtual assistant.

Additionally, it can be tailored to operate as either a passive tracking system or a real-time tracking system based on the preferences of the truck driver and owners of the truck fleet.

As a passive tracking system, the GPS software can store GPS data in its 32GB internal storage; while as a real-time tracking system, the tablet can use its inbuilt  satellite-enabled model to send GPS data to remote servers.

It also features Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities which allows one to transfer GPS data between the tablet and a local server.

This tablet also operates as a smartphone and one can use it to make hands-free calls while driving. Furthermore, its premium-grade speakers support Dolby sounds which ensures that high-quality audio is produced. As a GPS receiver, this ensures that voice guidance is clear.

On the downside, if the tablet is compromised by a malware, then the GPS software can malfunction, and this exposes the truck driver to unsafe driving conditions.

Pros of the Fire HD Tablet
  • Can be modified into a trucking GPS receiver that supports trucking features.
  • Portable model.
  • Comes with a high-definition 10.1 inch screen.
  • Easy to install.
  • Easy to operate/use.
  • Affordable.
  • Supports both passive and real-time tracking systems.
  • Supports Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Can provide real-time traffic updates.
The Cons
  • Not designed to survive the ruggedness of cabins.
  • Can be compromised by a malware.

Bottom-line

The Fire HD Tablet is a premium-grade, yet affordable tablet that can be customized to function as a GPS receiver.

This is possible because a GPS-based navigation software can be run on it. It features a 10.1 inch full-screen HD display with a maximum resolution of 1920pixels by 1200pixels, and this allows for video and graphic resolutions of up-to 1080pixels.

It has a quad-core processor with a clock speed of 1.8 GigaHertz (GHZ), while its primary memory is 2GB. Overall a viable option because of the versatility of having a tablet in your cabin in the first place.


Truck GPS Buyer’s Guide

truck usa

Transport and logistics form the critical core of the supply chain that defines the modern business environment. More so, it determines how efficient the supply chain is with regards to delivery of goods to the end consumer.

This applies to all levels of the marketing channels from the manufacturers who need to deliver goods to their distributors who then transfer them to wholesalers, who can then transport them to retailers who in turn sell the goods to the end consumers.

Therefore, transport is a critical component of the distribution channel that allows goods to be moved from the production point to the consumption point.

Even so, there is need to keep the transport costs as low as possible without compromising the logistic framework that manages the flow of goods from producers to consumers.

For manufacturers or wholesalers who need to transport a few tonnes of products, haulage charges for train transport can be prohibitive, and the best alternative is road transport.

canada trucks

Design-wise, trucks are basically modified lorries whose design configuration, size, and power allows for mounting of specialized storage cabins, along with special equipment such as refrigerators for haulage of pharmaceutical products.

Also, to optimize their commercial viability, their build design and sizes allows them to transport bulk volumes at affordable (haulage) costs.

Even so, they are designed to move at lower speeds than ordinary vehicles, and this creates a premium in terms of duration of transporting products.

To circumvent this premium loss (or relative disadvantage), there is need for the trucks to be driven at the legally-mandated speeds while avoiding traffic jams – which alongside losing the route are the major cause of delays.

The need to minimize transport delays led to the incorporation of navigation systems into trucks.

The most viable system that can be installed in the truck is the Global Positioning System(GPS) – a universal form of satellite-based radio-navigation system that uses navigation satellites (called GPS satellites) to provide real-time geolocation information.

How GPS Works

There are 24 satellites that form the GPS satellite constellation. The use of multiple GPS satellites simultaneously allows for redundancy which ensures that there is accuracy in geolocation.

Redundancy means that multiple satellites send signals to the receiver, with each satellite providing its own co-ordinates about where the receiver is located, and this location data is time-stamped – which in-turn allows for geolocation of a mobile (moving) target.

The GPS receiver can then use these co-ordinates to accurately locate a vehicle in a map. Also, because satellite signals travel at the speed of light, there is minimal (or zero) time lag, and the coordinates provided by these signals can be considered real-time location data.

In the GPS receiver, there is a specialized inbuilt computer whose firmware (a highly-specialized operating system[OS]) relies on complex mathematical algorithms to calculate location data based on the satellite signals received.

It is therefore evident that for the GPS geolocation to work in a vehicle, one needs to have a GPS receiver which can receive information from the GPS satellite, and then passes this information into its hard-coded OS which process this information using its navigation algorithm so that the geographical position is calculated immediately. Even so, this process is not error-free.

Why do GPS Errors Occur

It is therefore clear that it is not the GPS receiver in the truck that is sending signals to the satellites, but rather, it is the satellites sending signals to the receiver.

Understanding this concept is important as it explains GPS errors that drivers encounter when using GPS navigation to guide their driving.

These errors are mainly caused by 2 factors; time mechanism and signal obstruction.

GPS satellites are equipped with highly accurate atomic clocks, while GPS receivers are equipped with less accurate clocks (depending on their make, model, and choice of clock).

Therefore, the time-stamp of the location calculated by the GPS receiver is several seconds late as compared to the time-stamp of the satellite signal, and this time-lag can cause a driver to believe that (s)he is currently in a specific location, while in reality, the vehicle has gone past that location.

It is for this reason that one is advised to purchase and install high quality GPS receivers as their minimal time-lag improves the accuracy of the calculated real-time geolocation data.

This also reveals that the satellite signals provide real-time location data in an encoded and encrypted format, and it the process of decoding these signals by the GPS receiver that introduces error vis-a-vis the duration the receiver takes to decode and calculate the geolocation co-ordinates via the process of triangulation.

Signal obstruction is receiver-independent, as well as satellite-independent, as these two equipments do not generate this error.

Instead, it occurs when the signal path from the satellite to the receiver is impeded in the ionosphere and troposphere by electromagnetic waves, cosmic radiation, and weather patterns.

Likewise, physical obstruction in the line of signal transmission can impair GPS navigation as these signals travel in a straight line.

Trucking GPS

trucks gps

There are specialized GPS receivers designed for installation in trucks, and they are called truck GPS. As expected, the truck GPS is a specialized version of automotive navigation system that allows for easy routing of trucks on the road.

This also means that it needs to have the capability of delivering real-time traffic information that enables one to adjust the route on-the-fly.

Consequently, the driver can change the route from the original pre-set route.

Based on the information provided above, it can be deduced that truck GPS receivers offer 2 primarily advantages to truck drivers.

To begin with, it allows them to choose the best route to use when driving through a heavy traffic in a large city.

Secondly, it allows them to deliver their products to new regions which they have not driven through before.

This implies that truck GPS allows for establishment of new supply routes to foreign markets.

Nonetheless, this is considered the most important function of a GPS receiver as getting lost while driving a truck can be the most inconveniencing experience for a truck driver, notwithstanding the delay it causes.

What to Look for in a Truck GPS

tracking systems

As mentioned earlier, one only needs a functional GPS receiver to be able to utilize the GPS navigation system as the satellites are always sending signals to the earth (free of charge).

Therefore, one just needs to have an equipment that can decode and process these signals so as to reveal the location of this equipment (the GPS receiver).

Even so, there are different makes, models, types, and qualities of GPS receivers in the market. So how does one go about choosing the best truck GPS (receivers) for his/her trucking needs?

The factors that one needs to consider can be categorized into operational and build-design aspects. For the purpose of simplicity, GPS receivers will be referred to as truck GPS for the remainder of this review.

Operational Considerations

To begin with, one must know that the truck GPS operates as a real-time map reader which allows the driver to concentrate on driving without the need of frequently referencing his location on a paper map.

To achieve this, a truck GPS come equipped with an audio feature that reads out the location, or notifies the driver when a specific location has been reached.

Moreover, it provides up-to-date maps, with quality receiver models also providing details such as weight limits on bridges, closed roads, and appropriate alternate routes.

Nonetheless, one can use both a truck GPS along with a hard-copy of a map when driving through new areas.

It is the ability of truck GPS to provide information about weight limits and trucking routes that differentiates it from standard car-based GPS receivers which lacks these features.

This ensures that the truck does not drive onto a bridge that cannot accommodate its weight, or drive into a residential area that has narrow roads – and in extreme cases, the driver can suffer a penalty or fine for driving the truck into prohibited residential zones.

Therefore, the first thing that one needs to consider when purchasing a truck GPS is how best it supports trucking maps.

This also allows one to differentiate specialty-type truck GPS from car-based GPS receivers that have been refurbished for trucking.

Secondly, the truck GPS receiver must have the capacity to provide real-time traffic updates. This requires it to be connected to a real-time traffic system using either open-source software or proprietary programs.

The advantage of receiving real-time traffic updates is that it allows the driver to confidently estimate the arrival time. For this reason, one is advised to choose a model that supports real-time traffic updates.

The third consideration is whether the truck GPS receiver provides information about tolls that would allow for computation of toll estimates on specific trucking routes.

Another consideration is whether the receiver can provide information about the presence and location of bridges and overpasses, and their weight limit, road width, and how high up the overpass is above the road.

This is important as some low overpasses do not provide enough height allowance for trucks to pass under them, and this can cause the truck to be stuck in such a trouble spot.

GPS Tracking Systems

One can also consider to choose a truck GPS that supports a tracking system. This can be a passive tracking system or a real-time tracking system.

In passive tracking system, the GPS receiver stores GPS-based location data, which is then downloaded into a local server when the truck reaches its destination.

Usually, WiFi connectivity is required to allow for data to be transmitted from the receiver to the server.

On the other hand, real-time tracking requires the receiver to be equipped with a satellite-enabled modem that allows for GPS data to be transmitted at periodic intervals (for instance, 15 or 30 seconds) to a remote server.

Unlike the passive tracking system which can be affected by data loss in case the local data storage malfunctions in the receiver; real-time tracking system is better protected from data loss as local storage malfunction does not affect the data stored in the remote server.

Moreover, real-time tracking system allows trucks traveling in a convoy to coordinate their routes and driving directions/patterns. Likewise, it supports fleet management as the fleet manager can know where the various trucks are at any specific time.

Ease of programming

Another consideration is the ease of programming the truck GPS.

These receivers come in various sizes, and all feature a relatively large monitor screen – with most being 5-7 inches in size – and it is this monitor that serves as the interface between the user and the GPS software that manages the device.

This software needs to be programmed by feeding it with (user) input data, such as route, truck size, weight, and even speed limit; and the software then uses this data to manage the GPS navigation functions.

As expected, one needs to choose a model that (s)he can comfortably program.

This also means that one needs to choose between the 2 predominant types; one that comes with a touchscreen (a touchscreen model), or one that uses a key-buttons (a keypad model).

Build Design Considerations

highway trucks and gps

The key consideration here is durability as trucking GPS receivers are used more often that car-based GPS receivers, and hence they must be built from durable materials.

Moreover, their build designs must allow for ruggedness (so as to withstand the rugged settings in a truck), as well as resistance to corrosion, wear, tear, and  mechanical vibrations (which can cause poorly mounted receivers to fall off).

Another consideration is how fast it takes to charge the receiver, and how long it can operate before running out of power.

As mentioned earlier, the truck GPS basically operates as a navigational-support computer system, and computers need electrical power to run.

Even though the vehicle battery can provide continuous power to the device, its power rating requires it ( the receiver) to be powered by its own separate internal battery.

This also ensures that it can receive and send GPS data to a remote server even when the battery has been disconnected from the vehicle.

The third consideration is a choice between a portable and a non-portable truck GPS. Portable receivers can be carried around, and can be easily mounted or dismounted onto any surface on the vehicle body usually using a suction mechanism.

This also means that one needs to consider the available mounting options. Even so, its mounting mechanism is still inferior to the non-portable models, and this makes it vulnerable to falling down in the truck cabin when the truck suddenly hits a bump or drives on a rough terrain.

Moreover, it some models require the driver to hold them when performing programming functions. On the other hand, non-portable models are securely fitted in the cabin, and their hands-free operation makes it convenient for use in busy roads as the driver can concentrate on driving well. Likewise, most states (legally) mandate the driver to have both hands on the steering when driving.


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Best Truck GPS - Garmin, Tom-Tom, Rand McNally & More
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