Why do I need a Trucker GPS?

June 15th, 2014 | Cobra Electronics | Chicago, IL

5 benefits of purchasing a Truck Driver GPS System

Sometimes, you need a little help navigating the road— unaware of what obstacles are hiding beyond the bend. The Cobra Pro Nav 8500 helps drivers avoid everything from mild inconveniences— like finding a better deal on diesel, after filling up— to major obstacles; like realizing when it’s too late that the route you’re on isn’t truck friendly.

1. Avoid bridge strikes and non-friendly truck routes

One of the main benefits of investing in a trucker-specific GPS is the unit input of truck dimensions. The navigation unit uses these measurements to determine the optimal truck-friendly route, which differs from a consumer GPS.

Sean McNally, spokesman at the American Trucking Associations, explained, “that off-the-shelf global positioning systems may be the cause [for the increase in bridge strikes]... that sometimes trucks wander where they are not supposed to.”

There are countless stories of cars and trucks driving into the unknown because their GPS told them to, leading them onto narrow residential roads that they can’t back out. In New York, up to 80 percent of all bridge strikes (link to bridge strike article) were cited as the result of a GPS issue.

The bottom line— finding a truck-friendly route can save a driver thousands of dollars in fees and repairs and increase both driver and public safety. Failing to comply with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration posted route restrictions has pricey consequences: “The maximum penalty is $11,000 for a company, $2,750 for a driver. Source: Appendix B to 49 CFR part 386, paragraphs (a)(3) and (a)(4).”

Those are just fines. (link to bridge strike diagram) Truck repairs, damage to the transported freight, bodily harm resulting from the incident—to the driver or other motorists— late delivery, traffic closures, etc., are problems that can be costly, dangerous, and can be avoided with the appropriate navigation features.

The increase in bridge strikes prompted the issuance of formal recommendations from FMCSA on how to select a GPS for CMVs. New regulations include the creation of visor cards (below) and adding mandatory courses to the Commercial Drivers License education requirements covering GPS training.

The Cobra Pro Nav 8500 is compliant with all FMCSA guidelines, and then some:

Cobra Pro Nav features:

The Cobra Pro Nav keeps drivers on the correct course with the following features

○      Tier 1 maps that include lifetime updates; ensuring the most accurate, up-to-date maps

○      Superior truck/last-mile routing with four times more trucking attributes coverage in secondary roads

○      Truck-Specific Map Data Coverage Includes complete STAA National Highway Network & State Access Roads, National Bridge Inventory List and National HazMat Route Registry data for providing truck-optimized route for lower 48 states and Canada

2. Comply with government regulations

There are no regulations mandating the use of an ELD— yet. As of now, the use of an Electronic Logging Devices is voluntary. But that may be quick to change.

On March 13, 2014 a press release by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a proposal to ‘require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use ELDs in their vehicles to improve compliance with the safety rules that govern the number of hours a driver can work.”

The two proposal objectives:

1.) Increase safety on the roads by reducing the amount of fatigued drivers on the road

2.) Eliminate the amount of paperwork by the government by streamlining accounting with electronic devices.

“The proposed rulemaking would significantly reduce the paperwork burden associated with hours-of-service recordkeeping for interstate truck and bus drivers - the largest in the federal government following tax-related filings - and improve the quality of logbook data.”

This proposal supplements Hours of Service regulations implemented in July 2013 to reduce the amount of fatigued drivers on the road.

The press release that announced the proposal outlined the following ways that ELDs can make it easier to keep track of hours and avoid costly and dangerous HoS violations:

The ELD proposal wants to make it more difficult for drivers to misrepresent their hours in paper log books. The FMSCA analysis shows it would help reduce approximately 20 fatalities, 434 injuries.

“Trucking companies and passenger carriers that allow drivers to exceed driving limits by more than three hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.” (Press release)

“Impaired driving, including fatigued, was listed as a factor in more than 12 percent of the 129,120 total crashes that involved large trucks or buses.”

For more stats on driver fatigue check out this infographic.


Additional Benefits to purchasing a ELD Compatible Device:

1.) If the regulation is passed, it will prevent the driver from having to upgrade their equipment later, saving expenses.

2.) An ELD makes it easier to maintain accurate HoS reports and have them readily available for roadside inspections.


Comply with ELD regulations with the Cobra Pro Nav unit:

○      The Cobra Pro Nav unit has Enhanced state mileage logs & hours of service timers that keep track of on duty, on duty driving/off duty time based on GPS location. Also assists with IFTA fuel tax reporting and hours of service logging

○      Cobra RapidLog™ ELD 350 is Electronic Logging Device (ELD) compliant.

3. Save money on diesel

Semi trucks consume 53.9 billion gallons of fuel to deliver goods every year. Getting the best deal on diesel can reduce significant spending. This Uship infographic states that long-haul trucks can carry up to 300 gallons of diesel fuel. To put it in perspective, a $.25/gallon saving per gallon is an extra $75 in the driver’s pocket. Knowing a gas station on route has cheaper diesel fuel may entice the driver to stop earlier on route and take advantage.

That is exactly what one can do with the Cobra Pro Nav Live Diesel Prices Feature. The multi-location mapping also helps drivers map the most cost-effective route that includes multiple stops. The unit includes the trip cost calculator making it is easy to compare how different diesel fuel prices will affect the total cost of the trip, and assists drivers in planning the best fuel stops.

4. Red and Speed light Camera Locations

AURA Database of Red Light and Speed Cameras, and Dangerous Intersections, provides drivers an extra warning when approaching a high-threat intersection. This feature keeps drivers’ eyes on the road, and money in their pocket by avoiding costly speed and red-light camera tickets.

5. Skip the Traffic Congestion. Save money and time.

A study conducted by the University of Chicago for the Center for Transportation Research found that it possible that trucks waste up to 2 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually with idling truck engines.

The Cobra Pro Nav Live and Predictive Traffic mapping allows drivers to avoid routes with traffic or plan rest stops accordingly. Live weather updates provide extra protection against dangerous route conditions by notifying drivers of up-to-date weather information, including severe weather alerts.

Check out a full list of Cobra Pro Nav 8500 benefits.