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Fuel for Thought

The GPS Knows All ?

By Greg Huggins
Posted Jul 10th 2019 12:59PM

Today, most drivers rely on their GPS units to get them where they want to go. GPS units designed for truckers are especially helpful for maneuvering around metropolitan areas when they are working correctly. It wasn’t too many years ago that drivers relied on their wits, skills and the ability to read a road atlas to find their way to destinations unknown. Where most drivers today find themselves the victim of faulty GPS directions and end up in precarious situations, in the past we used our atlases combined with this wonderful invention from many years ago… the windshield! Blindly following the GPS screen without verifying the directions can be a recipe for disaster.

Do you know how to read a Motor Carrier’s Road Atlas?

Here are some tips to help you get started.

Our U.S. interstates and U.S. highways (yes, there is a difference in these two) actually have a purpose behind the way they are set up.

U.S. interstates and U.S. highways are…

Even numbered for East - West routes

Odd numbered for North - South routes

U.S. interstates and U.S. highways are also systematically numbered by mile markers. North - South routes have mile markers that begin in the south and East - West routes have mile markers that begin in the west.

Most U.S. interstates are two numbers (I-40, I-75, I-95, I-10, etc) but there are three digit Interstates as well.

For three digit interstates, if it begins with an odd number (I-195, I-395, I-575, etc) these are spur routes INTO a city, while three digit interstates that begin with even numbers (I-285, I-635, I-610, etc) are routes AROUND a city. 

In your road atlas, green routes are generally toll roads, while blue, gray and black are non-toll roads.

Having a GPS in the truck is a great tool but always verify the route. Having a road atlas, and the ability to read it, is an invaluable tool. 

If you remember the interstate and highway system and how the numbers work, the next time your GPS freezes up on you, you will not have to panic, just grab your atlas and complete your journey.

A trucker GPS is a great tool, but it certainly does not know all. 

Safe travels.

See you down the road,