Sign up for The Wire Newsletter!

It's a Team's Life

Is a GPS only a GPS?

By Linda Caffee
Posted May 10th 2017 8:21AM

Now a GPS is much more than a unit to mark a point on the earth it is used to guide our day and help to keep us on a time schedule.  The GPS we choose to use now is a Rand McNally and this replaced our original Lowrance unit. 

 In the beginning

When we first started trucking in 2000 we used directions sent over the Qualcomm, we used a hard copy map, and Streets and Trip’s that I had on my computer.  Often, I would be using all three systems to find an address while Bob drove.  Way too many times I took us on business routes, past the entrance to the customer, and on roads we should never have been on in a tractor trailer.  When looking for the next rest area or working on a Hazmat route the hard copy Rand McNally map was always at my side.  I wore out several of these books before we got our first GPS and it was almost love at first sight.

First GPS

First relief was the stress of which lane to be in when changing interstates in a new city, the GPS told me way in advance what lane I needed to be in.  Before this when I would start driving I would write out my route in large print so it would be easy to see at night.   As a new driver, I was unsure of myself and one of my biggest fears was to get lost or make a wrong turn.  I would read and reread my notes before entering a city when I knew I had to change interstates.  The worst of the worst was detours that were not marked and I still have nightmares of some of those wild goose chases I went on before getting back to my route. I always felt like an accident waiting to happen as I concentrated so hard on finding my way that not much else mattered including low bridge signs.  Luckily, I never found a low bridge and after much stressing I found my way.  Now with this wonderful device sitting on the dash I could see the roads around me and if I had to take a detour I knew the roads to take to get back to my original route.  I instantly became a much more relaxed driver in cities and on detours.  The world is much safer…

Upgrade to Rand McNally

Now that a GPS has a permanent place on our dash and we knew that we wanted a truck specific GPS with Hazmat we choose the Rand McNally and then another Rand McNally.  Why do we have two?  One is a test unit and the other is ours and we could not do without either.  One GPS is always routed to our destination and shows our time of arrival.  The other we use to show where we are going to fuel along our route or a rest area where we plan to stop.  This comes in very handy when we are planning on changing out drivers as the Rand McNally will show what time we will arrive at the designated area for the driver change and we are sure we have enough time to get there.  We also use the second GPS to help us find points of interests; Walmart, truck washes, if needed a Freightliner dealership, and this goes on.  Not only with the GPS show these points of interest it includes a phone number to call the business if we need information. 

Routing & Addresses

We haul a lot of Hazmat and the hazmat routing is excellent with a caveat, we are always the captain of our ship and as such we are responsible for the reading the signs and if the sign says NO HAZMAT and the GPS says take that road do what the sign says not the GPS.  The GPS is a tool not the law.  The ability to save an exact location, name it, and then put into a category is critical to our business.  We deliver to a lot of places where the address given might be several miles away at an office or inside a fenced compound.  We need to know where the commercial gate is located.  One we find the commercial gate we save it under the correct name and then next time we get a load to this location there is no guessing we are guided right to where we need to be.

The TND 730 will also show weather conditions for where we are or along our route so we can detour if needed.  The GPS is also used to track our fuel as this marries up well with how many miles we run in each state.

Saving Money

There are many more uses for the Rand McNally that I have not touched on or have not learned about.  The GPS saves us money by efficiently routing us to a saved location as we do not have to drive aimlessly around looking for a commercial gate.  The GPS saves us money by showing us options allowing us to choose the best route and to know what is in the vicinity. 

The Rand McNally Truck GPS has helped our businesses bottom line with our fuel savings and less miles on our truck.  There are many GPS’s out there but this GPS works well for us and has for many years.  Recently I wrote another blog talking about our GPS called GPS is a Vital Tool


Bob & Linda Caffee


Saint Louis MO

Expediters since January 2005


Expediting isn't just trucking, it's a lifestyle;

Expediting isn't just a lifestyle, it's an adventure;

Expediting isn't just an adventure, it's a job;

Expediting isn't just a job, it's a business.


Please sign in or sign up to post a comment.  Or sign in with Facebook.