Choosing a Sat Nav for driving an HGV in Europe.
It is a well-known issue for truck drivers that your Sat Nav can get you into trouble because standard maps don’t account for larger vehicles in terms of height and width (the famous ‘bridge stike’), or weight in terms of road restrictions. Additionally, there are an increasing number of pollution and environmental restrictions that come into play across Europe.
So, even if you have picked a suitable Sat Nav for driving a truck in the UK, if you are looking for your first European HGV job, you should check out how suitable it will be for driving in Europe.
Many of the HGV-specific Sat Navs have a range of features designed with the truck driver in mind. The most important for a European truck driver is of course, which maps are available for and come with the Sat Nav. But there are other features to make your life easier.
Useful Trucking SatNav Features
- European interactive truck-specific maps.
- Bridge height routes.
- Bridge weight restrictions.
- Restricted road routes.
- Restricted times.
- Truck width, height length and weight settings.
- Hazardous materials settings to assist best / safest routing.
- Multiple waypoints for multi-drop deliveries.
- Build in a dash cam.
- Enhanced loudspeaker.
- HGV hazard avoidance.
- Works out of the box (ie so you don’t have to set it up in the UK first before departure.
- Extremely accurate traffic – can even give the truck driver an alert of tail jams ahead reducing the need for unexpected heavy braking!
- Accurate road closure information and re-routing.
- Heavy duty durable unit.
- Larger screen size.
- Speed limits are applicable to your HGV!
- Fuel-saving technology.
- Fleet communication options.
- Phone connectivity / SIM compatibility.
- Clear junction depiction – crucial when taking a new route.
- 3d maps.
- Low light settings.
- Direct sunlight settings.
- Points of Interest:
- Industrial estates
- Shopping and retail centres
- Ad-blue sites
- Transport cafes
- HGV Laybys
- Truck Parking
- Truck stops
What Satnav is Best for HGV Driving?
There are many sat navs out there today offering some or all of these features, so it can be difficult to choose. We have reviewed a few of the more recognised models in this article. As a general rule, sat nav units capable of European HGV work are more expensive than devices that a typical car driver would buy, and you should budget upward of £300 for a decent one.
Rather than make a particular recommendation, we strive to show you a couple of different options, and what features are included. Bear in mind that units are forever being upgraded, and sometimes an ‘upgraded’ sat nav will actually have some features missing from the previous version. Always check out reviews on sites like Amazon before deciding what to buy.
Now let’s take a look at some of the well-known brands.
A major player in the Sat Nav market, TomTom offer a wide selection of different models, including some Fleet specific ones. If you buy one of their ‘Pro’ range, bear in mind that you need to subscribe to their Web Fleet service in order to be able to connect to your phone. We will be looking at one of their more popular ‘Trucker’ range – the Go Professional 6200.
The Go Professional 6200 has been designed with larger vehicles in mind from the ground up. It has a nice large 6-inch screen, and comes with TomTom traffic via a built-in SIM. It also gives you 1 year of TomTom traffic and speed camera alerts, with no extra data charges.
Mapping and Routing
You can see from the picture above that you can enter your vehicle details, and the unit has over 50,000 built-in points of interest for the truck driver in Europe. There is specific routing for HGVs which it is claimed helps you save fuel and gives you a realistic arrival time. The maps for trucks are free to update for the life of the unit.
You can plan routes anywhere prior to your journey.
Updates can be carried out over Wi-Fi without the need for a computer, and you will be prompted when new updates are available – then it’s just a case of choosing a suitable Wi-Fi network, and the Sat Nav does the rest.
Mobile phone compatibility
Hands-free calling comes as standard via Bluetooth, and the TomTom Go Professional 6200 is compatible with Siri or Google Now.
Battery: Up to 1 hour
Connectivity: SIM and data included
A word of warning – there have been some reports of the previous version of this Sat Nav – the 6100, of the voice control being terrible, and even some reliability problems with the units resetting themselves, hopefully, something that the newest updates have resolved, but do your homework!
Okay, we are going to be very honest with you – the Garmin range of Sat Navs for truckers, known as their dēzl™range, is definitely our favourite. They tend to be a little more expensive than the TomTom, but we think you get more for your money. The entry-level model, the dēzl™ 580 LMT-D, is already feature-packed, but for a little more money there will be a 7-inch version out later this year (2108).
We are going to review the dēzlCam™ LMT-D, which sports a 6-inch screen, and a built-in HD dashcam, which starts recording as soon as you start driving. You can add an optional rear-view camera to capture what is behind you too. There are detailed maps of Europe which are updated free for life, as well as lifetime traffic updates. The traffic information works via DAB straight out of the box.
dēzlCam offers useful information about truck restrictions – you enter the dimensions of your vehicle along with any hazardous materials information, and it does the rest. It can warn you of bridge heights, shape curves, weight limits and more. You can create multiple stop trips, and save them for the future.
dēzlCam has a good range of diversion features, so you can avoid or include certain streets or towns. They call this ‘Route Shaping’. As you would expect there is a good array of truck-specific points of interest, and hand-free calling is easy via Bluetooth and the unit’s integrated speaker and microphone. There is also a voice-activated navigation option, but this has received mixed reviews in the same way that TomTom has.
Traffic and re-routing
Garmin’s traffic solution ‘Digital Traffic’ which uses DAB radio, offers advanced traffic features, including wide coverage, including minor roads, a 1-minute refresh time (traffic is checked every minute), and accuracy down to 10 meters. It is free for use for life with no additional costs.
Complex interchanges and junctions are highlighted with useful graphic displays, showing you which lane you need to be in, and directions often include well-known landmarks, further improving the driver’s experience.
The dēzlCam is compatible with smartphones, and can access additional information through the phone such as weather reports.
Lastly, the dēzlCam has literally millions of popular places from shops to services to places to eat, and has lifetime updates for European maps.