The purpose of any Sat Nav app is to get you where you need to be safely and efficiently. Apps are easily downloadable on both Android and iPhones and many are free. But which apps are the best for HGVs?
Whilst many vehicles have in-built navigation systems there are a great many HGVs on the road that don’t. Basic mapping apps aren’t always suitable for HGVs as they are so much larger than most vehicles on the roads. So where to begin?
Here we look at a selection of the many Sat Nav apps that are available, in no particular order, to give you an idea of what is available.
Sygic GPS Truck & Caravan
Sygic is reputed to be the most downloaded HGV sat nav app, trusted by over 3 million truck drivers, and is loaded with a wide range of features that will be appreciated by every HGV driver.
With highly detailed settings options enabling drivers to specify their vehicle size, type, emissions standards and even the nature of the load Sygic will create three optimal routes that best suit the settings that have been entered. Routes will avoid low bridges, tunnels, sharp bends and many other possible restrictions, and also takes in to account HAZMAT, load type and number of trailers etc.
Sygic also shares information about points of interest such as parking, filling stations and overnight rest areas that are suited to the specified vehicle, making it easy for HGV drivers to plan their route and stop off points. Drivers are assisted with spoken voice instructions and dynamic lane assistance. Sygic also alerts drivers to the location of speed cameras and will announce speed limits.
With free map updates available several times a year and 3D maps available both online and offline, Sygic will work without an internet signal.
The basic version of the app is free however a premium version is available, and a 14 day test-drive period is offered after installation. After the initial 14-day trial period users can upgrade to the premium license or continue using the basic app.
Available on: Android & iOS
Waze Navigation & Live Traffic
Waze is one of if not the most popular smartphone apps for navigation and live traffic maps. Popular with private and commercial drivers it calculates fast routes by using information that is reported live by users. Free to download, it is thought that there are over 100 million Waze users worldwide.
An attractive feature of Waze is that it can be cast to your vehicle’s infotainment system thereby utilising the larger screen and better-quality speaker system. Users are encouraged to add local traffic information, and with so many users, updates happen incredibly quickly. It also has a speed alert, planning tools and places a lot of emphasis on issues on your planned route, such as incidents, speed cameras and traffic jams.
Waze does rely on users adding information so it may not always be that reliable. As with other smartphone mapping apps, Waze does work best when you have a strong phone signal however it does store your planned route as an offline map so will still be able to stay on track even if live data can’t be updated.
Waze doesn’t have the ability to enter your vehicle’s dimensions so HGV drivers may encounter issues with bridge heights and road widths, however it is a really handy app with lots of useful features.
Available on: Android & iOS
Specifically designed for hauliers, PTV Navigator includes practically everything an HGV driver would find useful during their journey.
With real time routes that are planned according to the vehicle’s dimensions, drivers using PTV Navigator can ensure that their route will avoid low bridges or tight bends that would otherwise restrict their route.
This handy app also calculates optimum routes, has the latest travel information and continually updates the expected arrival time, keeping the driver fully informed and on track. There is also a useful parking assist feature.
Users report that PTV Navigator has a clear user interface and is a very popular choice of HGV sat nav apps.
Available on: Android and iOS
This is probably the most well known sat nav app, with a staggering 154.4 million monthly users worldwide (Source: iMapping).
The app benefits from real time updates and automatically adjusts a route if an incident occurs on the route you’ve chosen and the “Explore Nearby” function makes searching for food, accommodation and other points of interest very straightforward.
Users report that street view mapping is a useful feature and that the interface is user friendly.
Another benefit of the app is that it can be used offline, having the facility to download maps/routes.
Unfortunately Google Maps doesn’t let drivers specify the dimensions of their vehicle which means that height and weight restricted routes can’t be avoided.
Available on: Android and iOS
A very straightforward app, Apple Maps offers easy access to maps of the world for all drivers.
Voice guided turn-by-turn navigation and real time traffic conditions, incidents and road closures all help to ensure that drivers have accurate routes available at their fingertips.
Apple Maps also offers lane change assistance and includes a speed limit function to ensure you keep within speed limits – especially useful on unfamiliar roads.
As with Google Maps, Apple Maps doesn’t offer any option to tailor journeys to your vehicle’s size or load type. HGV drivers can therefore find themselves using routes that are unsuitable.
Available on: iOS
CoPilot GPS competes alongside Google Maps and Waze due to its offline access. Built for all drivers, this app is widely used by HGV drivers to safely navigate routes. Truck navigation and traffic information help to ensure that routes are optimised for the vehicle type and dimensions and the type of load that is being transported.
CoPilot GPS includes a driver-friendly traffic guidance in-cab and will enable you to deliver on time with accurate ETAs and real-time traffic reporting.
This app includes a 14-day free trial of offline voice-guided navigation, route planning and traffic information. Certain features, such as automatic re-routing and world-wide maps do require internet connection and additional map upgrades.
Available on: Android and iOS
In-Route Intelligent Routing
In-Route Intelligent Routing is relatively new to the HGV sat nav app market and uses Apple Maps, known for its accuracy to provide voice-guided navigation of up to 150 locations with automatic severe weather alerts.
Users can label pins to mark drop offs en-route and also add notes, and the app will automatically arrange the drop off points in to the most time-efficient route.
In-Route is therefore ideal for routes with multiple stop-offs, overnight and indirect trips. Another great feature of this app is that drivers are able to select stop-off locations based on weather conditions and road characteristics.
The basic app is free, and on sign-up a week-long free trial of the advanced app is available.
Available on: iOS
TomTom GO is a downloadable GPS sat nav app that supports offline maps, saving 4G data when you need to.
As with most other apps, TomTom GO receives frequent updates to maps, so that you can avoid blocked roads, and drive safely within speed limits.
With real time traffic, online and offline maps, speed camera updates, moving lane guidance and points of interest TomTom GO brings all the features of a TomTom device to your smartphone. In addition, this app is supported by CarPlay and Android Auto, and will be displayed via your cars infotainment system.
However, once again, this sat nav app can not be calibrated to select routes that are suitable for your vehicle.
Any dedicated HGV Sat Nav app should have the most accurate mapping and height, width and weight options to enable safe travel for the larger vehicle. This will support reliable and efficient route planning which in turn will help business costs to be kept to a minimum. In addition, the app should be easily downloadable – look for those with the highest ratings and good user reviews.
As already mentioned, a number of HGV Sat Nav apps are free to download, whilst others charge a fee. In addition there is a wide range of stand-alone route planning devices on the market that cost anything between £50 and £700.
It goes without saying that the features you’re looking for and ultimately your budget will determine the apps and devices that you might invest in.
Clearly, after considering your budget, the most important consideration for your HGV Sat Nav app is going to be route accuracy – is the chosen route definitely the best considering the dimensions of your vehicle? What about your load type? Any dedicated HGV sat nav app should allow you to be really specific about your vehicle, number of trailers, load type including HAZMAT substances, and enable you to have confidence in your route (and any unplanned diversions).
Your most efficient journey is one that can avoid congestion and quickly set a new route in response to real-time traffic conditions. This will include the identification of potential hazards such as road width and bridge height restrictions and any roadworks or traffic incidents. In addition, if you miss a turning, how quickly will the app adjust to re-route you?
When you’re driving on unfamiliar routes it can be very useful to be alerted to which lane you need to be in to stay on your planned route. Real-time lane change assistance alerts will keep you on the right track.
The detection of speed limits with audio alerts and the detection of speed cameras are both extremely useful features for the long-distance driver. Observing the rules of the road is paramount for the safety of all users.
Hands free calling is essential for any long-distance HGV driver. Any HGV Sat Nav app with Bluetooth connectivity will help to ensure that your drivers can be contacted easily whilst en route without compromising road safety.
For the ultimate reassurance, having access to emergency assistance when a vehicle breaks down or a driver is in need of medical help is invaluable.
When you’re driving through unfamiliar locations and are looking for a landmark having 3D terrain on your Sat Nav display can be really useful. You may need to find a hotel, lorry parking, filling stations and garages, restaurants etc to make your journey bearable.
Depending on the amount of time that a sat nav function is required by a driver, it might be worth considering whether to buy a dedicated sat nav device. Whilst app stores are full of simple to use and often free sat nav apps there are some drawbacks that can hinder use.
Smartphone battery life, data allowance, signal coverage, screen size and disruption from other mobile communications can all be prohibitive to their use.
The benefits of using a dedicated sat nav device, whilst generally more costly, include pre-installed mapping, larger screen sizes and may therefore offer a more reliable solution to navigation on repeated long journeys.
Of course, even the most sophisticated sat nav equipment or app could let you down on a journey – and we would always recommend that HGV drivers keep road maps in the cab just in case of technical failure.
Maps can also help drivers to identify terrain issues that a route might encounter, whilst sat nav information is updated in real time so the two navigation methods definitely complement each other.