In recent news, it was reported a tractor-trailer in New Jersey, took an unexpected detour. This was not simply a missed exit or a rerouting due to construction, mind you. No, this tractor trailer took a short trip down Ventnor City’s lovely Ventnor Boardwalk. Obviously, this was not a detour that could be easily righted. The driver ended up cruising down the Boardwalk for three full miles before finally giving up and coming to a complete stop. In the driver’s defense, the trip would likely have been much shorter if he could have found a turnaround on the boardwalk that would accommodate a 65’ tractor-trailer. The truck itself caused damage to 100 feet of railing during its extraction.

Now, before you begin shaking your head in disapproval at a driver whom one might incorrectly assume must have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should understand how the driver ended up on the Boardwalk in the first place. Once officials determined that the driver was indeed completely sober, they learned that the driver had ended up on this narrow stretch of pedestrian walkway as a result of following his truck’s GPS navigation app.1

You can’t punish technology

News stories such as this remind me of that 2007 episode of The Office. You remember, the one where Michael Scott drives his rental vehicle into Lake Scranton as a result of a rigid adherence to the vehicle’s GPS navigation instructions? While admittedly fictitious, this incident, a mocking display of the mindless acceptance of ubiquitous new technologies (such as the website, “Dunder Mifflin Infinity”) that supposedly enslave the working man and threaten the livelihood of the brick-and-mortar gems like Dunder Mifflin Paper Supply, further exposes the need for intuitive and reliable navigation tools.

And if you will indulge me yet one more anecdote, this one from my own personal experience: Just over a decade ago, in an attempt to impress a member of the fairer sex, I suggested our taking a short drive south for a weekend trip to Six Flags over Texas. In an effort to demonstrate my wise navigational prowess, I opened my phone’s navigation app and dutifully followed the directions provided…right into the middle of a random suburban neighborhood. Impressive, no doubt. After some discussion and a begrudging stop at a local convenience store, we finally found our way to the sprawling complex that is Six Flags, even in spite of my navigation app – a product of the largest search engine in the world at the time of this writing.

I doubt that I, Michael Scott, and the unnamed tractor-trailer driver in New Jersey are the only ones with GPS horror stories like these. Some stories (like mine) damage only the ego, while others (like Michael Scott’s and the unnamed New Jersey driver’s) impact the checkbook. To wit: in addition to having to make arrangements to repair the damaged railing, the New Jersey driver was issued a couple of summonses. And just to banish the thought that these incidents are merely rare exceptions, I would note that the New Jersey police chief mentioned that the Boardwalk Trailer Experience was the second such incident in as many months, on the same boardwalk.

Turn-by-turn directions are not enough for today’s drivers

While reliable mapping is obviously a necessity, drivers today really need more than just simple turn-by-turn directions in a navigation app. After all, even an accurate mapping system can still direct a driver down a path with a low bridge or along a section of highway that prohibits hazardous loads.

Designed for fleets, TouchStar’s NavAid GPS navigation app provides highly detailed, turn-by-turn instructions to keep you off of boardwalks out of lakes, and in the right neighborhood. And because instructions are provided audibly, you can keep your eyes safely on the road ahead as notifications alert you to turns well enough in advance for even a 65’ truck to get into the turn lane. But beyond accurate mapping, TouchStar’s NavAid app and its valuable add-ons can notify drivers of routes that need to be avoided in plenty of time to find an alternate route.

NavAid and NavWatch alert drivers to:

  • Bridge clearances on the road ahead that may be lower than needed to pass
  • Roads and bridges with lowered weight capacities or compromised abilities to support the weight of a loaded tractor-trailer
  • Hazmat routes that steer drivers with hazardous loads away from potentially dangerous terrain or vulnerable areas of town
  • Dangerous or unaccommodating driving routes

In addition to these resources, NavWatch allows fleet managers and dispatchers to keep a handle on vehicle speeds in light of posted speed limits. If the driver is speeding, NavWatch provides an audible in-cab notification. If the driver does not correct his speed within a specified time, the home office is notified, enabling fleet managers to address potential issues and to generate and reinforce best practices for the entire fleet.

Safety and efficiency are nonnegotiables when it comes to commercial transportation, and NavAid delivers both in a single app. NavAid, like all other TouchStar apps, can be integrated into a comprehensive fleet management platform that also includes dispatch and telematics as well as planning tools and business intelligence through automated performance monitors. Contact TouchStar today to learn more about NavAid, NavWatch, and TouchStar’s other Android-based mobility apps.

Want to read more about fleet mobility?

1 For more details, see “Truck follows GPS directions onto boardwalk, leaving trail of damage behind,” at http://www.nj.com/atlantic/index.ssf/2017/09/gps_leads_tractor_trailer_to_drive_on_to_boardwalk.html

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