Google Maps for Trucks: The Good, the Bad, and the Better Alternatives

keyKey Takeaways:
  • Truck routing is different from general vehicle routing as it requires you to consider truck-specific constraints related to height, weight, or turns and regulatory compliance requirements in addition to standard routing constraints.
  • Truck routing software has a competitive edge over Google Maps when it comes to truck navigation. This is because they provide truck-specific route guidance, like avoiding tolls or weight-restricted roads.
  • Choose truck routing software that provides offline access to prevent you from losing track of your drivers in zero coverage areas. You should also ensure that your software considers truck restrictions like height & weight limits to enhance safety compliance.

Did you know that even with the booming trucking industry projected $3.4 trillion market size by 2030, many truckers still struggle with inefficient routes? 

Relying on general navigation apps like Google Maps can lead to costly detours, missed deadlines, and even safety hazards due to limitations like low bridges, weight restrictions, and lack of truck-specific features. 

This blog explores the challenges of using Google Maps for trucks and unveils the top 5 truck routing software options that can help you optimize your commercial truck routes, save time and money, and ensure safe and efficient deliveries.

What Sets truck Routing apart from General Routing?

Truck routing refers to planning routes for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) or trucks.

It is not like regular vehicle routing as it has multiple facets to take into account, as follows.

1. Truck restrictions 

Unlike regular vehicles like bikes or cars, trucks may face truck-specific road restrictions and limitations while navigating routes. For example, their weight may prevent them from traversing certain roads or bridges with specific weight-bearing thresholds. Their height may also impede their movement on routes that involve low bridges or tunnels with insufficient clearances.

2. Turn restrictions

Being comparatively larger commercial vehicles, the turning radius of trucks is typically also more than standard vehicles. It means that they need more space to make a full turn without hitting nearby structures to prevent damage and ensure safety. So, traveling on narrow and congested streets in urban areas may not be feasible for truckers.

3. Payload capacity constraints

Trucks carry cargo of different types, ranging from heavy machinery to lightweight furniture items. So, truck routing necessitates determining the payload capacity of a truck and loading goods accordingly to maintain compliance with legal weight limits. It also entails distributing your weight optimally among trucks to avoid their under/overloading and dispatching them to routes that maximize their capacity utilization. 

4. Custom route preferences

Trucking companies often aim to minimize the toll fee and maximize cost savings. So, it is important to know toll roads and applicable charges while creating truck routes. Further, truck drivers may also prefer specific highways based on road conditions, speed limits, or drivers’ past experiences. So, truck routing entails taking into consideration all these factors. 

5. Real-time truck-specific traffic updates

Finding alternative paths immediately for truckers may not be feasible due to weight/height constraints. Therefore, real-time traffic alerts are more important for truckers than regular vehicle drivers. Truck routing necessitates monitoring up-to-the-minute traffic conditions, including congestion, road closures, or construction zones, to reroute trucks and avoid delays.

6. Regulatory compliance requirements

Truck routing considers applicable speed limits on different routes to determine the most suitable path for a truck. It also factors in drivers’ agreed-upon Hours of Service to create their daily schedules accordingly, ensuring legal adherence to labor laws. Besides, truck routing incorporates assessing factors like pollution levels, air quality index, or local emission protocols to avoid environmentally sensitive regions. 

7. Truck-specific amenities

Truck drivers are more prone to exhaustion and fatigue, unlike regular delivery drivers who 
travel comparatively shorter distances. Therefore, it entails identifying truck parking stops, rest areas, weigh stations, driver lounges, and fuel/service stations for each route they take. It helps keep drives rejuvenated and ensures they can quickly access repair services to keep their vehicles working optimally.

Now that you know what makes truck navigation different from general vehicle routing, let’s understand the positives and negatives of using Google Maps for it. 

Pros and Cons of Using Google Maps for Trucks

As already discussed, routing in the trucking industry is complex and has to accommodate various truck-specific constraints. 

Now the question is – Can Google Maps be ideal for your truck navigation or not?

The answer lies in understanding the pros and cons that can help you make an informed decision on whether to use it or not. 


1. User-friendly interface: 

Google Maps has a simple interface familiar to everyone including truckers, making it easy for them to use and navigate roads.

2. Cost-effectiveness: 

Unlike truck GPS apps that require heavy upfront installation and onboarding costs, Google Maps is typically free. Thus, it is cost-effective, especially if you have a small transportation company with budget constraints.

3. Cross-platform compatibility 

Google Maps is compatible with a broad range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and the in-vehicle infotainment system. This easy access across all device types improves flexibility and usability for you and your drivers. 


While Google Maps provides multiple navigation modes, including driving, public transit, cycling, and walking, it doesn’t support the truck mode. This makes it unsuitable for truckers right at the outset. Here are the downsides of using Google Maps for trucks that you can read.

1. Limited truck-specific information  

Using Google Maps for trucks may not provide truck-specific details, such as parking stops, rest areas, filling stations, or CAT scales. It, thus, may fail to cater to truck drivers’ specific navigation needs, hampering their productivity, efficiency, and convenience during transit. 

2. Inaccurate truck-specific routing directions

While Google Maps may offer basic routing directions, it may not account for the road restrictions that truckers may face due to their height, weight, and volume. This may result in the inadvertent violation of truck navigation regulations, increasing the risk of accidents and non-compliance penalties. 

3. Absence of multi-stop route optimization

Google Maps allows you to add up to only 10 stops at a time. However, as truck drivers have to cover multiple stops along their route, Google Maps may fail to add more stops and optimize routes for them. This lack of multi-stop route planning and optimization can result in suboptimal routes. It, in turn, can lead to unwanted mileage, fuel consumption, and wear/tear, escalating overall operational costs.

4. Lack of load and capacity planning 

Google Maps may fail to consider truck parameters like the permissible number of items, weight, or volume of goods. It may lead to sending a truck to a route that includes stops with non-matching load specifications. This can either cause under or overutilization of the available truck’s space and payload capacity, causing loading inefficiencies.  

5. Inability to provide real-time traffic and road alerts

Google Maps may fail to offer real-time updates on traffic and road conditions particularly relevant for trucks. For instance, it may not tell you whether a road is wide enough for trucks to travel. You may also fail to identify road closures, accidents, or specified operating hours for trucks on a specific road. 

6. Inadequate international navigation information 

Google Maps lacks exhaustive information about cross-border regulations and procedures, requisite paperwork, and customs requirements. If you are an international shipper, it may hinder your ability to comply with transnational freight transport laws and lead to non-adherence fines.

7. Constrained fleet management 

Google Maps may not offer customization options tailored for efficient truck fleet management. For example, it may not provide customization options like route preferences, real-time visibility, or integration with existing systems. It may hinder your fleet management operations and decrease your fleet dispatching efficiency.  

8. Reporting & analytics 

Google Maps doesn’t provide detailed reports and analytics to help assess your fleet’s or drivers’ performance. As a result, you may not get valuable insights to evaluate and improve your delivery efficiency and fleet productivity.

In short, while Google Maps may appear as cost-effective and user-friendly, its limitations outweigh the benefits it provides. Hence, using it for trucks is not a good idea, and you should refrain from using it for trucks. 

The next section explains how truck navigation apps can be a game-changer for your truck routing operations. 

7 Major Benefits of Truck GPS Apps for Truck Routing

Truck GPS (navigation) apps are designed to meet specific trucking needs, giving them a competitive edge over Google Maps. 

Following are the benefits of deploying truck GPS apps.  

1. Helps track and boost your fleet’s performance 

A truck app helps analyze each route that your truck drivers traverse through reports and analytics. These reports help you know details like the total number of stops your team delivered or missed along different routes. 

You can also assess an individual driver’s performance through their delivered and missed stops by day, week, or month. These insights help you find areas of improvement and take measures to improve delivery efficiency

2. Enhances compliance with truck-specific information

A truck navigation system helps identify the routes that comply with regulations regarding height, weight, and hazardous material transportation. Hence, it helps ensure that trucks don’t navigate weight-restricted roads or no-go zones and avoid legal implications that it could lead to. 

It also establishes you as a responsible trucking company that emphasizes legal adherence, boosting your brand reputation. 

3. Boosts customer satisfaction with accurate ETAs and timely deliveries 

Most truck apps provide route optimization that allows you to optimize your routes based on distance, traffic, and preferred time windows. These efficient routes help your truckers achieve on-time deliveries.

Further, they enable you to track your drivers in real time and predict their estimated arrival times (ETAs) precisely. Communicating these dynamic ETAs to customers helps enhance their visibility into delivery operations, enhancing their trust and satisfaction levels.

4. Enables operational cost savings through route planning and optimization

A truck GPS app helps create optimal truck routes based on general and truck-specific constraints like height and weight. These routes help reduce the distance that your truck drivers have to cover daily to execute deliveries, lowering fuel consumption. Moreover, minimizing distances to cover helps cut down on the wear/tear of your trucks and hence, the need for frequent maintenance expenses. Thus, optimizing routes contributes to overall operational cost savings.

5. Facilitates convenient, driver-friendly, and safe routing

A truck navigation app is equipped with a database of crucial points of interest and  truck-specific amenities, including:

  • Tuck parking availability
  • Rest areas
  • Weigh stations
  • Driver lounges 
  • Fuel/service stations

This information helps your truckers take appropriate breaks to refresh themselves. A rejuvenated driver is more alert and productive, preventing unsafe driving practices or delays. 

When your drivers can take specified breaks, it also helps you ensure your compliance with their legal Hours of Service and avoid adherence issues. Information on nearby service stations helps them address potential mechanical issues promptly before it hampers delivery timelines.

6. Improves fleet management through real-time visibility

A truck route app provides real-time visibility into the precise location and status of your trucks. Tracking them helps you ensure that they are following the designated path and not deviating from it. Live tracking also lets you send your maintenance team in case your truckers face a mechanical issue or guide them to the nearest service stations, improving fleet management.

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7. Allows for efficient load planning

A truck app not only helps you optimize routes but also plans your loads based on each truck’s weight and volume specifications. It lets you configure the number, permissible weight, and volume of goods for a truck. You can then dispatch each truck on the route that has loading /unloading stops matching its load specifications. It helps optimize your trucks’ payload capacity and maximize load efficiency.

Moving ahead, let’s read about the 5 best truck routing software that you may select from to streamline your truck routing activities.

Top 5 Truck Routing Solutions to Consider for 2024

Google Maps is a great tool for general navigation but falls short of truck-specific routing requirements. However, alternatives to Google Maps that can meet your trucking needs are available in the market.

Here is the list of the top 5 among them.

1. Upper

Upper is one of the prominent route optimization software solutions that can handle truck-related delivery operations efficiently. It lets you optimize routes using advanced routing algorithms, minimizing the time and effort of manual route planning. It also enables you to consider time, distance, and priority orders to create and shuffle the sequence of stops in preplanned routes. 

Another highlight feature is the adaptive custom notifications and the estimated time of arrival (ETA) that it provides. It further lets you schedule truck routes weeks or months ahead of time and archive recurring routes for future reference. Additionally, the Proof of Delivery feature that your drivers may use to collect photos or signatures of your customers as verifiable digital evidence for successful deliveries

Pricing starts at $100/month for up to 3 users on a monthly subscription basis for the Essentials edition.

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Simply add your stops, truck drivers’ details like start/stop points, and let Upper take it over from there. It will create efficient routes based on time or distance and reoptimize them every time you shuffle stops to accommodate changing priorities while retaining your delivery efficiency.

2. TruckLogics

TruckLogics stands out in the truck routing software industry for its ability to let you create LTL or FTL dispatches super-fast. It also provides real-time information about your drivers’ movements to enhance your visibility into their daily delivery activities. Besides, you can use it to allow your drivers to log their duty status through a user-friendly mobile app. It also lets you drag and drop the stops based on priority changes to reoptimize your route. 

TruckLogics enables configuring reminders about upcoming service dates for your trucks to maintain them in optimal condition. Moreover, it lets you consider drivers’ preferences besides standard parameters like traffic, truck type, time windows, or priority orders. 

Pricing starts at $39.95 for a small fleet of 1 or 2 trucks and increases proportionately to the number of trucks. 

3. ToroTMS

Toro TMS is also a leading name in the market of the all-in-one Trucking Management Software industry. It provides the order management functionality that allows you to enter, schedule, and assign loads to your truck drivers based on their availability. Another salient feature it has is KPI reporting, such as revenue per mile or booked orders. 

These insights let you make data-driven decisions to improve your fleet operations. Besides, the real-time GPS tracking that it provides helps you monitor your delivery progress, identify delays, and address issues swiftly to retain delivery efficiency. Additionally, it helps you record and manage each driver’s documents like driving licenses or customs papers, and get reminders to renew them timely. 

Pricing is custom based on factors like the number of trucks, drivers, and stops.

4. Sygic

Sygic is one of the most downloaded offline GPS apps for large-sized vehicles. It helps customize routes based on vehicle parameters, including your vehicle’s type and size. It also lets you configure the maximum limit speed, length, and height for your truck and select routes that avoid tolls, U-turns, or right turns.

Sygic’s USP lies in the enhanced offline accessibility that lets you prevent the risk of losing the connection with your truck driver in poor network coverage areas. Sygic also offers up-to-date information on drivers’ points of interest, like rest areas, truck stops, or lounges. It also sends alerts like the weigh station status to indicate whether they are open or closed. 

Pricing starts at 13.99 € for 3 months.

5. DrDispatch 

DrDispatch is an optimal truck routing solution for businesses of all sizes, ranging from small startups to enterprises. It lets you automate the import of load sheets and dispatch them to your drivers in a matter of minutes. You can also leverage the load board it provides to track the status of your loads in one place. 

The mobile app it provides helps you chat and track your drivers to ensure seamless delivery management. Another salient feature is the maintenance module that monitors upcoming repair schedules and the cost of equipment required for it. Lastly, DrDispatch’s customer service is also prompt enough to address your queries and concerns, making it more user-friendly.

Pricing is custom based on factors like the number of trucks, drivers, and stops.

Going ahead, let’s find out what you should look for while choosing your truck routing software

8 Features to Consider While Choosing Your Truck Routing Software in 2024

Long-haul trucking focuses on optimizing truck routes to decrease fuel costs, minimize maintenance expenses, and maximize delivery efficiency. It also makes sure that truck drivers follow legal truck regulations and restrictions to avoid inadvertent violations and penalties.

So, let’s go through the features that can help take your truck navigation to the next level. 

1. Truck-specific routing information and traffic updates

As already clear, truck routing is different and requires you to consider navigation constraints due to the size and weight of trucks. Therefore, your truck app must allow for creating truck-specific routes that comply with trucking laws. It should also provide real-time traffic updates like road closures, diversions, or accidents to help you plan a detour quickly before your driver gets stuck. 

2. Route optimization

Your trucking GPS app must provide the route optimization feature. It should leverage advanced algorithms to create the most efficient routes, considering factors like traffic, speed limit, preferred delivery time windows, and load specifications. Accordingly, it should let you plan the fastest and legally compliant route for your drivers. 

3. Seamless user experience 

Your truck routing software must have a simple and easily navigable interface that lets you and your truckers use it easily and efficiently. It should also be intuitive and interactive and guide you on using each functionality to tap into its maximum potential and shorten your team’s learning curve. 

4. Offline availability 

Make sure that the truck app you choose provides offline access to maps and routes. It is especially important in areas with poor network coverage and is key to keeping your drivers on track and executing deliveries without interruptions. 

5. Integration capabilities

The truck navigation app you select must allow integration with your existing business systems, including Enterprise Resource Planning, Customer Relationship Management, or Inventory Management Systems. Software like Upper provides an open API to facilitate seamless integration with your existing software

6. Live tracking

No matter which truck app you choose, it must have GPS tracking functionality. It lets you stay up-to-date with your drivers’ progress to know any issues along the route and mitigate them proactively. 

7. Proof of Delivery 

This feature is essential to record your successful deliveries in digital format and maintain verifiable evidence for future reference. So, your trucking app should allow your drivers to collect signatures or capture photos of each successfully delivered order. 

8. Reports & analytics 

Your trucking app must also provide detailed reports of each driver’s performance based on the total stops they deliver or miss each day, week, or month. It is helpful as it lets you evaluate your fleet efficiency, find areas of improvement, and take corrective actions.

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Go beyond Google Maps  to Elevate Your Truck Routing Efficiency

Physical street maps are the talk of the past since online route planning has taken the trucking or virtually the entire transportation industry by storm. While Google Maps may be the pioneer of seamless navigation and is popular across the globe, it doesn’t fit when it comes to creating truck routes. 

While benefits like zero usage fees or cross-platform compatibility may tempt you to deploy it, using Google Maps cannot serve your purpose eventually. The reason is the lack of truck-specific features and routing guidance that form the cornerstone of efficient truck dispatching. Nevertheless, there are multiple alternative solutions or truck GPS apps available in the market that you can pick from and transform your truck routing efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hardly a dedicated app for truck navigation app is absolutely free. However, most truck maps operate on freemium models. It means that they may allow you to use limited features in the free version and require you to upgrade to a paid version for full access to features.

Google Maps doesn’t provide the truck mode for navigation, making it unsuitable for truck routing. Moreover, it doesn’t provide truck-specific features like road restrictions, weight limits, or information on points of interest for truckers. So, it is not advisable to not set Google Maps for trucks.

Toll information, truck distances, truck transit times, up-to-date road restrictions, and information on truck-specific amenities like parking lots, petrol stations, or rest areas are some features you can look for.

As Google Maps was initially designed with general drivers and not commercial vehicle drivers in mind, it doesn’t provide the ‘Truck’ navigation mode.

Using Google Maps for truck navigation can cause inadvertent non-compliance with truck-specific navigation regulations and costly trips due to heavy toll fees. It can also lead to delivery delays and safety hazards for drivers as they don’t get real-time updates on traffic conditions or no-go zones for trucks.

Different truck routing software and apps like Upper, TruckLogics, ToroTMS, Sygic, and DrDispatch can serve as potential alternatives to Google Maps.

Dedicated truck routing software provides the following benefits: (1) legal compliance with ruck-specific routing information, (2) better visibility into deliveries with real-time tracking, (3) timely deliveries & cost savings through route optimization, and (4) enhanced customer satisfaction through adaptive customer notifications.

Yes. Most truck routing software like Upper and Dynoroute provides an open API that you can configure to integrate with your existing system software.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.