Doing a lot of city driving, I often am puzzled by the suggestions that my GPS shows as the fastest route. Of course it has settings that allow you to set it for either the fastest route or shortest route, but sometimes neither are as fast as the route I know as the best from experience. This is what led me to pay attention over the past couple weeks and measure some time differences between what my GPS unit calculated as the shortest route and the fastest route on a lot of my regular deliveries.
What I witnessed while conducting this was that I was able to use a function I had not previously known of on my GPS that was available after the newest software update, which allows me to compare multiple route options prior to selecting one as my path of travel. In doing so, I was able to compare up to three route options right on the screen and visually verify ahead of time if it was taking the “scenic route” or actually getting me the most direct approach. As I have stated previously, I use this unit in conjunction with Google Maps as well as my previous routing experience, so I am able to find the true “fastest route”.
As a general observation, I noticed that the GPS might not have known a route was truck-safe, so it would route me around it taking up precious minutes on every delivery route. When I took the time to pay close attention, I noticed the “fastest route” option bettered my times over the “shortest route” option by 2-3 minutes on many of my regular routes. Taking this routing experiment a step further, I began adding my own routing knowledge to that of the GPS in its fastest route calculating and began to shave off 4-6 minutes in some cases. Although this does not seem like a big deal, lets look at what this results in. The shorter travel times not always were the product of shorter routes, but usually resulted in less stoplights and needless idle time sitting at red ones. Although it doesn’t seem like a big deal to save six minutes per run to most drivers, an average of just five minutes per leg of a run for me can mean an extra hour per day and the possibility of another run.
So the next time you overview your GPS routing, remember that a complicated calculation of its pre-programmed routing may not be the only approach to getting where you need to go in the most efficient real-world manner. These units take into account speed limits in their calculating and not necessarily the real travel speed of a roadway. When was the last time you were traveling through a city and were actually able to maintain the speed limit through the whole city without a stoplight or pedestrian causing you to slow or stop? Remember to use your GPS wisely, combine it with your knowledge rather than follow it aimlessly into the dark, and you too can gain precious time back into your trucking day!