Map Guy


Maps have always been cool to me. It may have been my first globe. The ones where the mountains were actually raised. The Social Studies teacher had those maps that rolled down from above the black boards. They had two circles. One for the each hemisphere. The one that I loved though was the US highway map. My dad had one in his office. You could get anywhere using this map. As a kid I thought that is was cool. I could run my finger along the highways and go anywhere.


Maps are still great. Sure, we have satellite technology. We have a TND and a GPS. Our smart phones can tell us how to get where we're going. To this day I will pull out my atlas and look. After more than 3,000,000 miles, I can pretty much tell you the route that I am going to take. Still, I will open up that atlas and check my route. My finger will run across the route. In my mind I am planning all of my stops. Back in the day I had a briefcase full of city street maps. That no longer makes the trip. Most of those maps have joined my old baseball cards, gone.


I will look up my route on the internet. I will zoom in on the stops. The satellite images are helpful. The one I still look at most is the street map. What are the cross streets? What is the name of the street before my turn off? The front of the atlas still gets used. They will list load limited routes. Low clearances are listed too. So are the permanent weigh stations.


Folding up those old maps was a skill. It took patience. You had to follow the folds. Eventually many of my street maps got torn in half. They still worked. Plus they were easier to fold. Nostalgic, yes, these new TNDS are pretty awesome. They love to argue with me when I go my way. “Make a U turn as soon as possible.” NO! I am going my way. Take that you silly satellite.


Then I noticed something. I was doing a mini study comparing HHG miles to TND miles. HHG miles averaged about 93% of TND miles. The cool thing was that I was consistently beating the TND. Then I heard another driver complaining about a certain brand of TND. It was taking him “all over the place”. I looked at him and said “use the map”. What? USE THE MAP! Dang kids!


Yes, I have a TND in my truck. I will occasionally whip out my smart phone and create a map of the area, or look up directions. If I am going some place new, I will almost always look up the routing. I will check out the satellite view of the area. Then, I will get out my atlas. You just can't beat a smart, experienced driver and a map.


Comments (6)

Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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Yes, Jimmy and doesn't ETA stand for time to beat?

February 17, 2014 5:44:07 AM

Being a techy myself, I still never trust the GPS for being the most accurate and time-saving. Luckily, I know most of my routes and customers pretty well and have developed a habit of wanting to "outsmart" my GPS a lot of times when I know I can get there quicker. I am a big supporter to the fact that using a map is a skill no driver should be without! After all, technology can get you in just as much hot water as driving aimlessly in the dark!

February 16, 2014 15:04:38 PM

It is important to say that I like my GPS. There are some things that it does incredibly well. I also like my satellite maps. But, don't throw away that Atlas yet. For trip planning-it still can not be beat.

February 15, 2014 10:55:56 AM

Having a back plan to a GPS and the all time handy Smart Phone is a good idea ., The old road atlas is a simple low cost way to find your way should there be a unexpected problem with these more modern devises. This led me to think about what it would be like if for some unknown reason all of the GPS devises quit working at the same time . It would be crazy for many people to find their way without GPS. With that being said I need to find my pocket compass and sexton just in case. Just kidding I only have a the compass.

February 14, 2014 16:53:29 PM

Knowing how to use a map is a great skill to have when a GPS or Smart Phone breaks for some reason. Just imagine what it would look like in a short time if the satellite's went down for a day ! The new technology is great however its still a good idea to have a back up plan. Now where did I put my handy pocket compass and sexton .

February 14, 2014 16:46:35 PM

Our girls were involved in a lot of school activities and we often traveled over 100 miles to events. The girls rode the bus to the event and then would ride home with me. To teach them map skills I would have them map a way hope not using roads they traveled on to get to the event. We had a lot of fun and in that fun they learned to read a map.

February 14, 2014 11:40:16 AM