Navigation

In any community that deals with any kind of driving, we often hear of people talking about ‘distracted driving’, and while they’re most often speaking of smart phones, there are other devices that can cause a distraction, and i’d like to talk about one of those today: GPS/Navigation devices.

While I do not fault people for using some form of digital navigation, GPS, or combination device, I do want to caution you: Most devices are not designed for larger vehicles, such as commercial trucks, motor homes, travel trailers, or other RV’s. “So, Daniel, what do we do about this?” Well faithful reader, i’m glad you asked! This is a fairly simple fix, and there’s only three key pieces of information you really need to know:

1) Overall height: The overall height of the vehicle should be measured on mostly level ground, from the top of the highest point of your rig, down to the ground. Be sure to keep in mind A/C units, satellite domes, or other devices mounted on your roof. I recommend a sticky label on your dashboard with the OverAllHeight on it so when you forget, you have an easy reference when you’re driving.

2) Length: It’s a good idea to know how long your rig from tip to tail, or front most protrusion to rear-most protrusion, as well as distance between axles. Typically you won’t need that information on the Interstate system, but if you decice to venture off onto the US or State highway systems, you’re likely to come to a crossing of some kind that dictates how much you can weigh, how long you can be, or some formula involving both of those factors.

3) Weight: GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, is the maximum your vehicle can weigh and still operate within its specifications. This is especially important when towing a trailer, as you do not want to exceed the GVWR of the tow vehicle. Knowing the max you can weigh is helpful for places where your “licensed” weight is limited, but knowing how much your rig actually weighs (called actual weights) is just as important. You can find the GVWR on the stickers on your vehicle(s), and you can find your actual weight by loading up your rig as you normally would (be sure to top off the fresh water tank(s) if you normally travel with water!) and running across a scale at a truck stop (be sure to go inside and let them know you’re doing a non-commercial weigh, first).

Knowing your facts will help you decide if it’s safe to make that crossing, and knowing your route will help you put you at ease and get you where you want to go safely. If you do use a digital navigation device, do be sure to browse over your route for potential issues before you start driving, and keep your eyes sharp for issues along the way that your nav device can’t tell you about.

Happy trails! 😀

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