It’s the dead of winter in the middle of a city facing white-out conditions. Streets are clogged with cars parked carelessly at odd angles or left abandoned to the stormy weather. Clumps of snow cover street signs, visibility is low, roads are slippery and treacherous. Most people have long since gone inside. The only sign of life is a heavy-duty snow plow, a two-ton vehicle, slowly going about its business clearing streets.
Inside the truck, a dome light is on, enabling the driver to read from a paper map. Or worse, he struggles to decipher hand-written notes about last-minute changes to his route–while still driving!
Relying on a paper map to ensure your drivers can navigate streets on low-visibility nights in inclement weather is limiting and dangerous. It’s also unnecessary.
Digital v Paper Maps
The good news is drivers no longer need to fumble around looking at paper maps or hand-written notes to finish their route. Today’s drivers are empowered with digitized maps at their fingertips, ensuring safety and route completion under even the most challenging of weather conditions.
But not all drivers are ready to give up their paper maps and not all digitized maps are equal. Which begs the question: should you stick with paper or is it finally time to go digital?
Here are five reasons why I believe digital maps are superior to conventional paper maps, and why now might be the time to replace your paper maps with digitized versions.
- Digital Maps are Mobile
Granted, paper maps can be folded and stored in a glove compartment or carried in a pocket. In that sense, they are mobile. But paper maps are limited in the information they convey while mobile.
Unlike paper maps, digitized maps visually indicate where you are at any point in your route. Digital maps move as you move and reflect your exact position at any point in a route. You can zoom in on a view, scroll left or right, and otherwise make your map respond to different locations on your route.
- Digital Maps are Dynamic
Thanks to GPS technology, both driver and fleet administrator know where the driver is at all times.
Additionally, the best digital maps and associated software enable drivers to receive last-second updates to a route or even add their own notes while traversing a current route.
For instance, if abandoned cars block a route—a common occurrence during a snow storm–or if there’s road construction, say, or police cars on-site responding to an emergency, such unexpected hazards can be communicated immediately to the backend office and shared with other drivers.
- Digital Maps are More Durable
Simply put, the typical weather a snow plow driver works in is not conducive to paper, a product at the mercy of the elements. Electronic displays, on the other hand, are typically display mounts and ruggedized. They can be seen in any weather while protecting the quality and condition of the maps they display.
- Digital Maps are Customizable
If the normal route is blocked, a digital map could suggest the best detour, enabling the driver to note the change in route. Plus, digital maps can be paired with audible turn-by-turn navigation, enabling drivers to focus on the road ahead.
- Digital Maps are Common
Just about everyone you know most likely has a smartphone, and those phones have GPS-driven maps. Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data, estimates there are currently 262 million smartphone users in the U.S. Why is this important to your fleet operation? Millennial drivers are going to expect digital maps. It means there’s little, if any, learning curve in using and reading digital maps. It also means that if you have a substitute driver, he or she will not need to be familiar with the route. Add in audible turn-by-turn directions and even your least experienced drivers will be able to finish their routes safely.
Today, digital maps can go with you anywhere, they’re always up-to-date, don’t require folding, never fade or wrinkle, are visually easier to read than a traditional map and, backed up by the right software, can be updated in real-time to reflect changing road conditions. The result is a safer, more successful route for your drivers.
Someone once said we’re all on the same journey but the difference is some of us have better road maps. It’s time to let digitized maps be your guide. They’re not the way of the future, they’re the way of today.