What is commercial map data? What everyone in transportation needs to know about maps

Posted: 23 September, 2020 | By Dana Petrone

We’re all used to using maps and navigation apps on our mobile device. These apps are great when you’re in your car and need turn by turn guidance to an unfamiliar place  - just type in an address and hit GO! It's designed to route and navigate drivers using map data sufficient for automobiles. But what about those operating trucks and commercial vehicles? They need unique map data attributes that generate routes based on their vehicle’s dimensions, load, and more. Both from a legal and safety perspective (amongst many other things), using map data specifically designed for commercial vehicles is vital when routing and navigating.

So what exactly is commercial map data?

Commercial map data applies specific attributes to roadways - like bridge heights, weight limits, and truck-restricted, truck-designated and truck-prohibited roads - so that routes are calculated based on the vehicle’s requirements. You can even go more granular with commercial map data - by applying specific attributes to commercial locations (i.e.,  distribution center or truck stop), like truck entry and exit gates.

Here’s an example of a route from Philadelphia, PA to Alexandria, VA. The route on the left was calculated for an automobile. The route on the right was generated for a 48’ trailer and incorporated all truck restrictions and allowances.

PHL to Alex CAR

Automobile calculated route


PHL to Alex Truck Road

Route calculated for a truck based on road attributes and truck restrictions


In and around Washington, DC, there are truck restricted roads that prohibit oversized vehicles. Because the consumer map is designed for passenger vehicles, it routes cars along that stretch of road. The commercial map, however, knows the vehicle restrictions based on input of dimensions and load - and calculates a truck legal, safe route around the restricted area.

Here are other commercial attributes that ensure the safest, most precise routing and navigation for drivers:

  • Bridge clearances
  • Load limits
  • Vehicle height restrictions
  • One-way road designations
  • Left-hand and dangerous turn restrictions
  • Urban road classifications
  • Hazmat restrictions
  • Truck allowances
  • Toll costs based on axles, time of day and day of week
  • Precise boundary polygons and truck entry and exit gates at commercial locations

Why you should care about using commercial map data when routing and navigating

We all rank drivers’ and load safety as the number one priority in transportation. So why would a transportation company risk a bridge strike as a result of using consumer navigation? Not only are drivers and other motorists at high risk of injury, but the estimated loss in damages and fines is severe. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the maximum penalty for a company is $11,000, and a driver can be fined $2,750.

From an operational perspective, transportation companies rely on miles. Miles are the currency of the industry, and consumer maps won't provide the actual mileage calculations for trucks. Some routes may take longer than a consumer map will tell you based on the roadway restrictions. Don’t miss out on unpaid miles!

Trimble MAPS is a pioneer in commercial map data

We’ve dedicated our 40+ year history to compiling, building, maintaining a premium-quality, street-level digital map of the North American road network. Every day, our dedicated team of over 100 GIS engineers and digital cartographers worldwide inspect roadways to ensure your business is running on the most up to date maps. Can consumer maps say the same? We’re specifically designed for you.

Even better, our single source of commercial map data powers our entire suite of solutions, so whether you’re routing, scheduling, or navigating, you can ensure your routes are compliant, your operations are precise, and your drivers are safe.

Want to learn more about our map data or our focus on location intelligence? Check out some of our other articles on our blog, including:




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