No one wants to hit a low bridge. Not only is it embarrassing but you also create a lot of damage that your insurance company may not pay for. Be like a Boy Scout and be prepared for whatever comes your way along your chosen route. Planning ahead helps protect your travels & RV.
Both Waze and Google maps are owned by Google Corp. While Google Maps is more well-known, Waze is a driver-focused app that is a crowd sourced for information about road conditions and more. Either app should help you avoid low bridges.
To learn more about the different apps that can help you avoid bridge disasters, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can get around the country easier and worry-free.
This is a very important question you need to ask prior to leaving your home or last campsite. It is normal for people to get off the bland and boring interstates and explore their country.
However, there are roads where RVs just do not belong and the low bridges on those roads will remind you of that fact. To answer that question, you will need a little help.
There are a lot of download apps that specialize in road navigation and some will even tell you where low bridges are located. Your job will be to analyze the data sent to you by those apps so you can pick the best route for you and your family.
One drawback to using the internet is not that some of these apps do not show low bridges but that you need an internet connection to get the information you need. Some, like Google Maps, work offline but this is not a perfect system either.
But if you are in an area where you can’t use your phone or it has lost its power, you need an old-school method to plan your route. There are specialized paper atlases that truckers still use to get the best route for their deliveries.
They work all the time. You do not need batteries or an internet connections, just someone to turn the pages when needed. It works and can help you avoid any low-clearance bridges that may be in your path.
This actually is not a difficult task anymore. Since trucks and RVs have been getting larger and longer, companies have seen the need and they have done something about it.
All you have to do is find one of their products that contain this information. Surprisingly, most are very accurate and you should not have any trouble finding those low-clearance bridges.
One such resource is called Mountain Directory. It comes in a traditional book, e-book, and app format so you can get the information you want in your preferred manner.
Also, you can use the Trucker’s Atlas or Rand McNally’s Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas. Booth is in traditional formats and perfect when you are in an area that does not have internet service.
You should never leave home without traditional help as they work when electronic devices fail. Then, when you have a good connection, go to lowclearance.com.
This is an internet database that has information on over 7000 bridges with low clearance. It looks to be a very informative website that can help you plan your route when you can get connected.
Also, you need to keep your eyes open as you drive. The signs that the Dept. Of Highways puts out are there for a reason. They will warn you of bridges, etc., that come with very low clearances. The warnings may not be miles in advance so be careful as you drive.
This is not a task that takes only a few seconds to do. You need to have an idea of the route you want to take first. Then you need to scan that potential route using the apps and atlases we have already mentioned or will mention in this article.
They will tell you where those low bridges are, and if they don’t you should change your apps or atlases. As you find those low bridges, you should look for nearby alternative routes to see if they bypass those obstacles and not take you too far out of your way.
As we said, you should always carry a traditional atlas with you because there are large areas of the country that do not have internet service. These books may cost you a little but most are cheaper than the yearly fee you have to pay for the apps.
RV Trip Wizard is a good tool that lets you know where low-clearance bridges are and more. This handy little tool also helps you plan fuel stops, find campgrounds as well as helping you calculate your trip’s overall cost.
Or you can go to Garmin RV GPS or RV Life app to find your way through those back roads without putting your vehicle or trailer in danger of hitting a bridge. There are more apps to come. The app stores are full of navigational tools to help you enjoy the country safely.
As good as Waze is or as people think Google is, they do have their faults and with the former, that app does not have bridge heights or tunnel clearances to help you plan your trip.
But, you are not left without aid. The website we gave in the last section will help you find those low bridges on your route. The good news is that it is not the only option you have.
There are at least 2 more and they are called Low Clearance Locations and Camp & RV – Tent Camping to RV Parks. Their drawback is that they do not integrate very well with other apps and navigational devices.
Then there is All-Stays Camp & RV that should give you the clearances and you can check Google Maps to see what they offer. Also, you can try this option, Rand McNally RV GPS app.
That is if you rely more on GPS than mobile phone apps. GPS has its faults but Rand McNally has been making maps for over 100 years. That company should have the best accuracy, or at least we hope they do.
It is hard to test the accuracy until you are actually out on the road. This trial and error situation can be tricky and risky. One cell phone app was off by about 2 miles so you do have to be careful which app you choose to use.
When you are looking at apps, do not ignore the ones labeled ‘trucks’. Those apps will work for your RV as the information and roads are the same for both RVs and trucks. Both vehicles have height in common so look at those truck apps and see if they are best for you or not.
There are plenty of apps for truckers and RVs. We will list a few more that we have not already mentioned so far:
1. Ezlogz all-in-one ELD Trucking Logbook app- includes bridge heights
2. RoadLords- helps with road construction, and radar traps and uses GPS systems.
3. TruckMap – Truck GPS Routes- supposed to work for trucks only but has a database of truck stops, etc.
4. Sygic Truck GPS Navigation- can plan your route for you leaving out all roads not suitable for your RV
5. Trucker Path- will help you locate low-clearance bridges and truck restricted roads
6. RV Parks & Campgrounds- you will get help with low-clearance bridges, campgrounds in North America, and more
You may find other ones that work well for you on your app stores. We won’t be able to mention them all. Check your app stores and see what the reviews say and then analyze what they can do for you before making your final decision.
And as always, make sure to have a traditional atlas as a back-up. Electronics and technology may be fun but it is of no use to you when you have no battery power or signal.
You can always turn a page of an atlas no matter what time of day or night you need to use it.
We have looked at one example on Google Maps and it seems that this option does show low-clearance bridges. On the left side of the screen is the following message for this example:
“This map contains basic information regarding the locations and heights of low bridge clearances on New York City’s limited-access highways (expressways and parkways).
There are several hundred low vertical clearance structures in New York City. This map does not include all of them. It does not include low bridge locations on local streets.”
You are getting basic information only and some bridges might not be included in their system. It is hard to say from this point of view and you can only know when you put your route into the Google Map system.
We did not like the interface as it would not show us any more low bridges at any point in the US. There are some owners that do not recommend using Google Maps for RV travel. They preferred Google Earth and other options we have already mentioned.
There is a website called lowclearancemap.com and it is okay as you put in your intended route and it shows you different bridges along the way. Our problem was that when we added the 12 vehicle height, it only showed those bridges with a clearance of 12 feet.
It is not the best alternative to Google maps even though Google Maps is not that accurate or reliable. It has been said it is a good last mile app and that is about it.
This is not a good source for your travels when you are worried about if your taller RV will make it under a bridge or not. The word we have on this resource is that you should look for other apps or resources to get the information you want.
This map service is great if you are remaining local or trying to find the exact street you need when you are visiting a home of a friend, etc. But beyond that, it is not very accurate and does not contain the information you want.
We looked at a map of Seattle with this service and while it was good for pinpointing locations of campgrounds, big box stores, etc., it did not have any height restriction information available that we saw.
You also won’t get bridge weight restrictions with this service. That is understandable as nothing is perfect. Just because Google is trying to take over the world does it mean that it puts out a perfect product.
We would suggest that you find an alternative to use that provides the information you need. Keep in mind that Garmin has a camera system as well as an app. But the range is so short that it may not be practical to use on long RVs.
As you can see y the disclaimer posted in the previous section, Google knows its information is not as accurate as it could be. Just because Google is famous does it mean you can rely on its products to get you to where you are going.
For long distances most people use an alternative, switching to Google Maps only when they are close to their destination.
We checked the Google/Waze web page and as of 2021, there are no plans to add bridge height to their system. What that means is that if they have not implemented something that supports reporting bridge heights, you can’t avoid low-clearance bridges using this system.
You would need to go with other apps or traditional atlases to get that information and change your route accordingly. Maybe if enough RVers and truckers wrote into their suggestion service, maybe the company will change its mind.
The Waze staff is supposed to monitor this customer service option and they say that some suggestions have been implemented. With more voices writing in, it may persuade the people at Waze and convince them that this is important data that should be included.
There are better apps that will provide you with this information so don’t use Waze just because it is owned by Google. It will have as many flaws as Google Maps even though it is community information focused.
Check out the other alternatives to this app and see the difference. There are some great navigational apps out there. It may just take a while to find them.
From what we have been able to find out iPhone Maps does not help you find low-clearance bridges and avoid them. It is not even a service listed on at least one top best apps for low clearance.
We checked the Apple website and we found no explanation on how to use this feature. We got a lot of hype and the message that to use all of iPhone’s apps and features, you need to upgrade to iOS 15, iPad OS 15, and macOS Monterrey to get access to all of iPhone’s map features.
So it may be there but hard to access if you are not up-to-date. What we have found in our research are the recommendations to use other options when you need this information.
We have not seen either Google maps or iPhone Maps recommended by anyone for any traveling reason. iPhone Maps may be like Google Maps in that it is great for the last few miles of your trip but can’t be counted on for anything else.
We would recommend that if you like your privacy stay away from apps built by Google or Apple. You can get a lot of good apps compatible with your iPhone that works better.
This is hard to determine as while some people praise the GPS apps made by top companies, there is an equal amount of people who report their bad experiences with the same app.
But if you want to use GPS over your cell phone, there are some good products you can use. Rand McNally’s Over Dryve 7 RV GPS has been recommended by some experts.
Others have suggested that RV LIFE or RV Trip Wizard is a good app to use but its GPS function is not the best. Co-Pilot was said to be good until you uploaded an update. Then it started giving out weird directions and routes.
Then Garmin RV GPS has been said to be the best of them all. But it might face competition from the number of apps we listed previously for you. Their GPS functions are supposed to be good.
But, you will have to decide for yourselves on this issue as there are far more navigational aids in the different app stores and websites that do a very good job but do not get the press to be well-known.
The ones that get trucker approval are Rand McNally’s and Garmin’s. But when it comes to GPS, you are still taking your chances as this system has been known to lead people to the beach and get them stuck in the sand.
When in doubt, use the traditional atlas, that way you can plan your own route and make sure no mistakes have been made. Nothing beats the old traditional options and they work all the time.
Before you go off and buy an app that is supposed to help you find your way around low-clearance bridges, you should check with the different States first. If they are like Washington State, then their Dept, of Transportation will have a web page telling you where their low-clearance bridges are.
It is called the WSDOT State Route Bridge Vertical Clearance Trip Planner and it will even show low-clearance tunnels. It is a good option as the DOTs of each state know exactly where all the low bridges and tunnels are located.
For Texas, their low clearance information is on the txdmv website and they have divided the state into 25 regions. You just click on the region you are going through and get specific locations and heights etc.
If you are on a limited budget, this information provided by the different states is free. Just remember that each state will not be responsible for any damage if it happens when you use their information.
If you do not want to use the state’s information, then go to one of the many atlases we have mentioned in this article. To get their information, you do not have to manipulate the screen. You just open the book to the right page and it should be very readable and clear.
The atlases are also faster to use than any internet app that may or may not be accurate. There are also no updates to mess with the data and send you of fin the wrong direction.
You can always keep track of where you are with an atlas.
Technology has allowed different companies and organizations to develop apps that should help you. The information in those apps should be up-to-date and help you plan a route around low-clearance bridges and other obstacles.
Finding the best one is risky as even updates can ruin a good app. Just make sure to have a back up along with you so that when you have no internet service or you are out of battery power, you can still find your way around those bridges.
Traditional methods cannot be beaten by internet apps.