What is GPS Truck Tracking?
GPS truck tracking is an advanced technology installed in trucks that transmits real-time data into a fleet management system and displays driver assistance information in-cab. Direct benefits include fuel savings, improved productivity, increased driver safety and managing compliance, such as Hours of Service (HOS) and DVIR.
How does GPS truck tracking work?
GPS truck tracking systems allow businesses to see and understand when, where and how their vehicles are being used, including driver behavior, maintenance alerts, and more. Here’s how GPS truck tracking works:
- Truck GPS tracking devices are small, easily installed devices that connect to a vehicle's OBDII or another diagnostics port. These devices connect to cellular or satellite data networks and transmit important information to the home office for analysis and decision making.
- Multiple devices collect data from the vehicle and its driver in real-time. Devices include:
- GPS units, which identify location, ignition status, odometer information, vehicle diagnostics and more.
- Accelerometers, which determine when a vehicle starts or stops moving and also records harsh braking, harsh acceleration, and harsh cornering incidents.
- Cameras that capture high-definition video footage of the road and the driver. Cameras can be forward-facing, driver-facing or provide a full 360-degree view. When equipped with AI, cameras can also spot and alert for poor driving behaviors, such as tailgating, speeding, stop-sign violations, and distracted driving.
- The data captured is then used in two ways:
- Some forms of data are used to provide the driver with real-time alerts and notifications. For example, AI-enabled cameras can tell a driver that they are driving distracted when they have picked up their phone or that they are tailgating. This provides valuable hands-off self-coaching for drivers.
- All of the data is pushed back into the fleet management platform which sorts and organizes the data so it can be interpreted by the business. The most common functionality is to show vehicle location, but many businesses expand to measure driver safety, compliance, workflow efficiency, and maintenance. The more advanced solutions include data analytics dashboards that highlight key performance trends, with the most recent platforms incorporating AI technology which can directly answer business questions and automatically identify and flag performance changes.
How does GPS tracking benefit businesses?
The benefits of GPS tracking are invaluable to fleet owners. Businesses using GPS truck tracking gain access to accurate, timely information about their trucking operations to help make better business decisions. The five primary benefits of GPS truck tracking are:
- Improved safety and compliance
- Reduced fuel costs
- Lower overall operational costs
- Increased productivity
- Better communication
GPS Truck Tracker Compliance Solutions
Meeting local, state and federal compliance rules, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ELD Mandate, is a leading driver in the adoption of GPS technologies. There are three main compliance areas of which fleets need to be aware:
- ELD: Prompted by calls to reduce fatigue-related accidents on the road, the FMCSA enacted in ELD Mandate starting in 2016. Pushback from drivers was massive, forcing fleet owners to prioritize driver-friendly devices and create programs to encourage adoption and ease privacy concerns.
- DVIR: At sign-on, the system reminds drivers to use the simple DVIR inspection checklist for quick and easy compliance and maintenance updates. Automating inspections and maintenance checks helps keep vehicles safer and on the road longer.
- IFTA: For vehicles covered by the IFTA agreement, fleet managers can track mileage and fuel purchases for instant and automated reporting.
Key Driver Advantages from Truck GPS Tracker Technology
GPS truck tracking systems are beneficial to drivers, too. Encouraging driver adoption is key to a successful system. Driver benefits include:
- Safety and Protection – Driving is one of the most dangerous jobs and fatigue plays a large role in motor vehicle accidents. Telematics systems help identify driver fatigue and can also help eliminate “he said, she said” incidents, protecting drivers against fraudulent insurance claims.
- Incentive Programs – Companies can use a GPS truck tracking system to provide driver incentives for safe driving. Implementing rewards and recognition programs by monitoring driver behavior and score carding driver performance.
- Workflow — Streamlined workflows, including digitized forms inspection automation, means drivers can spend more time doing what they do best: driving. GPS truck tracking systems help reduce wait times at delivery and pick-up locations via improved communication, automated processes, and digital signature captures.
What to look for in truck tracking software
Telematics systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes. From plug-and-play to bring your own device to professionally installed systems, here’s what to look for in truck tracking software:
- Simplicity: Simplicity is key to system adoption. Your truck tracking software should prioritize ease of use for in-cab devices and backend systems, including when it comes to reporting and analytics. One-click access to the information that matters most to your fleet can be world-changing.
- Real-time data: Making good business decisions means having the right information when you need it. With real-time vehicle information, including HD video footage, businesses can turn data into decisions. AI-powered analytics and machine learning helps businesses detect abnormal patterns, identifying your biggest points of impact.
- Mobility: Accessing data from anywhere is key to keeping a highly productive fleet moving. Mobile capabilities bring all the power of truck tracking systems into the palm of your hand. Access, sign, and manage important documents and get real-time insights from your mobile device.
GPS Truck Tracking
Most frequently asked questions
By integrating compliance features into driver applications, GPS truck tracking can keep DVIR and HOS inspection and timing records at the front of the driver's mind. It ensures that this is a daily habit rather than as an afterthought.
GPS fleet tracking devices use the government-provided GPS satellite signals to locate vehicle positions within three meters at most times. Modern GPS satellites are available for service in most areas of the country, though service may be briefly intermittent in rural areas and canyons, and during bad weather. Modern cellular data services provide broad coverage, but real-time information about truck position and operation may be briefly delayed when data service is unavailable. The information not transmitted in real-time is stored locally and will be updated from the vehicle as soon as data service is available.
GPS truck tracking systems improve driver safety by capturing driver behavior data and analyzing and alerting problems areas. When paired with AI and dashboard cameras, truck tracking software can be used for driver training and coaching. GPS tracking with AI also identifies flagrant safety issues, reducing the likelihood that drivers will risk speed, stop-sign and red-light violations, and more. In the cab, the system can identify problems such as a missing seat belt, and more advanced systems can identify sleepy driver situations and other developing safety issues.
Many companies are reporting significant fuel savings after implementing GPS truck tracking. In addition, reduced safety violations and improved accident defenses due to video recording result in significant cost reductions.
Other major points of ROI include:
- Fewer Safety Related Fines
- Increase Productivity
- Better Customer Retention
- More Backhauls
- Improved communication
- And more …
As GPS truck tracking use becomes universal, companies are identifying even more ways that ROI benefits from using this technology innovatively.
GPS truck tracking can build a competitive advantage by increasing operational efficiency allowing companies to bid more competitively for new contracts. It also helps to improve on-time delivery and provide customers with accurate ETA’s improving customer experience and the company’s reputation.
The features of GPS truck tracking help create a clear, accountable work environment for the driver, which most drivers find reassuring. Proper introduction of the GPS system to drivers is critical though. Open discussion throughout the workforce before the devices are installed helps significantly, and aids drivers in focusing on the advantages of the new system instead of reacting with suspicion and gossip. GPS tracking systems that offer identification of safe driving skills, as well as areas for improvement, provide the opportunity for a reward-based system and positive driver coaching techniques.
Paper-based systems create more work for fleet owners. Most paper-based processes can be digitized and/or automated with a GPS truck tracking system, including:
- Hours of Service
- Vehicle inspections
- IFTA fuel reporting
- Timecard and payroll
- Signature capture and proof of delivery
- And more
When work is picking up and you have many new hires to bring on board, GPS truck tracking systems can fill in as a ride-along coach to help drivers adjust to your routes and company standards. The system will identify risks and highlight situations the driver needs to be aware of; and recorded video of a driver’s trip is an invaluable resource for pointing out driver strengths and rewarding them.
With cloud-based software, a small business with a dozen trucks can operate smoothly.
Cloud based software makes the technology accessible to businesses of any size and mobility solutions enable managers to run their fleet from desktop, mobile or tablet.