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February 06, 2018

GPS navigation plays a critical role in most fleets, enabling drivers to more efficiently get from Point A to Point B so that deliveries are on time. But in larger fleets with multiple vehicles, GPS alone doesn’t give fleet managers the “big picture” when it comes to where their drivers are and what they are doing.

Navigation from TelematicsTelematics takes basic navigation technology to the next level, providing fleet managers with the information they need to improve the efficiency of the entire fleet. Not only can navigation from telematics help drivers plan their routes, it also helps your fleet save fuel and ongoing maintenance costs and improves overall productivity.

Is navigation from telematics right for your fleet and your company’s bottom line?

Telematics vs. GPS

Unlike GPS, which provides navigation for a single driver and vehicle, telematics devices gather and store information on all the vehicles in your fleet. This is ideal for tracking purposes and also enables the fleet to work better as a unit.

But the two technologies aren’t in competition with each other. GPS is the central technology of any modern telematics solution and is used to collect data about vehicles in your fleet in real time. This data can include location and engine status, personal or after-hours vehicle usage and general engine diagnostics, as well as a host of other metrics that can be used for training purposes to improve safety, efficiency and productivity.

The telematics device itself can be loaded onto a mobile device or part of a vehicle’s onboard diagnostic port. Some telematics solutions come standard from the vehicle’s original manufacturer and are permanently affixed.

Your telematics solution often includes a navigation element that has been specifically designed for your fleet and compiles data from all of your commercial drivers. That collected data is then sent —  typically through the cellular network — to a central datacenter where it can be accessed by any computer or device through an internet connection.

This collaboration offers drivers and fleet managers more than just navigation. Drivers can use this information to access the best route based on their truck’s weight and load, for example, or access real-time updates on road and weather conditions.

Benefits of Fleet Telematics

For passenger cars, OnStar, which launched over 20 years ago, was one of the first telematics solutions in the market. The solution provides drivers with navigation, as well as in-vehicle security, hands-free calling, remote diagnostics and emergency services.

Later this year, Mercedes-Benz is launching its own Car-to-X technology, which will enables multiple vehicles to communicate with one another without driver input. This technology will alert drivers of upcoming traffic and road conditions so that they can adjust their route or driving behavior to avoid crashes.

For commercial fleets, telematics are completely changing the way fleets are managed, providing fleet managers with valuable information they can use to improve overall driver safety, training and productivity. These solutions can track all kinds of data in real time, including driver acceleration and braking patterns, maintenance schedules and automatic collision notification.

Armed with data collected from a telematics solution, managers can identify ways to improve efficiency by analyzing how many miles drivers are logging, how long they sit idle, and even specific driver performance and behaviors that can be modified to ultimately save on fuel and maintenance costs.

Productivity can be improved by using collected data to map better and more fuel-efficient routes with less traffic, and reassigning vehicles to reduce downtimes and response times to ultimately improve customer service.

Telematics and Improved Driver Safety

By monitoring individual driving habits, overall driver safety can also be improved.

Telematics enables fleet managers to monitor dangerous driving behaviors of individual drivers and identify which drivers may need additional training. For example, managers can use the collected data to identify those drivers who regularly drive 10 mph over the speed limit, forget to buckle their seatbelts, accelerate too quickly or excessively use their brakes.

Telematics enables fleet managers to see a complete profile of all of their drivers, including past driving records and current driving habits. Not only does this data make it easy to identify which drivers need more training, but it can also be used to show insurers your fleet’s safe driving history, which can ultimately lead to lower premiums.

The telematics device can also capture a vehicle’s last 30 seconds of dynamics in the case of a crash so that the cause can be investigated.

Smith System’s Smith 360™ Driver Management Program combines onboard diagnostics with GPS, providing fleet managers with monitoring, analysis, reporting, intervention and training. Smith360 tracks your fleet while also monitoring driver behavior and is the only telematics program directly tied to driver safety training.

To learn more about how telematics combined with behind-the-wheel driver training can provide you with a deeper understanding of your fleet, contact the Smith System team of experts today.

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