There are more than 400,000 commercial fleets that use at least five vehicles operating across America. In fact, the largest commercial fleets in America are made up of tens of thousands of vehicles. These play an essential role in helping companies deliver their goods around the country or in transporting clients.
No matter what you use your fleet for, keeping track of it is essential for your business. But with more than 286 millioncars on the road in America, how can you easily keep an eye on yours?
This is where GPS tracking can help! If you run a business that has its own commercial fleet then using a tracking system is absolutely essential.
So what do GPS tracking systems do and why are they so important? Read on to find out more now.
What is GPS Tracking?
You might be familiar with the term GPS. This stands for global positioning system and is something people around the world use on a daily basis to find their way from A to B.
For example, the Google maps application on your phone or on your computer uses GPS to map a journey route. In order to do this, it must identify your exact current location before providing information on how to reach your destination. If you choose to follow a route, this will update as you move because GPS is able to track and update your location.
This works whether you are traveling on foot or in a vehicle. So it is possible to track the movements of a vehicle in real-time, provided that the vehicle is fitted with a GPS tracker for the car, van, or truck.
A tracking system will receive this data from the tracking device and can record it. This means that it is possible to review the journey that each individual vehicle in your fleet has made. So how does this work?
How Do Fleet GPS Tracking Systems Work?
There are three main components to a GPS tracking system, one of which is already in place for you. All tracking systems use the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). This relies on a series of satellites that are placed in orbit around the world, which include:
- America's Global Positioning System Satellites
- Russia's GLONASS constellation
- Europe's Galileo constellation
- China's BeiDou constellation
Although each of these systems is run by a different country they are all regulated by the International Civil Aviation Organization's Standards and Practices. This ensures that they are all being used safely and that they are all maintained properly.
Each individual GPS tracking device sends information to these satellites around the world using radio signals and 4G networks. They then receive this information and send it on to the tracking software. This might be in your office, on your phone, or stored in a cloud.
This might sound like a big journey for tiny pieces of information to make, however, it only takes one-fifteenth of a second for the signal to reach the earth's surface. So your satellites can update tracking information in almost exact real-time.
What Can You Use as GPS Tracking Devices?
There are a number of different vehicle tracking devices that you can use to keep an eye on your vehicles. This includes:
- Plug-in GPS trackers
- Long-term Asset Trackers (ATLTs)
- Mini GPS trackers
- Dash cameras with GPS tracking
- Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)
Each of these devices plugs into your vehicles. Once they have been turned on and activated they will start transmitting to satellite systems around the world. The type of device that will work best for you often depends on the size of your fleet and the type of your work (more on this later.)
However, each of these devices can make a big difference to your business. Let's take a closer look at some of the benefits of using GPS tracking devices throughout your fleet.
GPS Tracking Systems Reduce Fuel Costs
As a fleet-based company, one of your biggest sources of expenditure will be your fuel costs. After all, these will seem fairly unavoidable. However, tracking your miles and fuel efficiency can make a big difference.
Idling, in particular, can make a huge difference to your fuel use. This happens when your vehicle is stationary but the engine is on. During 60 minutes idling a vehicle can burn through an entire gallon of gas.
GPS tracking allows you to monitor which vehicles have been idle for the longest. You can even create idling alerts to remind drivers to turn off their engines or to move off if they have been idling for too long.
Knowing where each of your vehicles is at a given time also means that you can dispatch your drivers efficiently. For example, if a new job comes up you can send one of the drivers who is nearest to it. This means that you reduce your fuel usage significantly, in comparison to sending a driver out from your base.
Asset Tracking Devices Improve Overall Fleet Performance
Speaking of driver dispatching, GPS tracking helps you to plan all of your fleet logistics better than ever before. You can use the software to:
- Coordinate drop-offs with the nearest drivers
- Generate routes based on real-time traffic updates
- Identify when each driver started and finished work that day
- Automate any maintenance schedules to ensure that all of your vehicles are serviced on time
This all means that the day-to-day running of your business will be easier than ever before. Streamlining each of these tasks means that you'll have more time to grow and develop your business strategy in other areas. What's not to like?
They Increase Driver (and Passenger) Safety
Looking after your drivers while they're on the road is absolutely essential. This keeps your drivers happy and - from a legal perspective - minimizes your risk of facing workplace lawsuits.
Tracking your drivers means that you can keep an eye on where they are at all times. This allows you to monitor any unsafe driving conditions, such as:
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Braking too harshly
- Accelerating too quickly
- Using an unauthorized vehicle or a vehicle outside of working hours
- Disobeying rules of the road (such as driving through no-drive zones)
From this, you will be able to generate a safety report card for each of your drivers. That way you can grade their performance and speak to individuals privately whose driving needs improvement.
If you receive real-time alerts about driving safety issues then you can also contact drivers directly. This means that you can nip the problem in the bud as quickly as possible.
Of course, your drivers' behavior on the road isn't the only danger to them. If they run into difficulty or break-down, tracking their location makes it much easier to get help to them quickly.
You can get in touch with a roadside assistance company and pass this information onto them. If you are unable to get in touch with a stationary driver then you can contact the emergency services and pass their location on. If something bad has happened then a fast response will make all the difference.
Tracking Helps You Communicate Easily With Clients
Knowing where your drivers are can also improve your relationships with each of your clients. This means that you can provide them with up-to-date information on the location of your services.
For example, if you run a taxi company you can provide accurate estimates on car arrival times to any customers who are waiting for them. Or if you provide a delivery service, you can narrow down delivery windows for your customers by tracking their delivery van.
This can have a huge positive impact on the quality of customer service that you are able to provide. So it will help to nurture and bring in new clients to your business.
Tracking Devices Reduce the Risk of Thefts
Of course, with a fleet-based business, each vehicle is an extremely valuable asset. Regardless of your fleet size, you cannot afford to lose this valuable piece of equipment or the work that it is scheduled to perform that day.
Unfortunately, cars and other vehicles are often the targets for criminals around America. Whether it's to use themselves or to sell on for parts, a stolen car offers would-be thieves plenty of lucrative possibilities. So protecting your car properly is essential.
Having a tracking device in your car means that if it is stolen it won't take long to find it. However, they can also act as a deterrent for thieves. After all, someone won't want to risk being caught with your car or the car being found their fingerprints in it.
Because of this, if you do install tracking devices in your car, it is worth making these visible or having a safety sticker about them on the back of your vehicles. That way would-be thieves will look elsewhere.
An Asset Tracker Can Reduce Your Insurance Costs
Of course, improving your car's security can have a huge impact on the cost of your insurance. After all, a car with better security is less likely to get stolen. This is why parking your fleet in a secure garage will also reduce your insurance costs.
However, a lot of GPS tracking software offers special features that also help to keep your car running smoothly. This reduces its chances of breaking down suddenly or being involved in a crash.
For example, monitoring your drivers' behavior on the road improves safety and reduces the chances of them causing an accident. As a result, insurance companies will look more favorably on your business. So your insurance premiums should be cheaper.
For the same reasons, this can also help to reduce the workplace insurance and liability premiums that you as a boss have to pay on a regular basis. So it's worth making the investment.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you should use a fleet tracking system. However, if yours is going to work as well as possible, you need to choose the right tracking system for you. In that case, there are plenty of things you need to consider — read on to find out everything you should think about when looking for a vehicle tracking system.
What Sort of Software Do You Need?
Basic GPS tracking will help you to keep track of your vehicles in real-time on the road. However, as we have already mentioned, some tracking systems offer more complex features that allow you to do things like:
- Evaluating routes
- Recording driver safety
- Providing diagnostic information about vehicle usage
This can require more complex hardware but it also means that you'll need software that can handle the data it is receiving. This software helps to organize the data that it receives properly so that you can actually use it to make informed business decisions.
Of course, you need to think about some of the features that your company wants or needs from its tracking systems. However, there are some more general things that you should keep in mind when searching for a high-quality system.
Here are a few of the key features it's worth looking out for when searching for a quality GPS tracking system.
No, this doesn't mean that it can double as a map for your drivers (although that would be useful too!) When we talk about easy navigation we're actually referring to how accessible your GPS tracker is.
Nowadays there are loads of different tracking systems available on the market. In fact, the market in the US is currently worth more than $17 billion. However, some of these offer extremely advanced software that is difficult to use.
What you really want is a tracking system that offers you a fairly simple dashboard that you can find your way around easily. This means that anyone who needs to use it regularly can. It will also make it much quicker to familiarize any new employees with the system itself.
The majority of people in the United States have a cellphone and 85% of the population have a smartphone. This means that mobile access has never been easier or more important than before.
Having a fleet tracking system that offers mobile access means that your employees will be able to use it easily from wherever they are. In that case, you need to ensure that your mobile tracking apps:
- Provide full access to the fundamental features of your tracking software
- Have proper mobile usage support so that they run smoothly
- Are cloud-based for speedy access
Asset tracking devices that can offer all of these things will deliver a high-quality mobile experience to all their users.
Alert systems are an essential safety feature that all GPS tracking systems should offer. These systems provide real-time monitoring of your vehicles on the road and will immediately report back any issues that they detect.
This includes problems such as:
- A vehicle speeding on the road
- Unsafe driving behavior, such as swerving or driving through no-drive zones
- A vehicle being stationary for a long time without reason
- A vehicle breaking down
- Crash reports along the route that your drivers are on
- Traffic warnings
- Maintenance issues with any vehicles
These alerts can be sent via text message or email to a representative at your company. This means that you can get in touch with the drivers directly (and safely) to discuss any issues.
Some GPS providers will also offer you the option of allowing them to monitor alerts for you so that they can help in emergencies. This can be helpful if you do not have a huge staff to monitor your GPS system. It is possible to get certain types of alerts encrypted so that only people working in your company can read them.
If this is of interest to you then it's worth discussing this with your GPS provider when you purchase your devices.
Excellent Customer Support
Software is brilliant and allows you to streamline a huge number of functions extremely quickly. However, if any issues do arise with it, it is important to have support on hand as soon as possible.
This is why you should look for a company that provides instant customer support 24/7. Ideally, this should be available over the phone or via email, or live chat. In some circumstances, chatbots can help you find the solutions that you need but you shouldn't have to rely on these.
So before you choose a provider, make sure you look into the quality of the customer support that they're offering.
Which Device Suits Your Needs the Best?
Deciding which device you need to use can be very challenging. After all, there are a lot of different devices on offer.
Looking at the size of your fleet and your budget can help you figure out what you need. However, it's also worth considering how much battery life you need. This will help you choose which tracking devices will work best for your vehicles.
For example, long-term asset trackers are ideal for big vehicles and trailers that often go on long journeys. These have fewer opportunities to stop so you need a tracker that will last.
These trackers offer a battery life of three years so you can install them and let them do their thing. Because of this, they also make for the perfect trailer tracking device.
If your fleet vehicles do smaller journeys and often come back into your base then you can afford to use trackers that need more frequent charging. In that case, it might be worth having a few tracking devices on standby to make sure that all of your in-use vehicles have a tracker whenever they need to go out.
Dashcams are also a great way of protecting your fleet's vehicles in case they are involved in an accident. This records footage from the dash of your vehicles so if they are involved in any collisions you have a record of what happened. This can also act as an incentive for your drivers to be careful while on the road.
If that sounds like something you might be interested in then you can kill two birds with one stone by installing fleet tracking dash cams.
What Sort of Budget Are You Working With?
Last but by no means least, you need to look at how much you can afford to spend on your tracking system.
Most GPS tracking systems are fairly affordable and should offer basic, quality features to all customers. If you are looking for something more complex then this will, understandably, cost you more. For example, more in-depth vehicle monitoring and analytics will be more expensive.
Certain devices are also more expensive than others. So if you have a large fleet of vehicles you may opt for a slightly cheaper device that allows you to monitor a larger number of vehicles.
If you are planning to splash out on a few more expensive devices, then it's a good idea to be strategic on how to use this. For example, it's worth asset tracking devices on very valuable vehicles that require 24/7 monitoring.
Once you know the budget that you're working with, a quality GPS provider will be happy to discuss your needs and their pricing to find how to get the best value for your money.
Find the Perfect GPS Tracking Software for Your Fleet Today
As you can see, if your company uses a fleet of cars then it is essential that you invest in a high-quality fleet tracking system. This will keep all of your drivers and passengers safe while on the road. It'll also improve productivity and minimize your fuel costs — so you should think of this as a valuable investment in your fleet.
So what are you waiting for? Check out our range of brilliant GPS tracking devices and systems now. We're happy to help you find exactly what you need for your fleet of vehicles.