The term "telematics," at least in trucking, is generally understood to mean use of electronic devices to collect and transmit data about commercial vehicles and drivers. This data can be used to improve safety, efficiency, and compliance. In a recent episode of the Trucksafe LIVE! podcast, we broke down that term, identified some of the most common types of telematics solutions, and discussed some of the benefits and pitfalls that fleets should consider when deciding whether to implement a particular telematics solution. Catch the replay below!
Telematics solutions have a lot to offer fleets who use them, including:
Improved safety: Telematics can help to improve safety by monitoring driver behavior and providing feedback to drivers. For example, telematics can be used to track driver speed, braking, and acceleration. This data can be used to identify drivers who are at risk of causing accidents.
Increased efficiency: Telematics can help to increase efficiency by tracking vehicle location and fuel usage. This data can be used to optimize routes and reduce fuel costs.
Reduced costs: Telematics can help to reduce costs by identifying areas where costs can be saved. For example, telematics can be used to identify drivers who are driving too fast or who are wasting fuel.
Improved compliance: Telematics can help to improve compliance by tracking driver hours of service and ensuring that vehicles are properly maintained.
To the last point, and as we discussed on the show, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has mandated the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in all commercial motor vehicles. This marks the first time the FMCSA has mandated the use of a particular type of telematics. ELDs use telematics technology to record drivers' duty status and help them comply with hours-of-service rules, which, in turn, helps to prevent driver fatigue and reduce the risk of accidents.
But ELDs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to telematics. Solutions exist to track vehicle location, fuel usage, tire pressure, maintenance, and driver behavior. This data can, in turn, be used to improve fleet efficiency, reduce costs, and improve safety.
Choosing the right solution for your fleet can be daunting. There are a number of factors to consider, including:
Fleet size: Telematics solutions are available for fleets of all sizes; however, the size of your fleet will likely dictate the type of solution that is right for you.
Budget: Telematics solutions can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
Features: Telematics solutions offer a variety of features. Some solutions offer basic features, such as tracking vehicle location. Other solutions offer more advanced features, such as driver behavior monitoring.
Support: Telematics solutions require regular maintenance and support. It is important to choose a solution that offers good customer support.
In addition to these factors, it's also critically important that you understand what data the solutions will be gathering. We've seen several instances where fleets implement a telematics solution and then become overwhelmed by the volume of data that is generated. Failing to effectively manage the data that is coming your way can spell trouble, particularly in highway-accident litigation. So it's imperative that you have a plan in place to manage the data that your selected system will be generating. We discussed this issue in greater detail on a previous episode of Trucksafe LIVE! Catch that episode below.
Additionally, depending on the solution you choose, you could very well get push back from your drivers. This is particularly true of inward-facing cameras. As Rob Carpenter, owner Carpenter Compliance, noted on our show, "It is important to get buy-in from your drivers before you implement a telematics solution. Drivers need to understand the benefits of telematics and how it can help them to be safer and more efficient."
In sum, telematics is a powerful tool that can help trucking fleets improve safety, efficiency, and compliance. By choosing the right solution and getting buy-in from your drivers, you can really maximize the benefits.
About Trucksafe Consulting, LLC: Trucksafe Consulting is a full-service DOT regulatory compliance consulting and training service. We help carriers develop, implement, and improve their safety programs, through personalized services, industry-leading training, and a library of educational content. Trucksafe also hosts a monthly live show on its various social media channels called Trucksafe LIVE! to discuss hot-button issues impacting highway transportation. Trucksafe is owned and operated by Brandon Wiseman and Jerad Childress, transportation attorneys who have assisted some of the nation’s leading fleets to develop and maintain cutting-edge safety programs. You can learn more about Trucksafe online at www.trucksafe.com and by following Trucksafe on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.