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Vehicle tracking is an all too common phrase. Since it first surfaced in the late 20th century, businesses have been flocking to understand it and use it to protect their mobile assets. Although it’s often associated with monitoring vehicle locations, it’s actually more advanced in the way it can optimise any operation. Here are five things you might not know about vehicle tracking:

Accuracy of GPS technology

Vehicle tracking combines global positioning system (GPS) data, hardware, and software to actively deliver precise locations for multiple assets in real-time. But how accurate is the data? GPS technology uses a number of factors, such as satellite geometry, signal blockage, atmospheric conditions, and the quality and design of the receivers it uses to communicate the information. The better vehicle tracking solutions provide ruggedised GPS receivers (also known as vehicle location units) to accept continuous radio frequency signals transmitted by GPS satellites in orbit. This provides geolocation data and timestamps based on coordinated universal time (UTC) with every ping for each vehicle point. GPS technology uses cellular networks to share the data collected, which then updates on a digital map you can view using vehicle tracking software on a laptop or mobile device from any location, giving you a precise account of your vehicle positions on one interface.

Image depicting how vehicle tracking works

It isn't just for pinpointing locations

Using vehicle tracking solutions to pinpoint frequently visited spots and landmarks on a map is great, but it can do much more for your business. Use it to route your vehicles to jobs or headquarters in case of emergencies or to dispatch vehicles closest to key sites or customers for last-minute jobs. You can also track driving behaviour and patterns through safety analytics and use that data to coach your drivers. The right vehicle tracking system can scale with your growing needs and make fleet management anything you need it to be.

Dashcam footage integrations

Some dashboard cameras include a feature that is especially useful in commercial vehicle fleets:  they can manage the data to preserve certain events. These cameras continuously record and overwrite files – but if the vehicle is subjected to an impact, sudden braking or other incident, the device automatically uploads (transfers and saves) the recording segment that began a few seconds prior to the event and ended another few seconds following it. This way, the dashboard camera captures a video record of the collision or similar occurrence, and through Driver Safety Analytics by Teletrac Navman, this can also feed directly into DIRECTOR via integration.

Customised mapping with geofencing

The more robust and scalable vehicle tracking solutions include digital maps that allow you to add geofencing to your operations. Geofencing uses GPS technology and vehicle tracking software to create virtual geographical boundaries around locations on a map, triggering alerts you can set for when a vehicle moves in and out of an area in real-time.

Additional features include the ability to note vehicle activity other than engine use, such as hydraulic functions on a tow truck or fuel pumps. For example, if you have fuel tanker pumps that should only be turned on at a customer site or fuel depot, you can create alerts that generate each time there’s vehicle activity outside of those locations. This helps track after-hours activity and unauthorised vehicle use, increasing fleet security and safety.

Extend your vehicle replacement cycle

Another thing you may want to put on your list of things you now know about vehicle tracking is how it helps extend a fleet’s lifespan through maintenance and service tracking based on odometer readings and other features to limit overuse of your assets. Vehicle tracking systems help report a vehicle’s mileage and tell you when it needs service, such as tyre pressure checks or oil changes. Features such as calendaring tools let you set service intervals to plan ahead, ensuring even the smallest fix gets addressed. If there’s a recall, you can use vehicle tracking software to set alerts and inform your team too, so you know your vehicles are safe day in and day out.

Other noticeable features and benefits of vehicle tracking solutions include the reduced mileage you get through enhanced routing capabilities and effective vehicle rotation. You can easily dispatch vehicles closest to customer jobs or key locations from any place on the map, preventing overuse or underuse of specific vehicles in your fleet. Lastly, vehicle tracking systems let you monitor your team’s driving and teach good habits the help reduce unnecessary wear and tear from things like harsh braking or sharp turning, enforcing safety and awareness and boosting the longevity of your business.

Heather Waters is a Digital and Content Marketing Executive at Teletrac Navman.

Heather Waters is an innovative and driven digital content marketer with a degree from Manchester Metropolitan University emphasis on Film and TV.