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How are sensors used in telematics?

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

The implementation of telematics systems that use sensors to gather data provides fleets with unprecedented insight into the way their vehicles and drivers perform while at work



Sensors are integral to the way telematics works. Vehicles equipped with telematics sensors connected to fleet management software can provide fleet managers with finely detailed insights into how these vehicles are operated.

Sensors can record and capture data across a wide number of vehicle and driver performance indicators. These include fuel consumption and idling time, as well as detailed information on how drivers conduct themselves on the road. Thanks to data gathered by sensors, undesirable driver behaviours can be flagged up to managers and dealt with through driver training and education.


Q: What are the main benefits of sensor-based telematics?

A: The implementation of telematics systems that use sensors to gather data provides fleets with unprecedented insight into the way their vehicles and drivers perform while at work.

This enables fleet managers to determine whether there are inefficiencies or safety shortcomings that need to be addressed. As well as helping to drive up road safety standards, this can also help fleets deliver major improvements in profitability.

Sensor-based telematics can also assist with simplifying vehicle maintenance (thereby reducing the risk of downtime). Telematics can also provide fleet managers with notifications when certain vehicle maintenance tasks are overdue, improving the chances that mechanical problems are addressed before being allowed to develop into a major issue. Telematics sensors can also help to enhance fuel efficiency and vehicle security.

There are also other, industry-specific benefits to sensor-based telematics. These include, for example, sensors to measure the temperature in refrigerated trailers. This helps fleets to ensure that temperature-sensitive cargo (e.g. food deliveries) is being stored appropriately, and to take action to prevent spoilage.


Q: How can telematics sensors be used to improve road safety?

A: The data gathered by telematics sensors covers an extensive range of driver behaviours. These include tailgating, excessive speeding, rough cornering, harsh braking and aggressive acceleration. Without the presence of these sensors, it would be all but impossible to acquire such detailed data.



This information can then be used to develop driver training programmes tailored to the unique needs of individual drivers, increasing the impact of training programs. What’s more, this hard data also makes a particularly effective debriefing tool, providing unambiguous evidence as to where drivers have room for improvement. This empowers your team to work with drivers and create a culture that focusses on driver safety


Q: What do telematics sensors do to enhance fuel efficiency?

A: Driver behaviour is closely connected to fuel efficiency, so by encouraging better and more responsible driving, sensor-based telematics can also help to reduce unnecessary fuel usage. Aggressive accelerating and braking, for example, can burn up fuel and thereby decrease fuel efficiency.



Telematics sensors also track vehicle idling time, which can also increase fuel consumption and hence overall costs for fleets. Where these sensors help to identify such inefficiencies, they ensure that managers are better placed to take the appropriate action to remedy them.


Q: How does sensor-based telematics enable businesses to measure and optimise workflow?

A: Sensors monitor when particular vehicle activities take place. This might be something as simple as a door being opened, a pump being active, or a tail lift being operated. Knowing when these activities take place enables a fleet manager to understand their fleet workflow, and identify any inefficiencies as well as instances where standard work procedures are not being followed.

Examples of these might include:

  • A fuel tanker having its pump activated while not located at an approved site (this may be an indication either of theft or a potential safety hazard)
  • Measuring the amount of time between goods arriving on site and cargo doors being opened, and identifying how long drivers have been at their delivery location prior to the vehicle being unloaded (possibly indicating an opportunity to charge for lost time, or work with the customer concerned to improve unloading processes)

Detailed information about vehicle activities thus identifies potential problems and allows fleet managers to apply their own expertise in order to resolve them.


Q: What is seat belt monitoring?

A: Seat belt monitoring is a sensor-based telematics feature which provides businesses with a complete overview of driver seatbelt usage across their whole fleet. Drivers who fail to wear seat belts, and persistent offenders, can be identified to fleet managers through real-time alerts and scheduled reporting.

A poll carried out by Teletrac Navman found that 42% of respondents felt it was acceptable not to wear a seatbelt when frequently entering and exiting a cab, while 28% said the same for journeys undertaken over a short distance. This indicates that seat belt compliance remains a major issue for fleets.

Through seat belt monitoring, managers can instantly monitor seat belt usage across their fleet of vehicles, and take appropriate action where breaches occur. This is an important way of protecting the welfare of drivers at work – which is part of employers’ overall duty of care to their employees.


Q: How does sensor-based telematics make vehicles more secure?

A: Theft is one of the major and ongoing threats faced by fleet operators, while other unauthorised vehicle uses can also saddle fleets with unnecessary costs. Sensor-based telematics can help to enhance vehicle security by providing alerts when a vehicle leaves a certain area (for example, its base) at a certain time, through the use of geofencing.

Furthermore, the vehicle tracking capability of telematics systems also allows fleets to keep track of any individual vehicles which are subject to unauthorised uses. In the event that a vehicle has been stolen, this therefore makes it much easier and quicker to track down and, hopefully, retrieve in one piece.