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What is vehicle tracking?

What is vehicle tracking?


Many people consider vehicle tracking to be an intrusive way for businesses to ‘spy’ on their staff. The reality, however, could not be further from the truth.

In a world that is now increasingly reliant on data, as businesses we are constantly looking to utilise innovative technology to speed up processes while reducing costs. In the same way that email revolutionised business communications in the early nineties, vehicle tracking is shaking up almost every aspect of the transport sector.

Vehicle tracking or ‘black box’ technology as it is more commonly known, consists of a device that is installed into a vehicle which collects data and then transmits this data via GPS/GPRS to provide business insights into driver locations, driving styles and underlying vehicle health issues. So, if vehicle tracking isn’t for spying on staff, why are businesses using it?

Fleets


Many companies, whether they own just four vehicles or 4000 vehicles, can benefit from telematics. Let’s use the haulage and logistics industry for example. It is vital that fleet managers are able to identify where their vehicles are at all times as customers rely on them to deliver their services as promised – efficiently, promptly and on schedule. By using vehicle tracking, fleet managers have access to in-depth overviews on the whereabouts of goods, whether they are on schedule and even information on tachograph information which is imperative to ensuring the fleet vehicles and drivers remain compliant with UK law.

Running a safe and compliant fleet will always remain a top priority for any fleet owner, therefore, it is crucial that risky behaviours that can lead to accidents can be avoided wherever possible. Besides locations, vehicle tracking devices allow fleet managers to monitor details such as vehicle speed, harsh acceleration, heavy braking and sharp cornering which undoubtedly increases the risk of a vehicle being involved in a collision. By monitoring driver behaviour, fleet managers can identify high-risk behaviours with a view to increasing safety on the road and in turn, reducing costs that surround damaged vehicles, compensation and insurance claims. Driver behaviour monitoring also has a huge impact on fuel costs. By driving within the speed limit and implementing smooth driving styles, fleets have experienced staggering fuel savings of up to 15%.

Although businesses can mitigate the risk of being involved in an accident, not all are preventable. When a fleet vehicle is involved in a crash, it causes major disruption to scheduled activities and can leave businesses without valuable assets for a long time. With vehicle tracking devices, fleet managers are notified when a vehicle has been involved in an accident as the installed dongle can sense impact severity. This allows contingency plans to be put in place almost immediately, and the emergency services are called if necessary.

Insurance


The insurance industry is most likely where you have heard about telematics or black box devices being used. In the last two years, the popularity of black box policies has boomed as consumers have realised the financial benefits of opting to share their driving data with their insurer.

Research from the British Insurance Brokers Association earlier this year suggested that the number of telematics policies in the UK increased by a staggering 40% between December 2014 and the 12 months previous.

Although the data used differs from one insurer to another, vehicle tracking devices supply information such as driver behaviour, speed and hours of use. This information can then be used to quantify the level of risk each driver poses when looking at how likely they are to claim. For good drivers, telematics policies are able to reduce annual insurance premiums by up to 25%. In addition to cutting insurance costs, safe driving can also reduce fuel costs by up to 15%.

Driver behaviour monitoring aside, the built-in accelerometer within a vehicle tracking device is able to identify when you are involved in a collision. The unit then automatically informs the insurer that there has been an accident along with details on the severity of the impact to the vehicle. Insurers are then able to make almost instant contact with the driver and emergency services if required. Policyholders can also benefit from a range of added extras including advanced warnings of problems that could cause breakdowns, MOT and service reminders, ‘find my car’ features when in a busy car park, and the ability to accurately record business and private mileage.

Automotive & Plant


The benefits of vehicle tracking are also being realised by manufacturers of vehicles and plant equipment. Manufacturers are using the diagnostic capabilities of telematics devices to provide their customers with accurate details of vehicle faults.

With the rise of connected vehicles, drivers and operators are notified when faults within the vehicle require attention. Most modern cars now flag up a warning light if there is an issue underneath the bonnet, however, this does not help to identify the issue specifically and usually requires paying a trained mechanic to run a diagnostic test before the problem can be resolved. Vehicle tracking devices are now able to pull data on specific engine faults and defect batteries from the vehicle. With advanced access to this kind of detailed information, drivers are able to avoid breakdowns and the costs incurred by them. Telematics enables vehicles to ‘ask’ when they require specific maintenance, for example, if AdBlue levels are low in diesel cars, drivers can now find out when a top-up is required through easy-to-use mobile apps. Plant operators are also able to view dormant faults before vehicles break down or power loss. By having advanced warning of underlying equipment issues, businesses are able to schedule required maintenance without affecting productivity or efficiency.

Plant theft currently costs the UK construction industry £800 million per year - this is why vehicle tracking for plant equipment has been designed with features which enable owners to draw a virtual geofence around their site or property. When a vehicle leaves a designated area or the ignition is switched on out of hours, owners receive a notification along with a live overview of its location. The benefits for preventing theft or tracking down stolen equipment, therefore, go without saying.

The evolution of telematics is revolutionising the way we use vehicle data and is enabling businesses to increase productivity, reduce costs and enhance road safety in ways never witnessed before. The continued development of vehicle tracking equipment undoubtedly provides much more to businesses than a method of intruding on staff privacy and is, in fact, serving the interests of staff safety, security and streamlining expenditure on fuel. From manufacturers to end users, there is a purpose suited to everyone.

Find out how you or your business could benefit from implementing vehicle tracking. Complete the form below or call us on +44 (0) 330 311 5157.

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