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FMCSA Unveils New Safety Determination Process

01/26/2016 by Caroline Ailanthus

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has updated the process by which it determines whether a carrier is unfit to operate due to safety reasons. The new process makes much greater use of on-road safety inspection data and is also much simpler—a site inspection is no longer necessary and instead of the previous three-tiered system, carriers now are labeled either fit or unfit.

The objective is to make the system both more accurate and more efficient. Before the revision of the rule, which had been in effect since 1982, the vast majority of carriers were never even assessed. Only some 15,000 could be investigated annually and less than half of those actually received a safety rating. Under the new, more efficient system, FMCSA should be able to assess as many as 75,000 carriers per year. At the same time, the new process includes safeguards designed to protect carriers from being declared unfit lightly.

Still, the new rule is controversial. Industry groups point out that the new transportation funding bill, the FAST Act, actually contains language questioning the validity of roadside inspection data. Some of the criteria FMSCA uses to evaluate a carrier’s fitness have actually not been conclusively linked to an increased risk of crashing. There are concerns also that the new process might disproportionately target smaller carriers.

What is not controversial is that the industry as a whole needs to continue to improve its safety. Many carriers are looking to GPS fleet management providers to help their business stay both safe and compliant.

FMCSA still uses BASIC scores in its safety evaluations—a list of seven criteria, including safe driving, hours of service, and vehicle maintenance. A fleet manager needs to have access to data on all the same criteria in order to make sure his or her operation is compliant. With a GPS fleet management system, that data is within easy reach.

Teletrac offers a Safety Analytics feature that makes it easy to discern which drivers work safely and which do not. User-friendly dashboards make accessing the information smooth and it’s possible to drill down to specific incidents so managers can discuss problems with individual drivers directly. The Hours-of-Service (HOS) solution automatically tracks when the vehicle is in motion and when it is not, eliminating the possibility of both human error and fraud and ensuring that drivers do not work over their allotted hours each day. And electronic driver vehicle inspection records and maintenance reporting mean that routine maintenance is never accidentally skipped and any mechanical problems are quickly flagged for repair before they can cause a problem.

With help from a GPS fleet management system, completing federal inspections can be more efficient and simple.

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Innovating ELD Technology at Teletrac

01/24/2016 by Sarah Barbod

Before government reports arose about federally mandated electronic logs that would track driver hours, engineers at Teletrac were ahead of the game. With the leadership of Chief Engineer, Darwin Thompson, Teletrac has been at the cutting edge of technology for the past quarter century. Here, Darwin shares his 25 years of experience developing HOS solutions with trucking carriers and safety compliance officers at Teletrac.

How did the concept of electronic logging devices (ELDs) arise?

We originally gave our customers the service of a timecard scenario in the late 1990’s. This allowed fleet managers to clearly identify when their drivers were on-duty and driving, when they were off-duty, some early reporting features that would allow them to do supervisory things, and the ability to send canned message statuses. It had nothing to do with any kind of mandate or regulation from the government. It was just a simple service given to our customers to help them monitor their drivers.

If I remember correctly, around the year 2000, our customers started calling and inquiring about an electronic display with a grid. So we developed a product that offered these features and allowed the driver to change his statues to show that he was driving and not driving. It was primitive in the sense that we weren’t really collecting logs and bringing them back to the vehicle. But we were showing what the driver had collected in real-time as he was collecting it.

So when the government passed legislation stating that the electronic collection of these logs and display was a viable replacement for paper logs, we were already poised to do this electronically and build upon the product we had.

Was Teletrac the only GPS fleet management provider offering an electronic log solution?

Back then, we were amongst the leaders in bringing an electronic system out for commercial use, along with Qualcomm and Xata who were creating similar products.

To what extent did Teletrac develop its HOS solution with the Department of Transportation?

We collaborated with the DOT and FMCSA both directly and indirectly. Around 2003, we started working with Ryder to provide their drivers with an electronic log system. I worked with Ryder’s safety compliance officer who was heavily involved with the FMCSA to identify what product would best suit their needs and at the same time internally what would be good for our core product. Overtime, we have worked with many industry consultants and a litigator from Washington D.C. to lay down the foundation of our product.

What kind of relationship did Teletrac have with the FMCSA during product development?

The FMCSA was actually using our product in the United States—Mexico cross-border, long-haul trucking pilot program back in 2011. Part of their decision making for the law was built around products they were using, which included our product.   

Around the same time the 395.16 rules came out in 2011*. The description of the device in the mandate looked almost identical to our product in many respects such as automatic switching, how to do it, and so forth.

Was 395.16 widely accepted in the industry?

No, not at all. After it was published, responses from the industry were saying drivers were being unfairly treated, and changes needed to be made. So the rules were essentially put on hold until the ELD ruling that just recently took place in December 2015.

During this time, how did your team of engineers cope with the pause in regulation?

Regardless of timeframe and pauses in laws, we developed Teletrac’s ELD product in what we call “the spirit of the law.” What I mean is the whole intent of the ELD law is driver safety. You don’t want a driver with a multi-ton vehicle falling asleep at the wheel, or getting into an impaired judgement kind of situation because of lack of rest. In many cases, the laws were written with the intent of what will keep the driver in the safest state of mind while following these laws. So, most of our product development has always erred on the side of safety, the side of the spirit of the law, rather than on the side of benefitting carriers that push drivers to work extra hours. And a lot of our customer’s safety officers also share this same philosophy.  

***

From a simple timecard service, to a federally compliant electronic logging device, Teletrac has developed it all. With safety taking the helm of creation and ideation in our products, the spirit of any future laws will be a welcoming endeavor to conquer.

*The Electronic On-Board Recording Devices regulation proposed paper logs could be replaced by an electronic logging system for drivers.

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How to Manage Driver Transition to ELDs

01/22/2016 by Caroline Ailanthus

The federal government’s Final Rule concerning electronic logging devices (ELDs) has stirred up the transportation industry. Questions regarding compliance have inspired a great deal of concern for carriers. The process of becoming compliant can seem daunting to carriers. Luckily, compliance can become a lot easier with the right ELD provider.

ELDs come at varying costs, and are all able to track driver hours of service (HOS). Some ELDs go above and beyond, tracking fuel use, unsafe driving patterns, vehicle usage. Carriers should first determine what they need from an ELD before selecting a provider.

Once a carrier has selected an ELD provider, the next step is getting drivers on board. This process is usually perceived as the most difficult part of the transition. While it is true that ELDs represent a large change in how drivers work, drivers are quick to realize the benefits ELDs provide. These benefits include less paperwork, more profitable routes, and more rest time. Carriers can use a variety of tactics to ensure the transition to ELDs is as smooth as possible.

Transitioning to ELDs starts with a thorough understanding of what ELDs are. ELDs are, first and foremost, electronic versions of the paper logs that carriers have been using for years. They automatically record all Hours of Service (HOS) information that drivers need to record to remain compliant. This automation makes several day-to-day tasks much easier. Inspections are faster and simpler because all logs are electronically accessible. ELDs are often bundled together with various telematics services that further simplify tasks – services such as two-way communication dispatch or navigation.

The Final Rule only recently became law on December 11, 2015, yet many carriers have already invested in ELDs. These devices reduce paper usage and dramatically simplify management by providing real-time information on which drivers are available for work and which are coming up on a break. Alerts provide drivers and managers with warnings to avoid HOS violations. Bundled features, such as vehicle tracking and maintenance updates, carry their unique advantages.

That’s one less thing to worry about and a lot more options for running a successful fleet.

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Moving FAST to Safety

01/15/2016 by Oswaldo Flories

At long last, America has long-term highway funding again—that is, money for everything from fixing and rebuilding roads and bridges, to public transportation, to safety. For years, the industry has been subsisting on short-term funding extensions, in part because of political issues relating to the gas tax. This past December, Congress finally resolved the impasse and passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which will provide funding for the next five years.

The FAST Act increases the total funding for transportation without increasing the gas tax by trimming the budgets of other Federal programs. The new law also streamlines, clarifies, or re-focuses existing transportation-related programs. Highlights include more funding for bridges, public buses, and safety programs and actions to encourage both private investment and the use of new technology.

Administrators of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) are understandably pleased with the Act overall. They do criticize some features. For example, while the FAST Act opens interstate commercial driving to young military veterans, other young drivers (those under 21 years old) are still barred from routes that cross state lines. The Act also does nothing to relieve confusion between Federal regulations and those states that have their own, different transportation regulations. But ATA still finds more to praise than to criticize in the new law.

The FAST Act reforms the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CSA program and opens the possibility of expanded drug testing. It earmarks funds for highway freight projects and does make it easier for young veterans to get into commercial driving. All of that is good news, in the view of the ATA.

The FAST Act is most notable for simply providing a much-needed stable source of funding, but the law does focus specifically on safety and favors new technology as a means of improving vehicle safety and reducing congestion. Of course, it doesn’t take a new law for individual carriers to adopt the latest technology to help their drivers stay compliant with regulations. GPS fleet management software with a Safety Analytics feature allow fleet managers to not only see where their vehicles are and what they’re doing, but also which drivers consistently perform according to the company’s safety standards. The system records incidents of unsafe driving behavior, such as speeding or running stop-signs, giving fleet managers the opportunity to reward high-performing drivers, or retrain and discipline drivers who violate safety policies. This way, businesses can monitor safety metrics across their entire fleet.

Is your fleet ready to adopt the FAST Act’s proposals and invest in vehicle safety technology?

*About the author: Oswaldo Flores is a member of Teletrac's marketing and product management team. He is an expert in the transportation and compliance sector for the United States and Mexico.   

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In Their Own Words: Grocery Supply Company

01/15/2016 by Parth Raval

The ELD Final Rule has upended the transportation industry. This federal requirement to use electronic logging devices in lieu of paper logs to track driver Hours of Service has raised questions for managers and drivers alike. One of the biggest concerns carriers have, aside from price, is how to manage the transition from paper logs to ELDs. Teletrac spoke with Don Owen, Transportation Manager at Grocery Supply Company about this matter. Grocery Supply Company is based in Sulphur Springs, Texas and maintains 54 trucks that deliver across the Midwest. Owen has been using ELDs for almost ten years and is well-versed in discussing ELDs with drivers.

You’ve been using ELDs for about ten years – before that, your drivers used paper logs. How did you introduce ELDs to your drivers?

We discussed ELDs in our safety meetings. We made sure the drivers knew that this was going to be a benefit to them. ELDs were going to make their jobs easier from a paperwork standpoint; they wouldn’t have to worry about miscalculating their hours. They would be able to get home more often and get more rest. And we would be able to tell customers when deliveries would be made with greater accuracy.

Did drivers offer any points of resistance to ELDs when the devices were first introduced?

There are always a few who think ELDs are Big Brother looking over their shoulder. But we explained to them how we would be using the devices. We would use them to make sure drivers would be able to take their breaks without having to bump up their hours of service.  We would also use them to create routes that could be done legally and would generate greater profit for the company.

Can you explain the profit angle?

With ELDs, we’re able to look at the queue of deliveries we need to make and the Hours of Service status of our drivers. We’re able to move stops around based when customers want their deliveries and which drivers can make those stops. We can time our schedules better to get as many stops done without violating the Hours of Service. From a logistics standpoint, we can create a route that is efficient and can be done legally by any driver we have.

How has this changed how drivers work?

It’s improved day-to-day work. I can tell you, when I was a driver, I hated doing paper logs. I delivered to restaurants and you might to deliver to three or four places right in a row and never even touch your log. And when you’re ready to drive somewhere, you have to catch yourself up. The ELDs do all that recording for you. Once a driver goes on the ELD and they get used to it, they prefer using the computer over the paper logs. The ELD lets them drive and get the truck unloaded and focus on their job.

So to make the transition to ELDs as easy as possible, carriers should focus on the drivers?

Absolutely. And listen to what the drivers say. Let the drivers voice their opinions. And make it clear that this how the industry is going and every trucking company is moving in this direction. ELDs are here to stay.

***

Owen is absolutely right. ELDs are here to stay and they are a great opportunity to improve business operations. They change how drivers and managers work – that’s why it’s essential to get all parties on the same page when introducing ELDs to a company. If the transition period is handled successfully, ELDs can be the best thing to happen to a business.

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The New Year Brings Regulatory Change

01/11/2016 by Caroline Ailanthus

The trucking industry got a New Years’ present. As of January 1, 2016, only 25 percent of commercial drivers will have to be called for random drug tests every year, as opposed to 50 percent. That means there will be a significant reduction in expense and regulatory burdens for motor carriers as well as a relief for drivers themselves. However, if some carriers choose to continue testing at a rate higher than 25 percent, they are welcome to maintain that practice.

There is no change in actual drug policy. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is only changing the rate of annual random controlled substances testing percentage because the industry as a whole has maintained a drug policy violation rate (as shown by the number of positive tests) of less than 1.0 percent for three consecutive years. According to federal regulations, the agency could have made the shift last year, but chose not to, citing a need for additional information. If the violation rate comes back up to 1.0 percent or higher, FMCSA will raise the number of random drug tests back up to 50 percent of commercial driver positions.

Essentially, the industry is being given more freedom to govern its own drug policy compliance, provided it continues to do a good job. If some carriers do not maintain compliance, then every carrier will experience the consequences by having to endure more drug tests. Perhaps for this reason, individual carriers are at liberty to test more often than regulations require.

The shift comes as many question whether we’re about to see a spike in positive tests, given that many drivers now live in states where marijuana is legal at least under some recreational and medical circumstances. Because Federal law still lists marijuana as a controlled substance, and because the trucking industry is regulated at the federal level, commercial drivers are still prohibited from using marijuana, no matter what state law says.

It is worth noting that drug tests do not actually determine whether a driver is impaired at the time of testing, the way in which tests for alcohol prove. Instead, drug tests show whether the driver has used any of a list of substances within the previous days or even weeks. Alcohol is relatively easy to test for because both blood alcohol content and degree of muscular incoordination correlate well with the degree of mental impairment. No such correlation has been established for other drugs. As a result, regulators use testing to establish whether a driver has a lifestyle that includes prohibited substances, even if they never drive impaired.

To learn how random drug testing can benefit fleet management and boost productivity, click here

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The Central Piece of the Transportation Puzzle

01/08/2016 by Parth Raval

Private fleets are one of the most important pieces of the American transportation puzzle. They are the largest sector of the domestic trucking market, worth approximately $320 billion (Logistics Management). Private fleets transport a nearly endless variety of products, from roofing supplies to groceries to chairs, but they have one thing in common – they are owned by a company whose primary business is not transportation. Private fleets work to move their company’s products from point A to point B. Generally speaking, businesses manage a private fleet for three reasons: improved customer service, control of capacity and completion of company goals.

Customer service is crucial to private fleets. Their companies engage with the public in a capacity that goes outside transportation – Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, and Kellogg all have private fleets that transport their goods around the country. Private fleet drivers are generally more experienced and better compensated than general transportation drivers because they are an extension of a larger brand. In fact, many companies cite improved customer service as the top benefit of a private fleet (Inbound Logistics).

Since they are part of a larger company, private fleets can also be used to meet specific company goals. Private fleets operate on different financial models, based on the needs of the company (National Private Fleet Council). They can also be used to help close gaps in the business, including increasing revenue and reducing churn. Mostly importantly, a company with a private fleet has complete control over capacity. They are able to precisely calculate how much product they are able to transport because they manage transportation in-house.

Lastly, private fleets differ for the importance they place on culture. Private fleet drivers are usually made to feel like part of the company for which they work, and stay with one carrier for longer than the nationwide average (Trucking Info). (With company branding prominent on their vehicles, they essentially drive billboards down the highway.

Because private fleets are critical to their company’s operations, maintenance of the fleet should be a company’s top priority. Telematics software that is designed for private fleets, including electronic logging devices, can help managers spot inefficiencies and turn their fleets into a well-tuned machine. It can be the difference between clearing the company’s goals for the year and starting from scratch on January 1.

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The Development of ELDs at Teletrac

01/08/2016 by Sarah Barbod

The long awaited Final Rule concerning electronic logging devices (ELDs) was passed less than one month ago. News of the upcoming rule had been circulating for years.

Originally, when the Department of Transportation (DOT) released proposals of ELDs installed in-vehicle as an industry mandate, and commercial motor vehicles would move away from paper logs, Teletrac’s team of engineers began to create a solution to market to the industry.

Quality Assurance Test Engineer, Ken Strahan, was one of the early engineers on the team. Ken recalls the beginning of development nearly eight years ago when the team started with a blue monochrome device, known as an MDT, and used it for simple messaging. The process was basic, “We took the existing messaging device, programmed HOS (Hours-of-Service) into it, as well as gave it the ability to pass J-Bus data through the terminal because there was just one input on the device at the time,” explains Ken. This process allowed the original message display to be programmed with HOS. And over time, Teletrac’s electronic logging device evolved. From an early Windows OS4 mobile device with added memory and HOS features, to CTO tablets with expanded messaging displays, to the current Samsung 4 tablets.

Teletrac has passed through four generations of electronic logging devices, “our product is well vetted and we are among the original providers of an electronic HOS solution,” says Ken.

In collaboration with customers, including Ryder, Ken and Teletrac’s engineering team ensured the device they developed over time adapted to customer needs to meet HOS compliance, becoming an accurate and functional solution for fleet managers and drivers. “An ELD needs to be able to capture a driver’s daily activity in-vehicle, recording status changes, drive time, distance and location,” says Ken. “That information must be available and secure locally within the in-cab, [with] that data uploaded to a system for information availability at the [business’s] home-base. All this information has to be available as mandated by government requirements.”  Additionally, when drivers are out on the road, the device must be functional for their personal compliance, “the driver must be able to display their driver activity on the ELD to highway patrol or any other government authority, both in-cab and back at [the carrier] location,” adds Ken.

Over time, the DOT has made changes to the mandate. With deep experience in the field, Teletrac’s electronic logging device has adapted to the changes and grown to offer flexibility and improved compliance no matter the size of a business’s fleet. 

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2015 in Review

12/30/2015 by Parth Raval

From electronic logbooks to driver retention, 2015 was all about the men and women who sit behind the wheel. We’ve summed up some of this year’s most important issues in transportation. They represent the direction the industry is taking, one that embraces technology, safety and efficient to drive a more demanding economy.

Electronic Logging Devices

After many miles of red tape, speed bumps and false starts, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate finally passed both houses of Congress. This year’s requirement to record all hours of service (HOS) on electronic devices was undoubtedly the hottest topic of conversation in trucking. ELDs help fleets run more efficiently by helping companies understand the ramifications of running different routes. They also signal a change in culture for fleets still running paper logs – managers should ensure that drivers understand the benefits ELDs provide both the trucking and administrative sides of the business.

Truck Parking

Branching out of the ELD mandate is a constellation of changes in how fleet drivers work. One of the most pressing is truck parking. On paper logs, drivers could stretch their HOS while they look for a place to park and rest. ELDs eliminate the ability to stretch hours, requiring drivers and dispatchers to plan ahead for parking. Jason’s Law, passed in 2012, allocates $6 million to create more rest stops for truck drivers. While this is an important step in the right direction, there is still work to be done. The need for safe, easily accessible rest areas will be highlighted as more drivers are transitioned to ELDs.

The Economy Continues to Grow

In 2015, US consumers showed more confidence in the economy than in any other year since the end of the Great Recession (Hightower Agency). Consumer spending rose to 3.2% and layoffs were at the lowest level in decades (Marketwatch). While analysts project that the United States’ place as the world’s top economy will be challenged in the coming decades, there has been plenty of short-term progress to warrant optimism (U.S. News & World Report).

Driver Retention and Turnover

This improved economy is great news overall for the country but it does not solve the high driver turnover rate plaguing the transportation industry. There was some improvement – the 2015 driver turnover rate was 90%, down from 100% in 2014.  How companies address the ELD mandate will have a large effect on driver retention. If drivers are made aware of how ELDs improve their job performance, they will be inclined to remain with their carrier.  

Advances in Truck Technology

This year, self-driving vehicles moved further away from speculation and closer to reality. From Google’s Self-Driving Car Project to Daimler’s advances in self-driving trucks, the world of autonomous vehicles saw massive strides. Those who worried that drivers would be forced out of a job were reassured. Self-driving vehicles will require a driver with a commercial driver license sit behind the wheel. Fleets of commercial vehicles commanding the road are still years away, but jobs in transportation will increase because of them.

***

With a bevy of technology advances, transportation is one of the country’s most exciting industries. This year saw a fascinating meeting of old and new with the ELD mandate and self-driving vehicles. Change is inevitable – but change doesn’t have to mean culture is abandoned. Even as transportation figures out how to assimilate new platforms, it will keep the aspects that inspire the people who work in trucks, warehouses, and dispatch offices around the country.

Happy New Year!

 

 

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6 Films Where GPS Tracking Takes the Lead

12/23/2015 by Caroline Ailanthus

The holiday season is upon us and it’s a great time to relax and catch up on movies. And a surprising number of popular films incorporate GPS tracking, or a similar sci-fi version, in their storyline. Check out these six examples, and then see how many you can spot in your own movie-watching.

  1. In Bourne Ultimatum, amnesic hero Jason Bourne is unexpectedly called back into action when a reporter starts asking questions. Bourne uncovers new information about his past and must struggle to understand newly resurfaced memories while dodging assassins the whole time. In one particular scene, his friend, Nicky Parsons, gives one such assassin a new phone, which Bourne uses with the installed GPS system to track him down in an attempt to stop his next hit.
  2. The Matrix, a computer hacker named Neo discovers that the world he knows is actually a virtual reality program built to imprison human minds so intelligent machines can feed off the energy of their sleeping bodies. When Neo and his fellow rebels re-enter the Matrix program to fight back, they find the machines attack. To escape, the protagonists need to find the nearest landline, so a colleague on the outside gives them turn-by-turn directions by cell phone, helping (almost) everyone in the scene to survive and fight again. While it’s not clear what technology they’re using, a similar feat in the real world would require some kind of GPS solution.
  3. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the orphan boy-wizard, Harry, spends his third year at the school for magic with his friends—and copes with murderous dark wizards, unexpected plot twists, an escaped felon, and a werewolf. Harry and his friends have a few tricks up their sleeves, of course, including a magical map of the school that shows the movements of the other characters in real-time. It proved to be very helpful when trying to avoid evil characters. The closest we can get to the Marauders’ Map in the Muggle world is something like a GPS fleet management tool, where you can watch the movements of each vehicle in real time on a screen.
  4. With The Dark Knight, Batman teams up with local law enforcement authorities to rid Gotham City of crime, only to see a new criminal mastermind gain control, the frighteningly crazy Joker. As the Joker plays various sadistic games with the citizens of Gotham, Batman and his colleagues track him by using an unexplained technology to convert cell phones into a city-wide tracking surveillance system. Presumably the system in some way takes advantage of the phones’ GPS locators.
  5. DC lawyer, Robert Dean, is unwittingly pulled into a high-stakes game of plots and counterplots when key evidence in a politically motivated murder is planted on him, in Enemy of the State. High-tech surveillance is a recurring theme—at one point Dean is unaware he is carrying five different tracking devices. In real life, hidden GPS trackers are used by law enforcement and fleet managers to recover stolen vehicles and cargo.
  6. The name of GPS, the Movie, says it all. A group of friends join a light-hearted contest, expecting to use their GPS devices and map-reading skills to find buried treasure. Instead they find what could be clues to a kidnapping, including more GPS coordinates. Can they find and rescue the kidnapping victim before it’s too late? Is the victim even real? Or is the whole thing still part of the game?

In some of those movies, the characters use magic or other means, not GPS devices. But, again and again, movies show us characters who can discover, at a distance, where other people and objects are located, and track them in real-time. This curious ability has become such an important part of our collective life of imagination and demonstrates how dominant GPS technology has become. 

Did we miss a movie that incorporates GPS tracking? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.

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The Next 20 Years for Compliance

12/21/2015 by Parth Raval

Earlier this month, the federal government passed the long-awaited Final Rule concerning electronic logging devices (ELDs). This rule has been a point of discussion for years and its enforcement marks a watershed moment in transportation. As carriers look for the right ELD system for their business, an important question hovers in the background – what comes next?

The ELD mandate represents the important role technology plays in transportation. Today’s trucks are outfitted with aerodynamic frames, sophisticated braking systems, and now with electronic logs that record driver hours and predict safety behavior. The trend is clear; transportation will harness developments in diverse technological fields to best serve drivers, vehicles and customers. Today, that means ELDs. In 20 years’ time, that could mean self-driving vehicles, a possibility that already has the industry’s attention. Self-driving vehicles will come with a host of laws, regulations, and policies that carriers will have to understand. The compliance system that will come with self-driving vehicles will need to address remote operator fatigue, vehicle refueling, and maintenance. The California Department of Motor Vehicles has already proposed regulations for self-driving vehicles, including a provision that a licensed driver must ride at the wheel. As much as technology advances, it also cycles back on itself – ELDs are an adaptation of traditional paper logs. Self-driving compliance will likely incorporate many aspects of ELDs.

No matter what the future holds for compliance laws and technology, telematics will remain an important piece of the puzzle. Telematics used in tandem with an ELD creates a full picture of a fleet’s operations. Telematics will be crucial with self-driving fleets. These platforms will give carriers control over their vehicles as they operate themselves on the road, both with and without the help of a human passenger. Just as telematics providers have been able to accommodate the need for advances in driver log technology, they will be able to provide systems that help self-driving fleets remain compliant. 

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'Tis the Season for GPS Fleet Tracking Software

12/18/2015 by Caroline Ailanthus

In the final weeks before Christmas, many Americans are busy shopping for presents, holiday decorations, and the fixings for feasts. More goods change hands over the holiday season than almost any other time during the year and, with apologies to Santa Claus, none of those items arrive in stores or on doorsteps by magic. December is one of the busiest months for the shipping industry, not just for the many home deliveries, but also for retailers and distribution centers. It’s important to stay on schedule as Christmas Eve looms and pressure for on time delivery increases.

Not surprisingly, long-haul and local delivery fleets alike do whatever they can to make sure every load and every package arrives on location and on time. Even some of the larger retailers are getting into the act--Amazon, for example, has bought its own fleet of trailers to simplify the loading process, though they still rely on their shipping partners to pick up and haul the trailers.

GPS fleet tracking contributes to the holiday effort in all the expected ways—making sure new drivers do not get lost, helping fleet managers identify and reward their best drivers (or poor performing drivers who need additional training), and providing a kind of safety net in case of accident or theft. But the technology also has a special role to play given the importance of timing during this season, especially if the system includes advanced features, such as Teletrac’s Delivery Performance by Vehicle Report, which includes notifications designed specifically to meet the needs of local delivery fleets.

For a local delivery fleet, knowing exactly where each truck is, in real time, means that last-minute pick-ups and deliveries can be made efficiently, with the extra assignments going to those drivers who are already in the right area. New drivers and new routes can be worked into the pattern, without the risk of duplicating or neglecting part of the territory. When customers call and ask the status of a package, the fleet manager can provide a specific answer, including accurate estimates of arrival time. And since the system records exactly when deliveries are made, claims are easier to investigate, which provides an additional protection feature for drivers.

For businesses, the holiday season is all about competition. And those companies that can deliver their cargo on time, un-damaged, and communicate clearly with customers, will be able to stay ahead of the competition. And GPS fleet tracking software can help keep fleets ahead of the game. 

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