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Trending News and Stories in the World of GPS Fleet Tracking

Ride Or Die For The Passenger Transport Industry?

02/27/2015 by Shazia Haq

The days of traditional taxicab fleets may be on the wane.

The problem is the rise of ride share services, which use online apps to connect users to ordinary people willing to provide rides for a fee. Because these services do not employ or manage drivers, they are not regulated the same way cab companies are overseen. The lack of regulation gives ride sharing a competitive advantage over cabs, one that many cab drivers say is unfair.

Besides the issue of regulation, differences in the two types of business plans often give ride share drivers an advantage. For example, cab drivers typically lease their vehicles, meaning that they must charge fares high enough to cover their own fees. Ride share drivers use their own vehicles, which means they have to cover all vehicle-related costs themselves—but it also means that if driving is a sideline, the car might be paid for by a regular job. The ride share income might well be a bonus, essentially free money. These drivers can therefore charge much lower fares and when business is bad it costs them nothing to stop driving for a while. Cabbies who cannot find work have to pay for their vehicles anyway.

Cab driver unions have protested, even going on brief strikes in many cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC, plus cities in other countries. The details of the protestors’ demands vary, but the issue is always a level playing field; either the ride share services should be regulated as cab companies or the cab industry should be deregulated so that cab drivers can compete freely.

Ride share service providers protest that they are not simply a new kind of cab company—they are software companies. It is the drivers, not the app producers, who give rides. Arguably, these services are simply a high-tech version of old-fashioned community bulletin boards where people could post notices asking for or offering rides. And yet, the effect of these services on the taxicab industry is undeniable. And since the ride share services are unregulated, there is no guarantee at all that the drivers or their cars will be safe.

In some ways, each group is right. Realistically, this is not an instance of competition between companies but between separate yet related industries.  Depending on how regulators respond, either ride share services will squeeze the cab industry out of business, as has happened to other industries in the past as technologies changed—or ride share services will be regulated until they essentially become cab companies. Already in some areas, ride share drivers do have to carry minimum insurance and pass background checks.

There is a third option.

If the two industries can find a way to divide the market between them, so that ride share services occupy one niche and cab companies occupy another, then both kinds of drivers can prosper together. What do you think?

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Tracking Fleet Vehicle Theft With GPS

02/23/2015 by Leslie Garcia

Fleet managers work in a wide range of different industries, with different business plans, and with different types of vehicles. And yet, there is one thing on which all fleet managers agree; losing a vehicle is bad. Very bad.  This is why fleets of all sizes look to invest in a smart fleet tracking system.

Recovering  stolen vehicles remains one of the most important uses of live GPS tracking. Police can literally follow the missing car or truck in real time and move in to make an arrest as soon as it stops. Without this technology, police seldom recover vehicles still in one piece, let alone with the cargo still on board.

There are plenty of other reasons to invest in GPS fleet tracking, and vehicle recovery is, of course, a benefit fleet managers hope they never actually need—but the idea that the technology can be used this way is not just an educated guess.

A pool maintenance company lost a van full of dangerous chemicals, some of which could become weapons in the wrong hands. GPS tracking got the van and its contents back safely and quickly.

A big rig in Florida vanished overnight. The owner had lost vehicles to theft before and did not want to do so again. Fortunately, the truck had a hidden GPS transponder. He called the police but decided not to wait. He tracked the truck himself and chased the thieves away as they started to remove the wheels.

When a limo company’s luxury vehicle turned up missing, the owner and the authorities used GPS tracking to follow the car through three different jurisdictions. Because the device was well-hidden (not even the owner knew where it was) the thieves could not turn the tracking off, the way they could have disabled an alarm. The car was recovered quickly by authorities and returned to its owner.

Without tracking, a case that crossed so many jurisdictional lines could have taken a long time to solve.

Being able to recover a vehicle and its contents quickly translates into lower equipment replacement costs over time, better service to customers (since theft does not interfere with business as much), and possibly even lower insurance costs. And if crime no longer pays quite so well, maybe there will be less theft in the first place?

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Big Ways to Boost Your Fleet Company's Brand Value

02/20/2015 by Michael Jarvinen

Brand identity is a big part of the recipe for success for any business, and that includes commercial trucking fleets. A strong brand means that your business is well-known and recognizable—and that means that when someone goes looking for a carrier, they’ll think of you first. Besides increasing your market share, branding also raises the overall value of your company, which is especially important if you expect to sell at some point.

But brands are not static, unchanging things. A company can do a great job building its brand in the beginning and then find itself looking dated and out of touch as the years go by. Sometimes the same message works the same way for forty years; newer is not always better. But other brands lose their relevance and start turning off potential customers. There is no way to know which way your brand’s image is going if you don’t stop and reevaluate your brand regularly.

A strong brand has three main elements:

  • A recognizable look; the more often people see your logo, the more likely they are to remember it. A good logo is visually simple, easy to recognize, and evocative of your particular business. Make sure that logo is everywhere your business is—on your vehicles, on your buildings, your website, and any printed materials you produce.
  • Positive buzz; buzz is how people talk about your business and what people say has a lot to do with what they hear and see. Never miss an opportunity to boast about your business—new safety records, corporate successes, employees going above and beyond the call of duty, all these are reasons to speak up. For some businesses, creating buzz means launching an advertising campaign. Whether aggressive public marketing is right for you or not, be sure to use social media tools, like Facebook and Twitter, to get the word out there.
  • Excellent service; all the memorable logos and positive buzz in the world won’t help strengthen your brand if your business itself does not do great work. The people you work with have to be able to trust that your company will do its job well and conduct customer service with a smile. Doing a good job and treating people well is not just a great way to strengthen your brand, it is also the right thing to do.

Excellent service in turn has two main components.

First, you need to have good equipment, good policies and practices. Fleet management software is a good package of tools here; efficient routing, improved customer service, efficient maintenance scheduling, and improved security through GPS fleet tracking, all improve the value of your company.

But the heart of your brand is always the people who work for you. They make your fleet a success—or not. Recruitment, hiring, training, and retention are all big parts of making your company something worth boasting about. One way to look at it is that it’s your drivers’ job to take care of your customers, but it’s your job to take care of your employees. Fleet management software helps here, too, by improving both training and driver accountability. Great drivers can look forward to the recognition and better payment they deserve, if fleet managers can get the information they need.

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Following Grand Theft Auto in the Palm Springs Desert

02/16/2015 by Shawn Bellah

Desert Limo Services, a company providing black car services to Coachella Valley, California, and surrounding vicinities, was recently faced with a stolen vehicle case. Founder and CEO of the company, Kevin Blain, helped to quickly catch the culprits and recover the company’s stolen car by using GPS tracking.

As Kevin Blain walked into his office one morning, he noticed one of his vehicles was missing. After calling his entire team of drivers and security, no one was able to provide him with the vehicle’s whereabouts. He realized he was facing a stolen vehicle case and immediately reached out to police. Blain mentioned to the officers that his company used GPS fleet management software.

From there, the software's live interactive map view was used to follow the stolen vehicle which was tracking across the Greater Palm Springs area. Blain and the police team were able to utilize real-time GPS tracking and locate the stolen vehicle minute-by-minute through the software's dashboard. Three different police departments joined forces with Blain in monitoring the status of Desert Limo’s stolen car as it passed through their zones. Relying on live interactive mapping, Blain easily kept in close communication with each police department to guide them during the event.

Kevin Blain explains, “We ended up doing a ‘live zone relay’ with 3 different police jurisdictions. We kept the cops on the phone and we talked back and forth. What was fascinating to me was watching the car moving all over the screen.”

Through the use of a stolen vehicle tracking system, the company was able to retrieve their Lincoln Town car within a short span of time. The fleet management system provided detailed information about the stolen vehicle’s real-time location without the carjackers ever knowing there had been a tracking unit installed within the vehicle.

Blain adds, “These guys did a great job hiding the device− I actually don’t know where they put them. It used to be that people would have a simple alarm on their cars and it was connected to somewhere in the motor and once the thieves found it they could just disconnect it and you’d never see your car again.”

Because Desert Limo’s biggest investment is in their vehicles, they needed a fleet tracking system that was trustworthy and reliable. After seeking advice from many business professionals, Blain chose Teletrac Fleet Director as the best fit for his company’s needs.

 “At the time it was a choice between Teletrac and Fleetmatics. After speaking with a lot of professional business people that I know... I wanted a company I could rely on.”

I find the system's tracking and analytics to be the most beneficial, and knowing the speed and location of my drivers. There’s much more to it than I know. I can only imagine for someone who has a huge fleet; the benefits must be tremendous.”

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In It For The Long Haul

02/14/2015 by Caroline Ailanthus

Valentine’s Day can be tough when you’re on the road and your significant other is back at home. The trucker’s life is difficult enough on couples at the best of times, but a day dedicated for lovers just makes it all the harder to be apart.

That’s the bad news, and it isn’t news for most couples in the situation. The good news in that Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to spend time with the most important person in your life. Companies should encourage drivers to keep the connection with loved ones strong despite the distance, helping increase driver morale and retention.

Here are a few Valentine's Day tips for drivers to get the mental wheels turning:

  • Watch a movie together. Make plans to watch the same movie at the same time, then talk about it over the phone later. A favorite TV or radio show, or even two copies of the same book can provide a shared experience even when you are apart.
     
  • Eat dinner together—over the phone. Eating while talking on the phone with each other feels surprisingly like sharing a meal in person, plus it’s just a little goofy. Make it a Skype date and you can at least see your sweetie smile.
     
  • Send flowers, chocolates, or pajamas. Most florists can send flower orders anywhere in the country through networks of cooperating shops. Pro tip: find out what kind of flowers your sweetie likes first, because roses are not everybody’s favorite. There are also companies that deliver other kinds of surprises including, yes, pajamas.
     
  • Send a whole flock of tweets. A whole series of tweets, texts, or other messages over the course of the day is a lovely way to get your sweetie thinking about what you’re going to say next. Keep them thematically related, like top ten favorite things about your mate or top ten favorite memories you share.
     
  • Get help from conspirators. Getting help gives you a whole new world of options. You could set up a scavenger hunt where you send clues throughout the day or have a friend hide your wrapped gift at home or at work.
     
  • Issue an IOU. If necessary, agree to celebrate Valentine’s Day a few days or a week later, when you are home together. The important thing is to make each other a priority, no matter what day it is.

And after Valentine’s Day is over, it’s important to keep the romance going. Traveling for work is a permanent part of a truck driver’s life, so it is important to shape life around that reality. A happy home life means developing ways to show the love from the road every day. A standing agreement to call at a certain time, in order to demonstrate commitment; mutually agreed upon ground-rules in order to foster trust; clear and strong communication are all great ways to stay on one another's mind for the long haul.

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Retaining Driver Talent Is No Magic Trick

02/11/2015 by Caroline Ailanthus

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATS), driver turnover is up slightly, at least for large truckload carriers. Over the course of a year, 97% of these drivers will quit and need to be replaced. Less-than-truckload carriers have much lower turnover, at roughly 13%, but their rates have also gone up. Only small truckload fleets have not seen an increase, and their turnover rates are typically very high, around 94%. This is not the first time in recent history that turnover has risen, and rates are still not as high as those seen a decade ago, but a company that has to hire and train almost its entire workforce every year is in trouble.

For trucking companies, keeping talented drivers in the vehicles has to be a top priority. One way to do that is to expand recruiting efforts into non-traditional pools of potential applicants, such as women. Some carriers are doing just that. But if nine out of ten of those recruits will be gone in a year, clearly changing hiring practices is not enough.

The most obvious way to improve retention is to increase pay and benefits, and larger companies that have the resources are doing so, but money itself is not always the most important factor. Drivers also care about having some sense of control and ownership of their professional lives. They want to be treated fairly.

Safety analytics can give drivers more of what they want by giving fleet managers a more nuanced picture of who is doing what. Traditionally, most drivers were paid based on number of miles covered, a system that rewarded both speeding and continuing to drive while exhausted. Essentially, people were being penalized for taking care of their bodies and following the law, a frustrating system at best. Alternative possibilities, such as hourly pay or paying by the load, also did not allow driver pay to reflect driver skill.

Safety analytics software, on the other hand, can track which drivers speed, stop abruptly, or otherwise engage in risky or inefficient driving, making it possible to identify and reward the best drivers. That gives employees a fairer work situation and more direct control over their take-home pay.

The software also reduces the potential for accidents and moving violations and increases efficiency in both time and fuel use—thus saving the company a great deal of money. At least some of that money can go towards raising driver pay. Not having to rehire and retrain everybody every year will then save even more money, some of which can also be directed back towards drivers.

It’s a positive feedback loop of the best kind.

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When The Weather Is Frightful...You Can Count on GPS Fleet Tracking

02/05/2015 by Caroline Ailanthus

The old expression, it never rains except when it pours, seems to apply to snow now, too. While some areas of the country have gotten little to no snow, storm after storm have layered other parts of the US with feet of the white stuff. Travel delays and dangerous road conditions are the results.


In the trucking world, delays are not merely irritating—they mean lost business for carriers and lost income for drivers. Yet when officials close the highway, as happened throughout much of New England recently, there is little a professional driver can do.
Fleet management software can help keep vehicles moving along efficiently and it can also help managers get their drivers off the road when safety demands.


When extreme winter weather hits, each driver’s location is critical. Depending on where a truck is in relation to a developing storm, the right thing to do could be to hurry up and try to beat the weather, reroute the truck around the storm, or even stop and put up in a hotel. Real-time GPS tracking gives managers this crucial information. Even just being able to give the client an updated expected arrival time is important for driver safety, because it reduces the temptation to keep going in dangerous conditions just to keep the original schedule.


Some telematics providers are integrating weather information into their systems, using both crowd sourced information on road conditions and partnerships with meteorological agencies. Others will soon follow suit. In the future, automatic rerouting, or new route suggestions, may become standard. 


In the meantime, managers can use the systems they have to find out where their drivers are and compare that information to weather maps themselves. 


In the worst case scenario, if a driver does lose control in a snowstorm and crash, real-time GPS tracking could even save a life. If a fleet manager noticed a driver has stopped who should not have, he or she can use the communication feature to ask what happened and, if necessary, call the local authorities and direct them where to go.


In all cases, the objective is for the entire fleet and its manager to be able to act as a team in real-time. Fleet management software works to maximize the chance of timely deliveries and, more importantly, ensure that each driver will make it safely home to his or her family at the end of the trip.

 

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Which Organization Is Asking To Raise Taxes?

02/05/2015 by Caroline Ailanthus

In the United States, highway construction is paid for from the Highway Trust Fund, which also contributes money towards mass transit and the cleanup of leaking underground fuel tanks. The Fund, in turn, derives most of its money from a federal per gallon tax on both gasoline and diesel fuel.

Unfortunately, that tax has not gone up since 1993, while inflation and other factors have driven costs higher. Rather than moving to increase the tax, Congress has repeatedly attempted to lower or suspend it. The result is a backlog of construction and maintenance projects that put the public at risk and causes severe inefficiency within the trucking industry through traffic congestion—professional drivers spend about 141 million hours per year sitting in traffic jams, the equivalent of idling 51,000 drivers.

The American Trucking Association, AAA, and the Chamber of Commerce have jointly sent a letter to Congress asking that body to increase the tax.

The federal excise tax on gasoline is currently 18.4 cents per gallon. The same tax on diesel fuel is 24.4 cents. States also impose their own excise taxes on fuel, an average of 24.12 cents for gasoline and 24.9 cents for diesel. That means that about 40 cents of each gallon’s cost goes to pay taxes of one kind or another. That is not an inconsiderable tax rate, since it is about a quarter of the current total price of gas and fifth of the price of diesel. 

And yet, so rapidly have fuel costs come down that even if the federal tax were doubled (which is highly unlikely), the total price at the pump would still be dramatically lower than it was just a few months ago. Now may therefore be the best time to raise the tax.

It is obvious that the price of fuel will rise again, and the transportation industry specifically is in the process of improving fuel efficiency in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Both private and professional drivers have good reason to continue to seek more fuel efficiency and use of alternative fuels. These practices will protect the public from the costs of raising taxes. At the same time, a solvent Highway Trust Fund will pay for itself through increased highway safety and decreased traffic congestion.

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Virtual Traffic Lights Pave The Way For Safety

01/29/2015 by Caroline Ailanthus

Researchers working at Carnegie Mellon University are developing a way to reduce traffic by projecting traffic lights inside of vehicles.

With traditional systems, people on the road must watch and obey the same lights. The system works, but does not adjust itself to changing conditions.

The new system, in contrast, would use displays inside each car to direct traffic. When two cars approached an intersection in opposite directions, the system would automatically direct the cars out of each other’s way. If only one car approached the intersection, it could just keep going.

Such an adaptable and responsive form of traffic control would not only reduce the time drivers have to spend waiting at red lights, it could also improve safety and traffic flow overall. For example, the system could direct drivers away from congested areas, preventing the worst traffic jams before they start.

Researchers estimate this new technology could reduce some drivers’ commutes by as much as 40%. That could translate over weeks and months into a lot more time drivers could spend at home, relaxing with their families. By reducing idling at traffic lights and in traffic jams, these virtual traffic lights could also significantly reduce vehicle-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Obviously, the Carnegie Mellon technology would have to be installed on all cars on the road in order for the system to work. It is not something that an individual or a fleet could adopt independently. 

However there are currently technologies in development that could be adopted on an individual basis while offering some of the same benefits. For example, a vehicle could communicate with a city’s traffic light system in order to tell the driver when the next light ahead is going to change. The driver could then speed up, slow down, or even detour around in order to avoid a red light.

Such developments are in the near future, but fleet tracking software can offer some of the advantages of virtual traffic control today. GPS tracking makes it possible to coordinate route changes across an entire fleet in real time. That means that if one vehicle gets trapped in a traffic jam, the fleet manager can see which team can get to the job site faster and reassign the work.

Safety analytics also offers improvements in safety, driver efficiency, and fuel efficiency by allowing managers to identify which drivers need additional training—the very same benefits that virtual traffic control promises.

See? The future has arrived.

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Why Lower Fuel Prices Don't Mean What You Think

01/23/2015 by Caroline Ailanthus

Fuel consumption hits a company in its wallet as the money paid out for gas takes a bite out of the budget. Lowering those costs is an obvious reason to use less fuel and saving money is a satisfying indicator of that success.

The problem is that when fuel prices drop, fuel costs drop even if fuel use stays the same.

Falling fuel prices might not be a problem if money were all that mattered, but it isn’t. More and more fleets are making reduced fuel use an organizational goal. Lowering greenhouse gas emissions by improving fuel economy is the basis of fuel regulation.

When a fleet manager tries to reduce fuel use by giving other personnel fuel cost targets, falling fuel prices virtually ensure failure by making it look like the organization has met its goals when it has not.

A manager could set total fuel use targets instead, tracking gallons rather than dollars, but ultimately that is almost as deceptive. To illustrate why, imagine a delivery van with a set route every day. Now imagine that business falls off and the van is driving around half-empty. It’s obvious that a half-empty van wastes more fuel than a full one driving the same route, but since the fuel use is the same, the manager counting gallons won’t know. 

What fleets need to measure instead is load-specific fuel consumption—how much work each gallon of fuel does. With an eye on load to fuel ratios, a manager can accurately assess fuel efficiency across the fleet even if both the price of fuel and the amount of business the fleet changes radically.

The reason most fleet managers can’t do this is that work load and fuel use are usually the responsibility of different people, or even different departments. Tracking load-specific fuel consumption requires drawing together information that is usually kept separate. Ultimately, improving communication across departments is good for most organizations, but it is seldom easy and requires deliberate intent.

Fortunately, fleet management software is great at bringing together information in a useful way. Once a fleet begins tracking its load-specific fuel consumption, the software can help bring those numbers lower fast by bringing together data on the three places where inefficiency typically hides: driver behavior, mechanical issues, and routing.

Erratic driving, fast acceleration, hard braking, and speeding, all waste fuel. GPS tracking can catch all three in real time, record the episode, and alter the manager who can later work with the driver to prevent a repeat of the problem. Real-time tracking of all vehicles in a fleet also makes it easier to spot redundancies in the routes. Managers can then contact drivers and solve the problem. GPS fleet management software can also spot mechanical problems early, allowing the maintenance department to address issues promptly, before the vehicle’s gas mileage drops too far.

Bring down load-specific fuel consumption and not only will the organization meet its emissions-reduction commitments, but when fuel costs rise again (as they surely will), the budget will look good.

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5 Surprising Industries That Use GPS Tracking

01/19/2015 by Jovie Lopez

The option to use software to track a vehicle or asset was once a sparse idea, seemingly inaccessible to many organizations unfamiliar with how GPS tracking worked and what it could offer in real-time locations, cost-savings, safety, and compliance.

As of lately, a number of off-the-radar industries have adopted cloud-based fleet management solutions. These surprising industries are using GPS fleet tracking in innovative ways to locate anything from vehicles that transport priceless works of art to traveling school children to teenagers behind the wheel. To give you an idea, here are a few industries that provide a new perspective on how GPS tracking is used across the US on a daily basis:

Teen Driver Tracking

Aside from having made a home in smartphones, GPS technology has made its way into the cars of millennials for the purpose of tracking teen driving behavior. By offering parents an easy solution to wrestling the many aches and pains of parenthood, GPS tracking software reassures them with updates on the status of their teens once they’ve left the nest through a portable GPS-enabled device that’s installed into the car’s diagnostic port. Through the GPS device, parents are able to check on the car’s current location, speed, braking, and acceleration. A major plus to teen driver tracking is that it’s recognized by insurance companies, helping parents maintain a low premium while tracking their kids’ driving habits. One manufacturer that offers a GPS unit, or “black box”, in their C1 vehicles is Citroën. The company is partnered with GPS fleet tracking provider Teletrac and the first company ever to offer a Safety Analytics system as a standard feature in their vehicles.


Elderly Care Facilities

From tracking in-home care providers to functioning in non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) vehicles, GPS tracking and fleet management software play a large role in helping increase the quality of elderly care. ShuttleMED, a medical service and an investor in GPS technology for their fleet, has helped dispatchers in improving customer satisfaction and reducing wait times during emergency situations, such as an elderly person struggling to get up from a fall. ShuttleMED has been successful in its implementation of the fleet tracking software. “Having the tools to locate and dispatch the closest vehicle to each patient makes for a happy customer,” said William Manalo, president of ShuttleMED.


Art Museums and Institutions

Large art institutions are also taking significant measures to protect and transport priceless artifacts and other works of art with fleet management software. Museums face high liability in transporting many valued and irreplaceable art pieces; using a GPS fleet tracking solution to safeguard the timeless art, as well as themselves, is a no-brainer. Fleet management tools that provide real-time vehicle locations help these institutions monitor their assets, including the ability to track their vehicles for practical purposes like monitoring their buses which transport shuttle visitors around their campuses.


Ivy League Universities

GPS fleet tracking software has become essential in many academic institutions. These schools are often housed in vast acres of land, offering a multitude of programs and activities that make it necessary to branch out their buildings to other vicinities. This is where fleet management solutions come into play. Vehicles transport current and potential students, as well as visitors looking to explore these enormous campuses.
  

Bike Rentals

Companies like eBikes on Demand use telematics software to keep track of the vehicles that transport and distribute their eBikes (electric bicycles with a motor speed of up to 20mph), which are being distributed through the use of Teletrac Fleet Director. An installment of a GPS fleet tracking device in every van has assisted in driver accountability for each load of bikes carried out. “There isn’t anything that the system can’t do. We can monitor every single activity our drivers perform with our work vans and we can create landmarks for the most visited places,” said Lisa Marie, managing partner for eBikes.


The number of ways industries are using GPS fleet tracking is growing at a rapid pace. As we continue our search for innovative ways in improving our enterprises, a GPS fleet tracking solution has certainly become an essential tool in every business. Fleet management software not only allows businesses to locate their fleets in real-time and monitor driver behavior, but it also allows fleet managers to oversee excessive idle time of vehicles and provides an HOS solution, among many other cost-effective features that are useful for any industry across the board. 

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What's On the NTSB's Most Wanted List?

01/16/2015 by Caroline Ailanthis

Every year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) releases a list of the ten areas where it wants increased regulation in order to make our roads (and air and water) safer. The 2015 Most Wanted List is out now, and four out of the ten items relate to the transportation industry.

People who work in transportation, whether as drivers or managers, can take the opportunity to work on these four issues themselves. Some might even consider getting politically involved.

The four areas NTSB most wants to see include greater oversight of safety issues, stricter medical requirements, a national ban on texting or talking on the phone while driving, and more stringent efforts to keep drunk or drugged drivers out from behind the wheel. Fleet management software aids in tackling these issues.

Most broadly, the NTSB wants the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to improve their oversight of all aspects of the trucking industry. That includes faster out-of-service placement of carriers that do not improve safety problems, an electronic logging device mandate, and new rules for the trucks themselves. NTSB wants to see all trucks given rollover stability control systems, lane departure warnings, collision warnings, and tire pressure monitoring systems.

Specifically, the board asks for stricter rules regarding driver health, especially more frequent screening for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. The only people able to do driver health screenings should be professionals with legitimate access to the driver’s medical record and the power to prescribe medication.

The hoped-for ban on personal electronic device (PEC) use and the greater focus on impaired driving do both have a connection. It is well-known, by now, that both impaired and distracted driving is dangerous, yet a lot of risky behavior behind the wheel continues.

Many people simply do not realize the danger of driving under the influence of either illegal drugs or certain medications. And many do not realize that even small amounts of alcohol can meaningfully impair a driver. Most people do know that driving while texting or talking on the phone is dangerous, but they do it anyway. A surprise to many is that using hands-free devices is almost as dangerous as using an ordinary cell phone. Only 14 states, plus DC ban even handheld devices while driving.

Stricter laws and tighter regulation would help with these issues, but in the meantime drivers can address the problem on their own simply by not impairing or distracting themselves while driving. Fleet managers can go one step forward by developing stricter policies to ensure drivers can stay focused on the road.

Here, safety analytics software can help by identifying and recording instances of unsafe or erratic driving. Managers can then ask drivers why the incident occurred and can look for patterns of incidents. For example, do some drivers drive erratically more often than others? Did a normally skilled driver suddenly spend a day driving badly for no apparent reason? With potential problems identified, managers can investigate and take immediate action to secure their fleet.

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