Winter has been brutal this year, with many states experiencing more snow and ice than they usually do. Snow storms have occurred later in the season than normal too, meaning spring has yet to arrive in some parts of the country. All that winter precipitation creates dangerous road conditions requiring snow plows, salt trucks, and careful driving. While many people choose to just stay home when the roads are bad, others watch the news carefully for reports on road conditions to see which roads are safe for travel. In at least one city, GPS tracking is making it easier to get those reports out in record time.
Springdale, Arkansas has equipped each of its road crew trucks with an iPad-based GPS tracking device. As the trucks travel their routes, the GPS tracking data can be viewed in real time by the community engagement supervisor for the city. She in turn posts updates to Facebook and other social media outlets to let people know which roads can be traveled safely. The technology makes it possible for people to know exactly when it’s safe for them to make the trip to work, to school, or to the store.
Other Uses for Fleet Vehicle GPS Tracking
GPS tracking for fleet vehicles is far from a new concept. Many fleet managers use the devices to track fuel usage, routes traveled, and other data in order to help their crews operate more efficiently. Some of the most common uses for fleet vehicle GPS tracking include:
|Fuel Usage||GPS tracking can help determine when fuel isn’t being used efficiently by tracking routes traveled and idle times.|
|Bus routes||Both school buses and city buses often use GPS tracking to monitor bus routes and let passengers know whether the bus is running on time.|
|Stops made||Managers of delivery truck fleets can use GPS tracking to determine whether drivers are taking the most direct route to their destinations and whether any unauthorized stops are made.|
|Cost savings||By monitoring the above data, managers can implement better training to help drivers make the most efficient use of their time on the road. This results in fuel savings and potentially more deliveries in the same period of time, both of which lead to significant cost savings.|
|Theft prevention||Vehicles and construction equipment which must be left overnight at a construction site often make tempting targets for theft. GPS tracking can enable swifter recovery in the event of a theft, saving the company thousands of dollars in replacement costs.|
Why GPS Is a Great Addition to Winter Safety Measures
Many cities already use social media to update local residents about the condition of roads in the winter. It’s a great way to get the latest information out to a large number of people quickly. GPS helps expedite that process even more. When each road crew vehicle is equipped with a GPS tracking device, information about where they’ve traveled gets relayed immediately and can be provided to followers in the form of social media updates. No more waiting for trucks to end a shift or radio in where they’ve been. GPS tracking stays on top of that information using:
- Real-time tracking data—City managers can view the location of each truck on a map from the comfort of their office. Updates can be posted at regular intervals, or as often as needed.
- Data logs over time—Data logs record the location information for each truck over the course of the day as it travels its route. When less frequent updates are needed, this information can be used to create a daily report for commuters.
Moving Forward With GPS Tracking
Cost is often cited as the primary reason cities and municipalities are reluctant to purchase GPS tracking systems for fleet vehicles. However, those who have taken the plunge have reported significant cost savings in the first year. The cost of the system can be recouped in terms of fuel savings and greater efficiency very quickly. The technology can also help prevent theft or recover stolen property, saving thousands of dollars in replacement costs.
Another benefit of using tracking devices is that they can help with maintenance schedules. Many models allow managers to set service reminders based on miles or hours driven or a specific date on the calendar. By staying up to date on the service needs of each vehicle, managers can avoid costly break-downs and repair costs.
As much of the country enjoys the first stirrings of spring, those still in the grip of winter can look to GPS tracking for better information about road conditions, bus schedules, and other travel needs. And when spring has truly arrived, GPS tracking will keep right on helping city managers increase efficiency, provide better information to the public, and train employees to use safe and efficient driving practices.