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Thursday, September 19, 2013

How Utilities Improve Fleet Safety and Reduce Liability with GPS Fleet Management

For water, electrical and communication utility companies with large mobile work-forces, safety in the field is paramount. Field safety requires more than just good equipment and proper procedures. Safe and proper driving habits are also an important factor in safe field operations. But, how can these businesses ensure its drivers are following the rules while working on and off the road?

Many utility companies are finding that installing global positioning system (GPS) vehicle tracking on their fleet vehicles provides one sure way to improve safety. But, the benefits go beyond a safer driving record to include reduced costs and higher productivity.


Here are four key benefits to GPS fleet tracking for improved fleet and driver safety:

Improved Driver Behavior
Even with the most aggressive safe driving policy, you cannot be on the road with all your drivers to ensure they are obeying traffic laws; making wise decisions while driving. While you'd like to believe there's no need for such vigilance, even the most responsible drivers may slip up from time to time.

GPS vehicle tracking gives business owners the insights necessary to improve driver behavior. Improper or dangerous driving behaviors may include excessive speeding, hard braking, quick starts and harsh cornering.

Most GPS tracking solutions monitor vehicle speed and can provide real-time alerts when a driver has exceeded a specific speed threshold. Speed and other behavioral alerts allow you to immediately take corrective action toward the offending driver. In addition, you can access a database of driving violations for drivers to find those that continually break speeding and other driving policies. This allows you to take more long-term corrective actions to improve bad driving habits.


By ensuring your drivers obey the posted speed limits and avoid hard braking, aggressive acceleration and sharp cornering, you can significantly decrease the chances of your vehicles being involved in a serious accident.

Better Safety, Fewer Accidents = Cost Savings
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the average crash costs an employer $16,500. When a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved.
Accidents are costly to the business and can cause irreparable harm to those directly involved. Unfortunately, accidents are simply an eventuality if you have a vehicle fleet. You can, however, reduce your exposure to accidents by using proven safety measures.

In addition to monitoring the dangerous driving behaviors previously mentioned, GPS tracking systems can help drivers avoid other accident-causing factors such as unfamiliarity with the road. GPS tracking systems that use a proven mapping technology can help dispatchers provide better routing instructions to drivers and get them safely to the next job-site.

Other systems offer integration with navigation solutions, enabling dispatch to program each driver's destinations before they get behind the wheel. Drivers can then follow the directions provided by an in-cab navigation device, removing the need to reference a map or enter an address while driving.

In addition, good GPS tracking tools can include up-to-the-minute traffic information that can help drivers avoid accidents, inclement weather and other hazards on the roads.

No fleet business can afford to ignore safe driving practices. The potential liability cost is a deterrent on its own, but considering how safer driving can help your business save money, it's clear that safe driving is smart business.

• Reduce fuel costs-According to the U.S. Department of Energy, aggressive driving wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Each 5 mph driven over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.25 per gallon. Such fuel-burning activities as speeding and fast starts can be avoided through regular vehicle monitoring provided by GPS fleet tracking systems.
• Lower repair bills-Proactive, regular maintenance protects your vehicles and drivers from dangerous breakdowns and blowouts, and also helps prevent the need for repairs in the first place.
• Reduce risk and insurance expenses and fewer accidents means a safer driving record and will lower premiums over time.

Improved Vehicle Maintenance and Efficiency
Improper vehicle maintenance can lead to accidents in several areas-including brakes, tires, engine breakdowns and more.

Another benefit of high-quality GPS tracking solutions is that they include maintenance scheduling that alerts you when vehicles are due for a maintenance checkup. Many times, alerts can be set by calendar time, engine on-time or mileage, depending on the type of service needed.


With proper maintenance and inspection, you can be sure your vehicles comply with regulatory requirements-not to mention proper maintenance will extend the life of your vehicles and significantly improve the safety of your drivers.

Reduced Liability
Fleet businesses already pay more in insurance costs than other businesses. Every moving vehicle citation or accident increases your businesses' liability and your premiums. But consider how other incidents such as unauthorized use can impact your liability.

Many businesses allow drivers to take their vehicles home and many even allow drivers to use their vehicles for limited personal use. Unfortunately, some employees abuse this privilege and use their vehicles for extended unauthorized journeys. If a driver gets into an accident during one of these journeys, your business may be liable for significant financial obligations.

Quality GPS tracking solutions feature alerts that notify you when a vehicle starts up or moves during unauthorized hours. In addition, some systems can show you historic route information, so you can see exactly where your vehicles traveled at any time. You will know exactly when an employee used the vehicle, how long they drove the vehicle and where they went.

GPS solutions with robust reporting suites can even show you if drivers take their vehicles to unauthorized areas during the regularly scheduled workday.

It's all 'Good Business'
From vehicle maintenance to driver behavior, a business' fleet plays a major factor in creating a safe mobile workplace. In addition to a well maintained, secure fleet of vehicles, utility companies can reap significant productivity and asset saving benefits from a GPS fleet tracking solution-such as lower repair costs, fewer speeding violations and reduced liability. In the end, a safe fleet is an efficient fleet, and that's just good business.