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Is managing your vehicles and drivers more perspiration than inspiration? A good vehicle tracking solution lets you spend less time on the phone and more time running your business. It can help you make informed decisions quicker by streamlining how you access essential data. You can also take advantage of instant updates to keep you aware of what’s happening with your vehicles in real-time, allowing you to optimise your fleet much more efficiently.
Choose a provider with the widest range of hardware options possible
Good vehicle tracking providers keep up with new technology, invest in product innovation and offer a complete range of hardware for all needs and budgets.
Look for adaptability
You will start a long-term partnership so make sure your provider can meet your needs with add-on hardware or extra services, no matter how your company evolves.
Telephone training and support should be offered
Choose a provider offering telephone support and expert technical after-sales care. Look for lifetime hardware warranties, too.
You tell us about your vehicles, your business and the information you need from your tracking.
We compare your needs with the products available and get quotes on the best matches.
Then we check your details and pass you over to the relevant company to get you started.
Vehicle tracking and telematics are fundamentally the same thing.
Most people use the term vehicle tracking, or vehicle trackers, to describe the simpler end of the product range, and telematics for systems with more complex functionality. With no widely accepted definitions, people tend to decide for themselves where exactly to draw the line between what is telematics and what is vehicle tracking.
There are many types of vehicle tracking devices or vehicle trackers.
The core of a vehicle tracking system is a GPS vehicle tracker which transmits a location signal. There may be an integral or separate accelerometer, which can give accurate data on the speed of the vehicle and sudden stopping.
There are also vehicle tracking devices which can connect to the vehicle CAN bus and transmit diagnostics and other information about parts of a vehicle being opened, closed or activated. Other vehicle tracking devices include dash cams and in-vehicle cameras, which live-stream video footage.
These vehicle tracking devices are wired to the vehicle battery as their source of power. They communicate with vehicle tracking software platforms via the mobile phone network, sending signals using their SIM cards. There are often multiple SIM cards in a vehicle tracking system, which switch between network providers to make sure the connection is never out of range.
Vehicle tracking devices for security and theft protection can have their own battery, meaning they can be hidden absolutely anywhere in the vehicle and are therefore hard for thieves to find. They send GPS satellite signals, mobile phone triangulation signals and also radio frequency signals. This makes them impossible to block, even underground or using signal jammers.
A vehicle tracking system operates by receiving data from vehicle trackers installed in vehicles, wired to the battery.
These devices have SIM cards that send their data continuously to a cloud-hosted software platform that can store and data, interpret it and present it to fleet managers and business owners via an internet-connected PC or mobile device.
Data from vehicle trackers includes the vehicle location by GPS, from which the software can also calculate the vehicle’s speed. It displays the live location on a map along with its past movements, start and stop times, and locations and times where the vehicle went over the speed limit.
An accelerometer will also send data that the vehicle tracking system can use to identify possible collisions as well as over-revving (detected through rapid acceleration), rapid cornering and sudden braking, all of which demonstrate careless handling of the vehicle which increases risk of accidents, wear and tear and waste of fuel.
Dash cams, like all professional vehicle cameras, can connect to vehicle tracking systems and transmit footage to a cloud server. This means the footage is backed up.
They use a machine-to-machine roaming SIM card that uses the various mobile phone networks. It pulls whichever is the strongest network available in the vehicle location, which guarantees the most reliable signal at all times. So the vehicle camera works like a collection of mobile phones subscribed to several network providers. Your payment structure will include paying the monthly subscription for the SIM service and a price for the cloud storage, which will likely be bundled in with your overall vehicle tracking subscription.
When choosing cloud-based dash cam or vehicle camera system, the service you get will depend on your vehicle tracking platform as well as the camera itself. The camera can send footage, but the vehicle tracking software decides how much of it to store, what to store, and for how long. Vehicle tracking systems also decide whether to alert you when there’s a sudden braking event which might mean there’s been a collision or other accident.
Vehicle tracking data can integrate vehicle mileage with other fleet-related data, such as fuel purchases made using fuel cards.
Most providers let you download a spreadsheet or csv file and integrate the data yourself, but one provider (Radius Telematics) puts fuel card and vehicle tracking in the same online account, so their system can work out the mpg of each vehicle for you. For this to work accurately, your drivers must use fuel cards from this company and never use other payment methods.
This is a clever and economical solution to provide the same data that much more expensive telematics platforms can provide by linking to the CAN bus and fuel gauge of the vehicle to take miles per gallon data directly from the “brain” of the vehicle.
For some companies this mpg data provides useful information to start cutting costs. Linking fuel card data to vehicle tracking data is also useful to identify any fraudulent use of your cards. There is always a possibility that cards are being used inappropriately to pay for fuel put into private vehicles. Fuel fraud alerts allow you to monitor for fuel misuse by cross referencing the location of your vehicles to the location where the fuel card was used.
Vehicle tracking systems can start from less than £10 a month per vehicle for the most basic subscription and GPS vehicle trackers, and can go up to several hundred pounds for a fleet with detailed or unusual tracking needs.
Prices increase in proportion to the amount of hardware you have installed and the data volume you are collecting. Prices will also vary depending on the quality of hardware you choose and the number of other services you opt for. For example, if you have vehicle cameras you will pay for the camera and a monthly subscription for the SIM that live streams your video footage to the cloud, plus a little extra for the data storage supplied by your vehicle tracking provider.
No. Vehicle trackers are fully legal for your business, provided you make sure the driver of the vehicle is aware. Millions of businesses track their vehicles, including Amazon, supermarkets and other delivery companies that inform customers when their order will arrive. It is recommended you get all your drivers to sign an agreement to be tracked or incorporate a statement to this effect in their employment contract, so that you can easily prove they have been informed.
UK law says that, in addition to vehicle trackers, you can use video footage and even sound recordings of your drivers, but only if you have made sure they know they are being recorded. The law is similar in most of Europe with the very notable exceptions of Germany and Portugal, where restrictions on videoing people without their knowledge is so strict that even external-facing dashcams are almost impossible to use legally.
For more information on the legality of vehicle tracking, read our guide page.
The question of how vehicle trackers can be disabled is often asked by worried business owners, who want to know how much they can rely on their vehicle tracking solution for security.
It is impossible to disable a GPS vehicle tracker without being found out. Any loss of power will trigger an immediate automatic alert to the vehicle owner or business manager, advising that the vehicle tracker has been tampered with, which in most cases will be followed up immediately by a call to the police.
Besides the regular GPS vehicle tracker that is wired to the battery, many vehicles also have another anti-theft asset tracker with its own internal power supply. These can be hidden absolutely anywhere on or under the vehicle. They are used by national recovery teams who work with the police to track down stolen vehicles. Apart from the GPS signal they transmit two other types of signal as well, which even work underground.
Another security measure is the vehicle cameras. These can also be installed in numerous places outside and inside a vehicle and can be almost impossible to see. Being cloud-connected, they can live-stream video footage. This means you will be caught on camera with footage that is backed up remotely, even if you find and destroy the cameras.