The term “Telematics” refers to a technology that combines telecommunications and information processing to send, receive, and store information related to remote objects, such as vehicles. (Source GAO 14-443, Federal Vehicle Fleets)
In May 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report “Federal Vehicle Fleets: GSA Has Opportunities to Further Encourage Cost Savings for Leased Vehicles” (GAO 14-443). GAO indicated in the report that the experts consulted by GAO “agreed that in some cases, telematics could facilitate cost savings by providing fleet managers with information needed to reduce fleet size, fuel use, misuse of vehicles, and unnecessary maintenance.” However, GAO also recognized that “the term ‘telematics’ encompasses a broad array of technologies, which results in a wide range of associated costs. For example, telematics can include original equipment installed by the manufacturer, after-market add-on systems, or mobile device applications and programs.” In addition, telematics may involve a variety of applications such as the following:
- GPS tracking - Fleet managers can monitor the location of their vehicles in real-time by logging on to a user accessible website.
- Engine diagnostics - Fleet managers can setup to have engine diagnostics reports delivered to their email showing the current condition of the vehicle, odometer readings, idle time, emissions information and speed data.
- Vehicle monitoring and drive identification - Fleet manager to track every driver of every vehicle. Via the usage of key fobs for the drivers or in-vehicle devices, a fleet manager can track who is, or was, driving any given vehicle at any particular time, as well as limit who can operate which vehicles.
- In vehicle recording – This solution uses inward and outward facing cameras to record the driver’s behavior as well as the vehicle’s surroundings. The device saves the footage from several seconds before and after a sudden movement occurs, such as sudden stop or hard turn.
- Instant driver feedback – This system provides an immediate, private, in cabin indication via light activation within the driver’s line of sight. The feedback device is designed to track and report harsh breaking, sudden acceleration, cornering/high speed turns, unsafe lane changes and speeding (with a pre-determined speeding threshold)
As a result of GAO’s recommendations to GSA, GSA requested information from agencies on their experiences with telematics in their fleets. Download the Federal Agency Telematics Experiences [PDF - 118 KB] document to view agency’s experience.