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GPS vs. Telematics: How Do They Compare?

By Tim TylerMay 20, 2020
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You are probably familiar with the average GPS device; maybe it’s a Garmin, a Navman or even a smartphone running something like Google Maps. You have a rough idea about how it works — by connecting to the constellation of GPS satellites and it helps navigate you to your destination with turn-by-turn directions from your current location. Easy, right?

But maybe a friend has mentioned that your business could benefit from telematics. Telewhat? What is telematics, and is it related to the GPS unit you currently use?

Your friend is right — telematics could help your business. It has helped lots of fleets save on fuel costs, maintenance and compliance costs while improving efficiency and productivity. It can also provide reliable navigation for your drivers.

Telematics can mean a lot of different things but as it applies to fleets it involves using data or information collected from a network or group of connected vehicles.

Essentially, telematics can transform your fleet from a bunch of disparate, separate vehicles into a cohesive, organized fleet working together toward common goals.

Telematics and GPS — What's the connection?

So what do telematics and GPS have to do with each other? They are not competing systems; rather, GPS is used as part of a telematics solution.

At the heart of telematics systems is a vehicle tracking device with a built in GPS receiver  that collects real-time data about the current location and status of the vehicle. A telematics solution takes that GPS tracking data and sends it via the cellular network to central computers. From there, the data can be processed, converted into usable information that is visible in fleet management software.

GPS tracking data can give a precise view of where your vehicles are at any given time, if you have only one truck on the road or hundreds of fleet vehicles operating across the United States. It can help identify driver behaviors like speeding, harsh braking and acceleration and excessive idling, all which can impact vehicle maintenance and running costs. Geofencing, and alerts about unauthorized truck movements that are made possible with GPS trackers can help improve fleet safety. And GPS tracked travel between states can help automate paperwork like IFTA reporting.

However, what makes GPS tracking even more powerful is the additional engine data that  telematics systems can collect: as, fuel consumption, odometer readings, engine diagnostic trouble codes — in fact, just about any vehicle metric can be monitored by connecting the right  vehicle tracking unit to the vehicle's electronics.

Telematics highlights the potential of GPS and how it can be used to streamline  business operations, particularly in modern fleets.

Navigation from telematics - using GPS

GPS is commonly used to navigate drivers efficiently to their destination. A Verizon Connect telematics solution can include a fully featured navigation solution that has been specifically designed for commercial drivers. It features a number of benefits not generally available with consumer GPS (free) solutions.

  • Truck-legal routes based on vehicle weight and load.
  • Feedback from 150,000+ other professional drivers on the latest road conditions.
  • Realistic previews of upcoming route to assist with lane changes or complex maneuvers.
  • Last-mile routing that can take you right to the loading dock, not just a street address.

Why get a telematics solution?

The existence of this network of connected vehicles with GPS receivers means fleet managers no longer have to run their business largely in the dark — they know where all vehicles are and what they're doing. A few benefits gained by fleets using telematics include:

  • Fuel economy increased by 18%
  • Economical driving improved by 15%
  • Harsh braking incidents decreased 77%
  • Engine idle time down 64%
  • Driving hours (windshield time) decreased 24%

Fleet telematics  data makes managers more aware of what's happening, what's costing them and how they can work more efficiently. Operating a fleet without telematics is a bit like trying to drive the speed limit without having a speedometer; without a clear gauge, you never know how fast you're going in relation to the posted speed limit.

Fleet performance is much the same. If you're trying to reduce fleet costs but you have no idea what you're actually spending money on, then at best you'll be taking a shotgun approach to cutting costs. A GPS telematics system can give you a clear dashboard of everything from miles driven to excessive idling.

In fact, you'll find (just like a lot of other fleet managers have already) that a good telematics solution can provide a positive return on the initial investment. Maybe it's time you took advantage of the potential GPS can offer your fleet by installing a telematics solution.


1507090871 tim tyler
Tim Tyler

Tim Tyler joined the team in 2015 and is responsible for product positioning and voice of market (VOM) in order to affect the way the marketing team connects and communicates with customers.


Tags: Cost control, Customer Service, Dispatching & Scheduling, Field management, Payroll, Performance & Coaching, Productivity & Efficiency, Routing, Safety, Vehicle & asset security, Vehicle Maintenance