In the world of fleet management, GPS tracking is an essential tool that companies can use to protect assets, drivers, and expensive cargo from theft. GPS, short for global positioning system, uses a process known as trilateration to create a signal that bounces between vehicle-installed components and a series of satellites. This highly-tuned signal tracks latitude, longitude, elevation, and time, creating a trackable location that is periodically reported through the system.
While the use of GPS fleet tracking is common, it’s important for fleet managers to know that GPS fleet tracking laws can differ by state. Most states have similar laws that make the tracking of any company-owned vehicle legal. If, however, an employee is driving their personal vehicle, GPS tracking is usually prohibited (see specific state rules for further clarification).
GPS fleet tracking laws in Texas
ELD requirements for Texas: This element of tracking includes requirements surrounding electronic logging devices, or ELDs. Per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these regulations cover drivers and HOS (hours of service) and how many hours a driver is allowed to be on the road without a mandated rest period.
For intrastate fleets, drivers who have a minimum of eight consecutive hours off-duty are allowed to drive for more than 12 hours, but no longer than 15 hours, without the mandated break.
Texas, however, has notable exemptions to this rule that are based on vehicle type or cargo type. For more information, visit the Texas Administrative Code from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Texas ELD exceptions for GPS tracking
As we stated earlier, GPS tracking laws vary by state, creating the necessity for fleet managers to understand rules and regulations in order to communicate important information to their drivers. Texas, for example, has their own set of GPS tracking exemptions with certain vehicle types falling under different mandates. ELD rules are also different depending on vehicle type:
ELD exemptions for certain vehicle types in Texas include:
- Mobile cranes: Any type of vehicle used to shift, lower, or lift cargo
- Seed cotton/cotton: Vehicles used in the transport of seed cotton or cotton
- Oil or water well servicing: Any kind of vehicle that was constructed with a mast, engine, draw works, and a permanent chassis
- Concrete pumps
- Agricultural commodities: Exemption applies to the transportation of commodities or farm supplies used for planting or harvesting seasons. This exemption is limited to a 150-mile radius from the source of the commodities transported.
IFTA laws also differ in Texas
Another GPS tracking exemption in the state of Texas surrounds IFTA, also known as the International Fuel Tax Agreement. This exemption denotes that any vehicles which travel between two states or provinces located within the United States and Canada must pay fuel charge taxes based on the number of miles traveled within each state.
Whether a driver is on-highway or off-highway, all driven miles for any fleet vehicle must be reported as taxable miles per trip in the state of Texas. This requirement is an exception to the rules of other states which accept annual filings for trips within their geographical boundaries.
As IFTA payments can be cumbersome, many fleet managers use a GPS fleet tracking system to keep track of all miles logged within Texas or other states. It’s just an easy way to remain compliant and ensure that miles are tracked according to both federal and state statutes.
The importance of GPS fleet tracking for Texas-based fleets
The benefits of GPS fleet tracking are immense, including solutions for security issues and the general well-being of cargo and drivers. In Texas, the IFTA requirements alone warrant the use of a GPS fleet tracking solution to help instant reports of total miles traveled within the state.
Other benefits of GPS for Texas-based fleets include:
- Lower operational costs, including decreases in insurance premiums
- Minimization of fuel costs as GPS systems can also help drivers find alternative routes for deliveries or travel
- Theft recovery, including a deterrence from criminal activities
- Increased productivity
GPS tracking in Texas: Concho Valley Transit District case study
By using GPS tracking as a component of their process, the Concho Valley Transit District in Texas improved safety drastically. Serving more than 150,000 residents, the district’s 62-vehicle fleet helps get people to work, medical appointments, school, and more. In 2015, prior to adding GPS tracking, the district experienced 13 major collisions which prompted an internal review of why they had fallen short of their safety mission.
To rectify the alarming number of safety events, the team brought in a team to create a new set of parameters surrounding safety, reliability, and customer service. Road supervisors and a new operations manager also came onboard to enact and track the recommendations.
New metrics tracked included:
- Collision frequency
- Severity of accidents
- Timeliness of scheduled deliveries
Investing in new technologies
A lack of resources was targeted as a cause for shortfalls in reporting issues. While the district had cameras onboard some of the vehicles, the data had to be manually downloaded and viewed with special software that was only accessible from one laptop.
To combat the issue of regular data, the team at Concho Valley Transit District selected the Lytx® Driver Safety Program as the primary safety technology for its fleet. This system allowed supervisors to immediately diagnose problems and quickly begin new processes.
One issue that stood out was driver speeding. The system helped point out how pervasive the practice was amongst their fleet, and alerted fleet managers. This enabled them to educate and coach their drivers.
Lytx fleet safety solutions made it easier to train the fleet’s 54 operators. Using data gathered from the system, managers and supervisors could spend time with individual drivers and even allow them to view the exact moments when they had created a speeding event or other violation.
Drivers were also given praise when their driving improved and they remained accident and incident free.
Results that made a difference
A year after implementing the Lytx Driver Safety Program, the Concho Valley Transit District reported the following stats. Beginning with the 13 major accidents that prompted conversations surrounding safety, the district saw vast improvements, including:
- 82% improvement in following distance
- 62% reduction in traffic violations
- 26% improvement in response rate
- 25% improvement in intersection awareness
- 95% of coached drivers did not repeat their mistakes
See the full case study here.
Turn to Lytx for your GPS fleet tracking solutions
With over 20 years in the GPS and fleet tracking sector, our solutions have helped fleets of all sizes meet their safety and reporting requirements in Texas and across the United States and Canada. With our set of solutions, your fleet will drive smarter, lower costs, improve CSA scores, and adhere to both DOT and FMCSA rules.