How Does Fleet Tracking Work?

Reviewed by
Vedant Khamesra
Published date:
November 15, 2022

How Does Fleet Tracking Work?

To properly manage your team of employees in any business, you must know what they’re doing throughout the day. If you don’t have an accurate picture of the workday, how can you maximize your team’s efficiency? Tracking your team’s output allows you to make better decisions about your company.

This can get complicated when your team consists of professional drivers moving throughout the country. Fleet tracking helps solve that problem.

By using modern GPS technology to track your fleet, you can better manage your assets, anticipate, and react to potential problems before they cause you trouble. So, how does fleet tracking work? Let’s look a little closer so you can better understand fleet tracking and how it can benefit you and your employees.

How Do I Track My Fleet?

It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of fleet tracking in real time would be considered an impossibility. Having drivers call in periodically was about the most you could hope for when it came to creating a picture of where your fleet was. 

Thankfully, technology has changed that. 

By utilizing a GPS fleet tracking device, you can now get a picture of your entire fleet in real-time, allowing you to make better decisions about where you allocate your resources.

How GPS Tracking Works

To understand fleet tracking, we first need to understand GPS. 

GPS stands for Global Positioning System, and while it has become an omnipresent factor in people’s lives, many of us don’t really understand how it works. If your goal is successful fleet tracking, you don’t need to be an expert on your GPS tracking system, but it will help to understand the basics.

GPS refers to a web of 31 satellites operated by the United States. GPS is just one such web of satellites that make up the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). In addition to the GPS system, there are:

  • GLONASS, operated by the Russian Federation
  • Galileo, operated by the European Union
  • BeiDou, operated by China

All of these satellites are free to use for the international community. But how do they work? For satellite tracking, there are three elements needed:

  • Satellite
  • Receiver
  • Ground station

The satellites all orbit the globe, and their positions are monitored using ground stations. At all times, they send signals back to Earth. Receivers listen for those signals. Once a receiver picks up a signal, it can calculate how far away they are from the satellite that sent it. When four such signals are picked up, we can pinpoint that receiver's location, often within a couple of yards.

From a practical standpoint, that means that if you have receivers in all of your fleet vehicles, you can track their positions accurately at all times from a central location. This means you’ll know where your fleet is, how quickly they’re traveling, and whether they’re taking the best routes, allowing you to make adjustments as needed.

Do Fleet Vehicles Have GPS Tracking?

Many modern commercial vehicles now have GPS technology included as a standard. However, if your fleet utilizes older vehicles, you may need to have GPS receivers installed before you can start tracking. Also, you may want to install GPS receivers in more than just vehicles. Other things you may want to track include:

  • Trailers – As trailers may be switched among multiple vehicles, it can be useful to equip them with their own GPS receivers, so you don’t lose track of where they are at any given time.

  • Assets and goods – You can use a GPS fleet tracking system to monitor any assets that may be moving, so you can have real-time updates on their progress and ensure they don’t become lost anywhere along their route.

Before you start looking to install GPS receivers everywhere, there are a few legal requirements worth being aware of:

  • It is legal to install GPS so long as your business owns the vehicle or asset. If you are not the owner, you are not allowed to install GPS tracking devices.

  • You need to make your employees aware that they will be tracked while they work. Tracking employees without their knowledge is illegal.

  • Tracking must only be used for reasons directly related to your business.

It’s also worth noting that fleet tracking can go beyond simply GPS. While GPS may be the backbone of tracking, you can also utilize devices such as dashboard cameras, electronic logging devices, and smart route planning. These allow you to automate more of your operations and fully optimize your fleet. All of these tools together are generally referred to as telematics.

What is telematics? Telematics is the technology of tracking cars and other vehicles in a fleet through GPS technology. Some of the benefits of fleet telematics include boosting efficiency and productivity and reducing operational and fuel costs. All in all, a GPS fleet tracking system helps fleet management go much smoother.

Is Fleet Tracking Important?

Installing new equipment and establishing new systems costs both time and money. However, the knowledge gained from tracking your fleet will be worth it in the long run. But there’s a way to get the most out of your telematics system cost. Beyond simply knowing where your vehicles are, additional benefits of fleet tracking include:

  • Improved safety – Professional drivers often face long hours and difficult conditions. It’s imperative that they’re equipped with the best training and that their driving reflects that training. By utilizing advanced tracking, you get more than just a report on where your drivers are and how fast they’re going. Advanced trackers can provide actionable insights into your drivers’ performance (even down to whether they are wearing their seatbelts). This lets you assess who is performing well and who is being reckless when it comes to safety.

  • Improved performance – In addition to seeing who your safest drivers are, tracking can also provide insight that can help you improve driver performance. From planning the best routes to assessing unnecessary stopping and idling, tracking lets you optimize how your drivers work.

  • Monitor legal compliance – Because of the dangers professional drivers face, legal restrictions are placed on how long they can work and how often they need to take breaks. Tracking lets you stay on top of compliance and make sure that all your drivers are well-rested.

  • Proof of delivery – Sometimes, assets get lost after delivery. When this happens, the first instinct of some customers may be to blame you and your drivers. GPS tracking gives you proof of delivery with exact times and places of delivery that you can show to your customers.


Can Fleet Tracking Save Money?

While there are many benefits to fleet tracking, it takes some equipment to set up and implement. Dashboard cams, GPS trackers, and other automation tools have an upfront cost. However, as you start implementing changes based on your tracking, you may find that fleet tracking saves you money in the long run.

Some ways that fleet tracking can help you save money are:

  • Fuel costs – One of the major expenses of running a fleet is fuel. Advanced fleet tracking allows you to reduce your fuel costs in several important ways:

  • ~Better route planning will lead to fewer miles traveled and less fuel usage.
  • ~Monitoring driver performance will provide insights as to the speed your drivers use. Speeding can hurt your overall fuel economy.
  • ~Too much vehicle idling wastes fuel. Tracking will help you better assess your idling costs and reroute around traffic jams.

  • Maintenance costs – Tracking technologies can help you better manage your drivers, but, perhaps more importantly, they can help you manage your fleet. Tracking makes it easy to stay on top of scheduled maintenance and can even provide insight into vehicle performance in areas like engine diagnostics and coolant temperature, just to name a couple of examples.

  • Optimized payroll – Tracking tools give you a more accurate idea of when your drivers are working. This helps you become more efficient in your payroll and eliminates the need to manually verify timesheets. Your drivers will be paid more accurately and more quickly.

  • More jobs – By knowing exactly where your fleet is, and the amount of time a job is taking, you can better assess when you’re able to take on extra work. You can also better dispatch your drivers to nearby jobs.

  • Eliminate unnecessary costs – When running a fleet, you want to know that your vehicles are being used only for the jobs they are assigned to. Tracking lets you better monitor to make sure no one is using your company vehicles for side jobs or personal reasons. This can help you eliminate costs you may not even have been aware of otherwise.

  • Fewer refunds or missed payments – As mentioned earlier, tracking devices can be used to prove to a customer that a job was completed. This can help you avoid contract disputes and make sure that you get paid for all completed jobs.

More Ways to Save with AtoB

Fleet tracking can be a powerful tool for optimizing how your business is run and saving you money. Another way you can optimize your business and save money is by utilizing fuel cards from AtoB.

AtoB fuel cards are different in that they have no hidden fees. No setup fee, no per-transaction fees, and no out-of-network fees. Instead, you get a fuel card powered by Visa that you can use at any fuel station with no limit on your discounted gallons. The best fleets take every opportunity to optimize their operations. Fleet tracking is one such option. AtoB is another. Learn more about what we offer today!


GPS Insight. How Does GPS Tracking Work?  


Verizon Connect. What is Telematics? 

Business News Daily. Best GPS Fleet Tracking Software and Systems for 2022. 

NASA Space Place. How Does GPS Work? 

Federal Aviation Administration. Satellite Navigation - GPS - How It Works.

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Reviewed by

Vedant Khamesra

Vedant Khamesra is the driving force behind product management at AtoB. Specializing in strategic partnerships, SMB solutions, and new product development, Vedant seamlessly navigates P&L responsibilities while leading product execution and strategy. He is fueled by AtoB's mission to empower truckers and fleets with intelligent financial tools and services, making their lives easier and more rewarding.

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