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What is Telematics?

July 18, 2023 Technology Author: Rush Truck Centers Read Time: 4 Min

Enhancing Fleet Productivity and Driver Safety Through Technology

With real-time data from a telematics system, companies can know what’s going on with their fleet vehicles the moment something happens, allowing them to make faster, better-informed business decisions and keep their vehicles up and running.

But what exactly is telematics?

Within the trucking industry, telematics refers to the combination of devices and solutions used to transmit data and information about an individual vehicle or an entire fleet to a dashboard to be analyzed in real time.

Telematics systems collect and transmit data on everything from a vehicle’s GPS location, driver habits, fuel consumption, engine diagnostics, fault codes, vehicle activity, accident detection, DOT and safety compliance, and more. A company can view all of the data collected by the telematics systems installed in its vehicles using fleet management software for a comprehensive view of the health, productivity, performance and safety of its entire fleet.

How Telematics Systems Works

These devices, whether pre-installed or installed aftermarket, collect data and other vehicle-specific information via a GPS receiver, engine interface, accelerometer and buzzer. Using a SIM card and modem, the telematics device transmits data over cellular or satellite networks to centralized servers, or “the cloud,” where it is interpreted and processed. Companies can then use fleet management software to view easy-to-understand dashboards and reports on all of their vehicles on a desktop or mobile app.

Aside from giving fleet owners data on their vehicles and drivers, telematics systems can also be connected to in-cab driver interfaces so drivers can receive jobs, capture proof of delivery for customers, log pre-trip inspections and get real-time feedback on their driving.

Types of Telematics Hardware Devices

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

In December 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed an electronic logging device mandate requiring hours-of-service (HOS) logs to ensure that drivers are taking sufficient breaks during long trips. ELDs provide a convenient solution by automatically tracking miles driven, location data and drive time behind the wheel, making manual and paper logging a thing of the past. These logs help drivers easily follow proper safety protocols and allow fleet owners to keep track of drive time for all of their drivers, no matter where they are.


Dash cams can be seamlessly integrated with fleet management telematics systems to automatically capture clear video and images inside the cab and on the road to help managers and drivers improve safety and fleet efficiency. Many dash cams record constantly when a vehicle is in motion, and footage is available for fleet managers to view at any time.

Back-up cameras and blind spot cameras can also be used in conjunction with dash cams to provide a 360-degree view of a driver’s surroundings. This footage may be crucial in incidents of vandalism or theft, as well as when an accident occurs and proof is needed to exonerate an innocent driver.

Tire Pressure Monitors

Underinflated tires can lead to reduced tread life, poor fuel economy, tire failures and increased stopping distances. Tire pressure monitors can be installed on fleet vehicles and synced with a telematics system to provide real-time data on tire pressure and send alerts when pressure is low, eliminating the need for managers to manually keep track of tire pressure for all vehicles in their fleets.

Asset Trackers

Asset trackers allow fleet owners to track not only the locations of their vehicles but their trailers and other equipment as well. These GPS trackers provide real-time location updates of assets when they’re on and off the road and can be used to route drivers to stationary trailers. These devices can also alert managers if specific equipment is being moved when it shouldn’t be or goes outside a geofenced area.

What Types of Data can Telematics Systems Collect?

By using telematics systems, managers can get a much clearer picture of the activities of the vehicles and drivers in their fleet. Vast amounts of information can be transmitted instantly, making it easier than ever to analyze data and make business decisions and improvements to increase productivity and ensure that safety and compliance are at the forefront. Below is a quick glance at just some of the types of data a telematics system and its hardware accessories can collect.

  • Vehicle location
  • Location relative to a geofenced area
  • Vehicle speed
  • Idling time
  • Fuel consumption
  • Odometer readings
  • Brake use and harsh braking events
  • Engine oil pressure
  • Engine temperature
  • Battery voltage
  • Coolant temperature
  • Powertrain malfunctions
  • Intake valve issues
  • Oxygen sensor problems
  • Diagnostic fault codes
  • Following distance
  • Lane departure
  • Distance to other vehicles or objects
  • Dangerous acceleration and cornering incidents
  • Seat belt use
  • Driver’s reaction immediately prior to and after an incident
  • Road conditions
  • Behavior of other vehicles
  • Cargo status
  • Date, time, engine hours, vehicle miles and driver identification (via ELDs)
  • Hours-of-use data for preventive maintenance records

Telematics Solutions from Rush Truck Centers

Rush Truck Centers offers one of the most advanced telematics solutions in the industry and a complete package of telematics hardware, remote diagnostics and monitoring services through our partnership with Geotab®. We can also customize a solution for your unique fleet and business needs from our comprehensive selection of hardware parts, so you have real-time access to the data you need to take steps to optimize fleet performance.

Contact Rush Truck Centers Telematics today get started, or request a demo to see what telematics can do for your company.

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