Two-Way Radio Over Cellular

T-Mobile Network Coverage for Two-way Radio over cellular POC vs PTT

Two-Way Radios Make a Comeback For Good Reason

Many service and construction companies miss the two-way radio service of the old days when Nextel push-to-talk (PTT) provided instant communication.  As a result, when Nextel PTT was no longer available, dispatchers were dismayed at being forced into expensive cell phones. The good news is…it’s back…but better.

Finally, push-to-talk is back as push-to-talk over cellular (POC). Certainly, the obvious advantage is the coverage offered by cellular carriers, and the roaming agreements between them. Instant connections between Florida and California are reliable and efficient. You can broadcast to a single person or to a large group.  In contrast, traditional two-way radios have a limited working distance.  Also, they rely upon expensive infrastructure that must be installed and maintained. With POC two-way radios, the signal is already in place and the cellular carriers maintain it.

Finally, POC is not for everyone because they don’t do everything smart devices do.  For instance, if a company uses a smart phone to collect signatures or payment in the field, a two-way radio simply won’t work. An estimated 40-50% of all cell phone users today use their expensive smart phone for simple voice communication. In these scenarios there are major benefits to switching to two-way radios over cellular networks.

Two-Way Radio Benefits

  • Low cost, flat rate monthly bill
  • Nationwide coverage
  • Instant connection
  • Works on Wi-Fi or cell network (no radio to radio direct link)
  • GPS location and history for past 24 hours
  • Voice files are stored for 24 hours for review
  • App available for Android (iOS coming)
  • Direct connect between radio, app and dispatcher software on PC
  • 2 year warranty
  • IP-55 rated radio resistant to water and dust

 

Read more about PoC Two-Way Radio

GPS Accuracy

Location Accuracy

The advertised location accuracy of most GPS trackers less than 3 meters. Accuracy can vary outside this standard deviation based on environmental factors such tree cover, tall buildings, GPS antenna used, device engineering and GPS device install location.

 

GPS-Accuracy-Comparison

Speed Accuracy

Speed accuracy is something we do not put a lot of thought into but speed accuracy can vary quite a bit. The GPS tracker and the GPS on your phone is more accurate than the speedometer on your vehicle. The older the vehicle, the less accurate the speedometer is. Speed is significantly impacted by changing the factory tire size. Wear changes the tread depth and size of a tire over time. An old tire is not as large as a new tire so the axle spins faster giving a false speed.

To determine speed accuracy from the GPS tracking map, scroll your mouse over the map route leading up to the speeding incident if you are using Geotab. Other GPS trackers will not be as accurate and do not have as much data. If the vehicle speed gradually increases, it is valid data. If the speed jumps from 40 to 85 with nothing in between, it would be difficult to hold a driver accountable for this because data is missing between these two points.

 

Posted Road Speed (PRS) Accuracy

Posted road speed varies from super accurate based on Fleetistics testing, to occasionally not so accurate. It is far more accurate than it was 5 years ago. I have driven past speed limit signs and watched the data change in Waze within feet. Generally, the more populated the area, the more accurate the data because there is a greater chance someone will submit a correction or from mapping cameras that frequent these areas more often. PRS is only as accurate as the data provided by the government, data that is submitted by citizens or AI, and the data set selected by the GPS tracking company. Cameras with artificial intelligence are helping reduce the time between a speed change, or new sign going in, and the time until it enters the data set. Citizens can submit corrections to the mapping companies which will be included fairly quickly. I submitted a road through the heart of Tucson, AZ to OpenStreetMaps and it was updated quickly which eliminated a lot of speeding exceptions. A submission to Google was live within two days. Highway speeds and primary surface roads are generally very accurate but it can vary by state.

In short, you have to validate exceptions.

 

Employees

Often times employees will claim the GPS is incorrect. Performing the two tests below will give you the confidence that the GPS is more accurate than the employees description. If you have to, do the test in the vehicle with the employee. If the GPS tracker is off, and it happens occasionally because of external factors, the deviation is typically so great it is obvious. Since 2001 Fleetistics has not seen a situation when the deviation is consistently X and you cannot tell something is wrong. The deviation is generally 30x and the vehicle plots in the ocean or 250 miles away for 1 or 2 data points, the speed goes to 321 MPH to cover this distance and then the plot comes back to the expected route. This is typical of a reflected GPS signal most often seen going under an overpass. Most of the time the GPS device filters this data because it cannot be valid. If the track follows the road, the data is accurate. Accuracy is one of Geotab’s strongest features.

 

Accuracy Testing

Below are two tests you can conduct to get a feel for the accuracy for a particular vehicle. The question is what is the business case where the accuracy is in question?

 

  1. Speed Test: Set the speed buzzer on your Geotab GPS device at 70 MPH and take a drive. Open WAZE and view the speed Waze indicates you are traveling and compare it to your speedometer. Waze will be more accurate reading because it is not impacted by tire size and other environmental factors. This will determine your speedometers margin of error. Increase your speed at a normal rate until you reach the speed set on your Geotab device. When the buzzer goes off compare it to Waze and your speedometer. You will now know the margin of error for the Geotab device in relation to your speedometer.
  2. Location Test: Park your vehicle in a particular parking space. Open Geotab, change to satellite view and see if your vehicle is plotted correctly. This will show the accuracy. Below is the picture from my truck today. It is showing the correct parking space and even the GPS being on the left side of the parking space. I would estimate this is within 2 feet of the actual GPS location inside my truck.

GO9 Technical Specifications

Speed Graph

Collision Reconstruction Limits Heartbreak Over Collision Damage

You can’t always prevent collision damage,

but you can prevent the heartbreak. Thanks in part to Geotab’s Collision Reconstruction add on, there is a happy ending to what could have been a very sad story.

I think we all have a vision of our dream car from our youth. For me it was always a little red rag-top. A couple of years ago I found her. She was a Chili Red Mini Cooper with a blue denim convertible top. Her name, chosen by her previous owner, was Rosie.

She had a lot of life left in her when I was recently hit from behind. The impact pushed me into the vehicle in front of me so I had collision damage both front and rear. As I dialed 911, I watched the other two very young drivers call their parents. Though the damage appeared superficial, my dream car was possibly going to be totaled, and ahead of me the negotiation with the insurance company loomed large.​

Accessing the Collision Reconstruction Data

The first thing I did when I got home was fire up the the computer to pull the accident data. With the collision reconstruction add on, it took just a couple of minutes.  The truth is often not exactly what we remember,and in this case, that was the case.

How could I have been so certain I was at a complete stop when I was hit from behind?  The collision reconstruction data showed I was driving 6 mph and slowing to stop. I wondered in that moment if the other drivers had similar flaws in their memory of the event. Also, the data indicated an initial accident level impact at the rear of my vehicle propelling me forward at 6:07:06 PM. Two more minor spikes on the graph indicate backward motion at about half the force of the initial impact. I suspect one of those may have been the force of my roll bar deploying.

Processing the Claim

Processing of the claim for the collision damage was somewhat slow. The insurance company had to reach all three drivers involved for their statements before they could make a determination of fault. I had advised the insurance company that I had the data and could prove exactly what happened, but they had to go through their process. Apparently the crucial information they needed from the driver in front of me, was how many impacts he heard, relative to what he felt, to verify that the rear vehicle actually hit me before I hit him. I wondered if his memory was clear on that point, but was confident the data would back me up if it was not.

Had there been any question, the G force and speed graphs above would tell the entire story. Had it ended up in litigation, the engineers at Geotab would have provided me with expert testimony in the form of a formal report explaining and validating the data from their collision reconstruction. Lucky for me, the insurance company just wrote a check to cover the collision damage.

Unfortunately,

The next day I received the dreaded call… after further review it was determined the frame was bent, and due to severe collision damage Rosie and I would not be seeing any more highway miles together. The insurance company settled, and I was off to find a new car. Knowing that I had solid facts acquired through collision reconstruction, allowed me to negotiate from a position of power, rather than accepting whatever the insurance company decided. I had a nice fat down payment in my pocket, and my former loan was paid off.

I promised a happy ending, so here it is. Not quite 2 weeks from the collision event, I was driving my new car. I could not find another Chili Red one, but British Racing Green can grow on a person. My new road pal is 2 years and 50K miles younger, has a turbo charger, and a far superior sound system. I am naming him Jack Hammer, after the salesman at the Mini dealer (I swear that is his real name).

Thanks Jack!

Thanks Geotab!

Driver Improvement Through Targeted Driver Training

Ongoing driver improvement through targeted driver training is one of the hottest trends in fleet management today.

When based on actual driving history, it is an effective tool for driver improvement. A recent article in Commercial Carrier Journal mentions the need for more targeted driver training.  The article warns that in cab alerts are distracting to the driver. Classroom trainings like those endorsed by the National Safety Council are great, and have been the standard for many years.  We teach the NSC Defensive Driving Course on a monthly basis at our own corporate office, but it takes advance planning and time off the job for drivers to attend.  Business requires something that is readily available when needed.

Over the past couple of years, 2 primary models of targeted driver self-improvement have emerged.  Not surprisingly, they are simple merit models and demerit models.

Merit vs Demerit

Examples of merit models are game apps. Driving data is converted into a score and drivers compete for recognition.  Competition is the primary motivation because it is fun, and because nobody wants to be a loser.  Adding a reward, like a cash bonus for the most improved driver, maintains interest. Clearly, competition will promote driver improvement, but is still not targeted driver training.

Demerit models look for problems and assign targeted driver training.  Specific behavior, for example speeding, results in lessons assigned to the driver on how speed can be dangerous.  This achieves driver improvement in two ways.

  1. The driver learns how speed can be a danger to himself and others through the lessons assigned.
  2. The driver doesn’t want another course assignment that he has to complete after work hours, so he changes his behavior.

The goal is to provide a custom training course based on need.  Each driver is assigned lessons based on their driving deficiencies. A program like this is often administered by the Safety Department in larger companies, but in small and medium size businesses, who is going to do all that? Many businesses would like to implement targeted driver training, but only if it is a “hands off” approach.

Predictive Coach course modules

Predictive Coach Course Modules

The Keys to Automating Driver Training

To automate the process your GPS tracking system provides the data directly to the training app.  Training content on a variety of subjects is organized into courses and lessons.  When thresholds for unwanted behavior are met, the app assigns the appropriate training to the driver.  Drivers access training from their personal devices, and no supervision is needed. Training is easy to use, interesting, and focused on driver improvement. Managers only need to be notified when drivers fail to complete the assigned courses, but they can review lessons assigned and completed if they want.

Predictive Coach meets all of the criteria.

  1. Improves driver behaviors with a data driven training program
  2. Eases the burden of safety monitoring through automation
  3. Eliminates willful negligence around driver discipline
  4. Integrates seamlessly with your Geotab tracking solution
  5. Proven to produce results through targeted driver training

Predictive Coach automated driver training has been evaluated by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is proven to reduce dangerous driver behavior.

Predictive Coach Study Improvement Graph

Individual Predictive Coach courses contain 3 to 7 individual lessons.  The lessons are automatically assigned to drivers when exceptions to rules occur.  The driving rules used are the ones you configure with tolerances you set.  Managers are notified when assigned lessons have not been completed, and they appreciate the compact dashboards and reports that are available for reviewing and comparing drivers. Drivers can complete the courses on laptop, phone or tablet from virtually anywhere.

That fits our definition – automated driver improvement through targeted driver training.

Schedule a demo to learn how Predictive Coach is affordable, easy to implement and protects your fleet and organization.

Trailer Load Balancing

Trailer Load Balancing For Safety

Trailer load balancing is important to understand because it is crucial to achieving a properly loaded trailer.  We have all seen an overloaded trailer rolling down the highway at some point. Tree trucks, roofing materials, carpets, rock or tile and large boats all come to mind for unsafe trailer loading.  Always remember, balance will make a huge difference in vehicle safety and stability and the end result is a safer, more comfortable ride.

 

Be safer by training employees to ensure properly loaded trailers.

Unbalanced loads are listed as the #3 towing risk according to the popular website How Stuff Works.  The #1 towing risk cited is swaying.  Sway primarily happens because of poor trailer load balance, so if you plan to tow, learn what you need to know about trailer load balance before you load.

 

Trailer load balance with Sherp

Fleetistics Sherp Properly Loaded on Trailer

 

This dramatic video shows the importance of properly trailer load balancing. The effect of placing the majority of the load behind the trailer axle can dramatically impact handling. One might think that putting the load forward of the trailer tires would spread the load between the trailer and the truck but the impact on steering handling is a dangerous consequence.

 

The video is great continuing education content and is only a few minutes long. It is a real eye opener to the impact of improper loading. At the same time you can review trailer inspections, tongue weight, DOT regulations and maintenance.

 

Learn more about GPS trailer tracking