A Guide to GPS Fleet Tracking for your Texas-based Fleet

April 27, 2021

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Key Takeaways

GPS tracking is a necessity for Texas-based fleets, both to remain compliant with federal laws and to improve your fleet management. With the right GPS fleet tracking solution, you can stay ELD and IFTA-compliant while receiving benefits including better routing, cost savings, and customer satisfaction.

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Whether your route takes you from Dallas to Houston or across state and even national borders, trucking in Texas requires more than just a knowledge of the road. Texas has special considerations when it comes to federal regulations and more road than any other state, but with the right GPS fleet tracking solution, you can not only efficiently and effectively meet those requirements, you can go beyond them with advanced fleet management benefits. Read on to learn how GPS tracking can improve your Texas-based fleet’s productivity and compliance.

What is GPS fleet tracking?

GPS tracking devices are one of the more popular types of tracking systems available to businesses and consumers today. Put simply, a GPS tracker is a device that uses the Global Positioning System to determine and track the location of its carrier (typically a vehicle or person). This enables location data to be collected and displayed on a map which can then be used to locate something. For fleets, this most often refers to either vehicle tracking—where the tracking device is attached to one of your company vehicles—or asset tracking—which tracks powered assets like reefers and unpowered assets like containers.

Which Texas regulations need a GPS tracking solution?

For Texas-based fleets, there are two notable regulations that require some sort of GPS tracking. The first one is the ELD requirement from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which requires that you use an electronic logging device (ELD) for time tracking to ensure that your drivers aren’t going over maximum consecutive hours of service (HOS). To stay compliant, your company vehicles must be fitted with ELDs to prove that your drivers are staying within mandated HOS regulations.

This federal law applies to Texas-based businesses, but there are some differences. For intrastate fleets, the HOS restrictions differ, with drivers being allowed to drive for more than 12 hours but no longer than 15 hours after 8 consecutive hours off-duty. There are also some Texas-specific exemptions to the ELD mandate for certain types of vehicles, including:

  • Vehicles used in oil or water well servicing or drilling. This applies to specialty vehicles that  are constructed to consist of a mast, an engine for power, a draw works, and a chassis permanently (generally speaking).

  • Mobile cranes. These are self-propelled vehicles are constructed to raise, shift, or lower weights.

  • Vehicles transporting seed cotton or cotton.

  • Concrete pumps.

In Texas, drivers transporting agricultural commodities in certain scenarios also fall under HOS exemption. Exemptions apply when a driver is transporting  agricultural commodities intrastate within a 150 air-mile radius of the source of the commodities or the distribution point for the farm supplies during planting and harvesting seasons

The second notable regulation is the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) which requires that any vehicles that travel between two states or provinces within the United States and Canada have to pay fuel usage taxes based on miles traveled in each state. Texas requires that all interstate transit that takes place within the state—highway and off-highway—are reported as taxable miles for each trip, because unlike some states, they do not accept annual filings. An advanced fleet management solution with a GPS tracker will let you keep track of your vehicles’ mileage during the Texas-based leg of the journey, making it easier to track and report for more accurate IFTA payments.

Why is GPS fleet tracking so important to fleet management?

With 315,445 miles of public roads—by far the most of any state, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)—fleet management is especially challenging in Texas. Even intrastate transit can be hard to route and track, and with all of that open road, Texas-based fleets need that much more equipment. This is why smart GPS trackers are so vital in Texas beyond just staying compliant.

The right GPS trackers offer a number of fleet management benefits, including:

  • Optimized routing: Fleet managers can make better dispatching decisions with GPS tracking that shows which driver is closest and most suited for the job site. Certain GPS tracking solutions, like Samsara’s, even provide route optimization tools with real-time GPS tracking, advanced analytics, and intuitive reports, so your managers can pick the routes that avoid slowdowns and improve fuel efficiency.

  • All-in-one fleet management solution: For more complex operations that require a higher-level view of the fleet to consolidate providers, GPS trackers that work with fleet management software can give you the insights you need. By consolidating your data into a single view, you are empowered to manage multiple tasks, including equipment and vehicle tracking, safety solutions, and fleet visibility.

  • Remote co-location: For Texas field services, the time it takes to respond to an incident can mean the difference between fixing a small issue or a large disaster. In a state as large as Texas, you need a solution that lets field managers plot which of your drivers are the closest to the work site and find the quickest route there.

  • Improved security: GPS trackers can ensure that your vehicles and powered and unpowered assets are where they are supposed to be, and if your tracker includes geofence capabilities, you can receive notifications via email, SMS, or messages on your dashboard whenever any part of your fleet leaves a pre-designated area.

  • Satisfied customers: Considering how large Texas is, transportation from one end of the state to the other can take a while, so letting your customers know where your vehicle is on the route in real time can offer peace of mind and a better customer experience.

What should your Texas-based fleet look for in a GPS tracker?

Texas is a unique state with industries that come with their own unique hazards, which is a big reason why Liberty Oilfield Services trusted Samsara with their GPS tracking needs. With over 1,250 vehicles and 2,100 drivers, they needed a telematics and safety solution that could support and scale their growing business while streamlining HOS, open API integrations, and custom idle reports. According to Liberty, they chose Samsara because it offered precise GPS tracking to eliminate inaccurate IFTA reporting and simplified ELD compliance. As part of a comprehensive vehicle telematics solution, Samsara also offered additional benefits to help them protect their assets and coach and train their drivers.

If you’re looking for a GPS fleet tracking solution, here are some things to consider:

  • Quality of location data: Would your asset inventory benefit from real-time equipment tracking or is a single location ping every five to ten minutes sufficient? Additionally, would it be helpful to have the option to switch between real-time or interval alerts?

  • Connectivity type: With 4G LTE cellular connectivity operating at ten times the speed of 3G, can your business do more with quicker tracking?

  • Ease of use: How straightforward is the asset tracking dashboard, and will it require a heavy-lift to onboard and train employees to use it?

  • Customer support: What level of customer service will your team require? Is it important for your team to have access to a team via a mobile device, mobile app, or digital help desk?

  • Ease of install: How seamless will the install process be for your fleet? Will it require hiring additional people or new resources?

What benefits do Samsara’s GPS solutions offer?

At Samsara, we say that we’ve put together a fleet management platform that lets you focus on growing your business. Our GPS trackers offer improved efficiency, combining real-time GPS with weather and traffic data so that you will be able to deliver the best experience for your customers. This fleet optimization—along with benefits like in-device WiFi, fuel management monitoring, and vehicle diagnostics—are designed to save you money and hassle. And this is all just the beginning.

Samsara GPS tracking is part of a connected telematics solution that offers real-time visibility into fleet operations with an integrated connected driver workflow for ease of use and scale,   geofence functionality for added vehicle security, and is an FMCSA-registered ELD for ELD compliance. Plus, the Samsara GPS system can combine real-time tracking with Samsara AI Dash Cams to help you make informed decisions to build a smarter fleet.

Want additional information about how Samsara GPS tracking can help your fleet? Reach out for a free trial today to learn more about how Samsara can help your fleet be more sustainable, safe, and efficient.

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