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What is GPS fleet tracking?

GPS fleet tracking has evolved to become a fundamental aspect of any forward-looking commercial fleet management strategy. The data it provides empowers fleet managers across all industries to optimize their processes, create a safer working environment, and just offer an overall improved experience for customers and stakeholders.

That said, there are a few things you should know before investing in tracking GPS devices for your entire fleet. Keep reading to find out how the technology works, its potential disadvantages, and points to consider as you evaluate your options.

And when you finish, check out the other articles in our ‘Specialized fleet tracking solutions’ series:

What is GPS tracking for fleets?

GPS fleet tracking is a technology solution that involves installing GPS tracking devices in company-owned fleet vehicles to monitor their location, movement, and other driving metrics in real time. The fleet software often integrates with telematics systems and fleet management platforms to connect vehicle data with dispatching, finance, warehouse management, and other back-office functions.

Fleet tracking offers many possibilities for reducing costs, improving productivity, and increasing customer satisfaction. For instance, users can set geofences and alerts for speeding, unauthorized usage, or other issues requiring immediate attention. And service is improved by arming call center and service employees with accurate ETAs based on real time GPS data.

Overall, fleet tracking brings accountability, efficiency and transparency to mobile workforce management. In essence, it provides crucial data needed by fleet operators to keep their daily operations running smoothly.

How does GPS fleet tracking work?

Fleet tracking leverages onboard GPS devices installed in fleet vehicles that transmit time-stamped location data to a central, cloud-based software platform via cellular connectivity.

The fleet tracking software then translates the GPS coordinates into useful visibility. Maps and dashboards show the real time location and status of fleet vehicles, provide accurate ETAs to customers, and enable vehicle reporting and alerts. Managers can analyze data for route planning, leverage acceleration, speeding and idling metrics to coach drivers, automate compliance reporting, and more.

Features like geofencing, safety monitoring, and maintenance tracking help fleet owners avoid unpleasant surprises. And seamless integrations with common fleet management technologies facilitate insights into further optimization opportunities.

Leading providers offer flexible plans to equip a range of vehicle fleets with reliable, enterprise-grade GPS tools. With many offerings suited even for smaller budgets, modern fleet tracking delivers an attractive ROI in various industries from transportation to public works.

The legality of GPS fleet tracking is one of the biggest concerns fleet managers have. The most important thing to remember as far as the legality of GPS fleet tracking is that it’s legal for the owner of the vehicle to track their own automobiles. Employers need consent from employees to track vehicles that aren’t company-owned.

What are the different types of tracking devices?

There are four main types of GPS fleet tracking devices. The four types of GPS tracking devices are personal trackers, asset trackers, cell-based GPS trackers, and satellite-based GPS tracking.

What are the benefits?

Major benefits to companies from GPS fleet tracking include:

  • Increased workforce productivity
  • Lower fuel and insurance costs from less speeding and idling
  • Accountability for proper labor billing of site calls
  • Reduced unauthorized vehicle use
  • Swift recovery of lost or stolen vehicles.
  • Higher profit margins per vehicle
  • Improved driver safety
  • A better customer experience

GPS fleet tracking has evolved from basic location pings to becoming an integral management tool for transportation companies, mobile repair services, public works agencies and commercial sales fleets.

Is GPS fleet tracking the same as fleet dispatching? 

It’s easy to confuse fleet dispatching for fleet tracking. Fleet dispatching mostly refers to the act of setting drivers up with vehicles and tasks. Tracking entails using technology to maintain real-time status updates of vehicles and equipment. 

What GPS tracking hardware can be supplied?

There are multiple types of GPS tracking hardware that can be supplied to managers. They include GPS plug-ins, hardwired devices, and battery-operated equipment.

Example of GPS fleet tracking

GPS fleet tracking is essential for a number of reasons. Let’s say a fleet manager is hoping to find out where a certain truck is regarding its maintenance history. GPS fleet tracking capabilities would allow a fleet manager to receive real-time engine diagnostic updates. Some GPS fleet tracking programs provide fleet managers with automated alerts whenever a need for maintenance arises. This helps fleet managers make sure their vehicles are always in great shape.

Things to consider

There are numerous aspects of GPS fleet tracking that could slip the mind of someone unfamiliar with the concept. Some of those factors include:


Coverage is crucial when deciding on a GPS fleet tracking device. The more coverage options a GPS fleet tracker has, the easier it is for drivers to stay connected. GPS fleet tracking devices with multiple coverage options allow drivers to stay connected, even outside of cellular and satellite coverage. 

Battery life

A GPS fleet tracking device’s battery life is essential to its overall ability to help fleet managers track vehicles. That’s especially the case when drivers are out on the road for extended amounts of time. Assessing a GPS fleet tracker’s battery life, along with alternative options for charging like portable power banks is a must.

Mobile app

Another important factor to consider when choosing a GPS fleet tracking device is whether or not it has its own standalone app. GPS fleet tracking devices that don’t have their own fleet tracking devices typically lack key features like geofencing and battery life updates. 


The size of the GPS fleet tracking device is an aspect that many fleet managers overlook. Its size is important because if it’s too big, it could be difficult if not impossible for the driver to place it in a convenient location.

Customer support

Whenever there’s an issue with the GPS tracking device, fleet managers should be able to rely on a customer support team to provide actionable, helpful insights. The ability to call upon the support team of the GPS tracking device of your choice is an incredible asset that can’t be overlooked.

Advantages of GPS fleet tracking

The advantages of GPS fleet tracking are clear. They include improved safety measures for drivers, along with increased productivity. GPS tracking also makes theft recovery easier for fleet managers. There are multiple ways GPS helps keep spending under control, too. It does so by tracking maintenance, making it easier to perform preventative maintenance and by reducing fuel costs by optimizing routes.

Disadvantages of GPS fleet tracking

Even though the benefits of GPS fleet tracking are clear, it does have its downsides. One of the cons of GPS fleet tracking include a lack of morale from drivers who may not appreciate the feeling of having a superior over their shoulder while driving. Another is that it could become a distraction for drivers.

GPS fleet tracking vs vehicle tracking

GPS fleet tracking entails tracking multiple vehicles that are a part of the same fleet. Vehicle tracking is the act of tracking one singular vehicle using GPS. One of the best ways to maintain an understanding of fleet management concepts is to visit the Motive website.

Optimize your operations with fleet tracking GPS devices

GPS fleet tracking is an essential resource for fleet managers seeking to maximize time and budget. There are numerous aspects that should be considered before deciding on a GPS tracking system. From analytics reporting to real-time location updates, there are a myriad of ways the ideal GPS fleet tracking program can help fleet managers.


How much does fleet GPS cost?

Fleet GPS costs vary widely depending on the size of the fleet, type of hardware, and software features. Basic options start around $20 per vehicle per month, but more advanced options can run over $40 per month. Upfront hardware fees typically cost about $100 per vehicle.

How do I track my fleet vehicle?

The most common way to track a fleet vehicle is with a plug-in GPS tracker device or in-vehicle telematics system. The equipment uses cellular and GPS signals to transmit real-time location data to a fleet tracking software platform. Dispatchers and managers can then access this data through web or mobile apps.

How accurate is GPS vehicle tracking?

The accuracy of GPS vehicle tracking is generally within 5-10 yards, which is sufficient for most fleet management purposes. Obstructions like tall buildings or trees and technical factors like device quality can impact accuracy.

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