GPS and telematics: the essentials

Technology is bringing about some big changes in the motor industry. As we move to a new era of vehicles with self-driving capabilities or systems that augment the human driver’s ability, such as autonomous braking, a host of new opportunities open up.

GPS and telematics: the essentials

Key to this, of course, is knowing where the vehicle is at all times. The Global Positioning System (GPS), run by the US government, first became available in 1995 and is what enables our satnav devices to navigate their way around. Of course, it also enables vehicle movements to be tracked. In combination with telematics systems that record information about how a vehicle is being driven, technology can open up a whole range of possibilities, some of which are already in use.

Location, location, location

Some high-end models already take advantage of GPS and telematics to make the automatic transmission change down before a hill, for example, ensuring that the car is driven efficiently and economically.

GPS and telematics: the essentials

There are advantages of this for fleet users, such as it being possible to track where all your vehicles are and seeing arrival and departure times at jobs. Holders of motor trade insurance can know instantly whether a car is on the forecourt, in the workshop, or out on a test drive. One step further than this is to apply a ‘geo-fence’ that would stop a vehicle being driven outside a specified area or during particular hours. This is something that sites online that provide motor trade insurance quotes might start insisting on in the future.

Telematics can, of course, monitor driver behaviour, enabling fleet managers to know if drivers are behaving aggressively or are not using the vehicle in the most economical way. Greater awareness of driving habits can also be used to influence driver behaviour and predict wear and tear on vehicles.


Telematics has benefits to safety from a number of angles. Crash detection can have the vehicle automatically call the emergency services in the event of a collision. The same system could also trigger the automatic saving of footage from a dashcam to be used as evidence.

In the longer term, it becomes possible for vehicles to communicate with each other and avoid collisions in the first place or to exchange information to prevent congestion by negotiating the most efficient route through a given area.