Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Your Last Text...Texting While Driving

Take out your wireless device. Read the last text message you received out loud. Would reading or responding to that text message from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle be worth the risk of getting into a car accident or worse? Chances are, the text message could wait. In today's 24/7/365 world, staying connected is no longer an option. It's a necessity. With a tenfold increase in text messaging over the last three years according to CTIA — The Wireless Association, there is no question that texting is increasingly becoming the way many communicate today. And, for many, the allure to quickly read and respond — even from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle — can be tempting. But texting and driving is dangerous. FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 106A-117 of the U.S. Copyright Law. This video was produced by PicVid Productions Re-posted by Vincent Rush of Lynx Telematics in Cincinnati Ohio. Lynx Telematics is the developer of the Lynxsafe Teen Driving Monitor that allows parents of teen drivers to eliminate texting and driving by their teen drivers while at the same time, ensuring safe driving habits by monitoring speed, seat belt usage, driving habits and mechanical failures. If you're a concerned parent of a teen driver and would like more information on the LynxSafe Teen Driving Monitor by Lynx Telematics, that eliminates Texting and Driving, Speeding, Distracted Driving and monitors seat belt usage, mechanical failures and allows a parent to set up geo fencing, please contact Vincent Rush of Lynx Telematics at or directly at (513) 965-6318 For more information, contact Vincent Rush at or (513) 965-6318

Monday, August 20, 2012

Taxes, Lawsuits & Telematics: Savings through Documentation

From fuel tax rebates to IFTA calculations and beyond, the proof is in the telematics data  

By Bud Sims
Director of Construction and Mining

Every contractor knows the value of telematics for squeezing waste out of fleet operations, but there’s more to the savings story than improving asset allocation, optimizing preventive maintenance scheduling, or identifying wasteful fuel and/or idling practices. In a series of benefits unrelated to fleet management, telematics systems can also help maximize off-road fuel tax reimbursements, streamline IFTA filings and other regulatory reporting, combat idling penalties, and even thwart lawsuits for breaching the boundaries of a job site. 

The reason is simple: data.

In a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone scenario, the same data collected to deliver core telematics functionality also supplies a complete audit trail of equipment utilization by location. Built-in telematics capabilities such as GPS asset tracking and geofencing that defines the perimeter of each job site or work zone combine to provide detailed documentation that is difficult or in some cases impossible to acquire from any other source.

That documentation problem recently cost one California contractor nearly $4,000 in quarterly off-road fuel tax credits for clear fuel used across its 200-machine fleet. The State Board of Equalization rejected the firm’s rebate request because it was based on a guesstimate of the fleet’s off-highway use. With no way to prove the amount of fuel qualifying for the 18-cent-per-gallon diesel rebate, the contractor came up empty-handed.

With telematics, that proof would have been available with a few clicks, and the firm would have added $4,000 to its bottom line.

Data needed for this and other non-operations-related purposes can be quickly retrieved from standard or custom telematics reports, or automatically exported to third-party services that specialize in various types of government claims filing. This saves time, eliminates guesswork, and provides irrefutable evidence of how equipment was used in the field for various tax, regulatory and legal applications.

1 – Off-road fuel tax rebates
As just mentioned, for example, telematics data facilitates tax refund or credit requests for undyed fuel that is used off-highway. Contractors are entitled to reimbursements of up to 35 cents per gallon, depending on the state, because off-road use does not contribute to the costs of planning, constructing and maintaining publicly funded roadways for which fuel taxes are earmarked. But many firms do not even try to recoup these costs because they lack easily accessible information on off-road use, the reporting is too onerous to justify the effort or both.

Telematics solves the problem with site utilization reports that show precisely where each asset is deployed and for how long, leveraging the geofencing feature of the telematics system. The total off-road time for any given quarter can be calculated by adding the hours of all construction equipment on all job sites. Third-party fuel management systems that quantify fuel burn can further validate the calculations.

In addition, advanced telematics systems that track both on-and off-road vehicle use in the same application can compute off-road use of on-road vehicles such as generators and telephone repair trucks by monitoring functions like PTO and hydraulics. With this capability, you can augment the size of your rebate by ensuring that every asset involved in off-road activities is included in the calculation.

2 – IFTA mileage tax reporting 
For contractors that cross state lines in moving equipment from job to job, another tax-related use for telematics involves the compilation of quarterly IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) reports designed to ensure that each state receives its proper share of taxes for miles traveled on its roads. Since these reports require information on mileage driven in each jurisdiction, it is necessary to know that your low-beds traveled 500 miles in California and 250 miles in Arizona (or whatever) for the quarter.

This information can be easily determined from the data captured by the GPS-based telematics tracking devices installed in each asset. The raw telematics data can be delivered electronically to your firm’s third-party IFTA tax service for processing and report preparation, eliminating the need to maintain and share trip sheets. This reduces overhead for drivers as well as clerical staff, prevents manual recording or data entry errors, provides an auditable data trail, and streamlines IFTA reporting overall.

3 – Idling penalty avoidance 
In the more than 30 states with anti-idling policies on the books, telematics data can also help keep the idling ‘police’ at bay by monitoring equipment idle times. In California, for example, idling a diesel-powered machine for more than five minutes can cost $300 per occurrence or up to $10,000 for a machine with multiple violations. Having the data to nip the problem in the bud, or fight an undeserved penalty, can help avoid fines as well as trim fuel expenses.

One source of this information is the telematics dashboard. Typically, idling rates can be seen in real time across the entire fleet and flagged with visual indicators when levels exceed user-defined thresholds. Some dashboards also allow users to dynamically drill down to idle activity by vehicle. If there is a spotter enforcing anti-idling regulations on the job site, the job foreman or other personnel can use this information to intercede before excessive idle times lead to a fine.

Longer-term idling patterns can be seen in telematics idle reports that document idle start and end times, duration and location for each asset. This information can be used to modify operator behavior and avoid future penalties.

4 – Lawsuit protection 
Another area where telematics data can save contractors money above and beyond core fleet management functions involves averting fines and lawsuits associated with violations of leaseholder or government boundaries. In one recent case, for example, a mining operation was fined more than $2 million over a two-month period for inadvertently digging outside its leased property line. In other situations, contractors are subject to reprisals for infringing on environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands located adjacent to or even within a job site. 

Telematics-based geofencing can save the day by making it possible to issue an alert if a forbidden boundary is crossed. Geofences can be established around a job site, work zone or within a larger geofence if an off-limits area lies within the work site. Geofence reports can also defend a contractor against unjustified trespassing accusations by proving that equipment operators did not cross invisible boundary lines.   

Capabilities like these can substantially extend the value of a telematics investment by reducing tax and regulatory paperwork, lowering the risk of penalties and fines, and even creating revenue from off-road fuel tax rebates. It’s not the primary driver behind a telematics deployment, but it’s a major fringe benefit that can reduce the cost of doing business and – in some cases – keep contractors out of trouble.

Insurance telematics could "flip the underwriting model on its head"!

Your insurance provider may soon be asking for access to your telematics data. What’s in it for you?
By: James Menzies of “Truck News” 2012-08-20 

Insurance brokers and providers may soon be asking fleets for access to their telematics data, in an effort to provide more accurate insurance pricing and to help fleets better utilize that data.
It’s a bold new approach that’s already happening in other parts of the world, including Europe and Australia. Here in Canada, Industrial Alliance made waves earlier this year, when it launched a program in Quebec that allowed young drivers to install data recorders in their car and then pay premiums based on their specific driving habits.

Truck News has learned that the concept – sometimes referred to as Pay How You Drive or Pay As You Drive – will soon be rolled out to the Canadian trucking industry. Insurers realize telematics provides the basis for a more accurate means of underwriting risk. Today, brokers and insurers collect the same old data (such as CVOR and CSA scores as well as a five-year claims history) to determine premiums. But insurers have come to realize that basing premiums on past claims isn’t the best way to do things. For starters, it doesn’t address those fleets that employ risky drivers but have avoided accidents through sheer luck.

Using telematics, insurance providers will be able to identify risky driving behavior that will most likely result in accident over time and can push a fleet to intervene with offending drivers and address unsafe behavior before that accident occurs. Insurers who tap into their customers’ telematics data will be looking for information on speed, hard braking, abrupt lane changes and rapid acceleration, among other risky behaviors.

“From an underwriting standpoint, it flips the underwriting model on its head,” Scott Cober, vice-president, national leader with Marsh Canada’s trucking practice told Truck News in an interview. “It becomes more of a predictive underwriting model.”

At the very least, using telematics to determine insurance pricing will allow insurers to charge premiums that better reflect a fleet’s likelihood of being involved in a crash. But ideally, insurance providers will use that valuable information to alert a fleet to worrisome trends and encourage interventions before such accidents even occur.

“Fleet insurance underwriters currently review driver abstracts for tickets and look at accidents to assess a high-risk driver in the fleet,” Cober explained. “A fleet’s risky drivers may not be the ones with tickets or accidents, but those who are trending towards bad behaviors on the road – making unsafe lane changes, cornering at high speeds, etc. These drivers are potentially your future accidents and claims. The driver behavior data (collected through telematics) will help safety managers prevent accidents before they happen.”

In most cases, insurers will be able to tap into data collected by existing and widely used telematics systems. Other programs may encourage fleets to invest in specific real-time monitoring and coaching systems such as those that alert drivers to risky behaviors in the cab as they occur, while also sending reports to the fleet manager. Some “Live View” systems feature an in-cab camera that captures video of what transpired in the moments immediately before and after a risky maneuver occurred. In-cab camera technology provides insurers with a useful tool when trying to reconstruct an accident or determine who was at fault.

“We’re using that not only as a behavioral tool, but as a claims tool,” Cober said. “For the first time, we’re gaining insight into what happened and we’re seeing drivers become exonerated from the claim. I think video is going to have a fundamental change on the whole claims process. A fleet can say ‘My driver wasn’t at fault, he was cut off by this driver,’ and on the reverse side, he may know the driver was at fault right away and from the insurance standpoint we can set the reserve up and get ready to pay the claim.”

Some fleets, naturally, will be reluctant to share their telematics data with their insurer. But insurance companies insist fleets have plenty to gain by doing so. This applies both to safe fleets (because they’ll pay premiums that better reflect the skills of their driving force) as well as unsafe fleets (because their insurer will work with them to identify unsafe practices and provide corrective training measures proactively).

“The safest fleets are already being very proactive and are more advanced than the other fleets,” Cober said. “But if you have claims, there’s an issue with your drivers on the road. Fleets that want to improve and become more efficient will turn to technology. To be competitive in this marketplace going forward, those fleets are going to have to do this.”

It’s likely that such programs will be voluntarily, at least initially. But don’t rule out the possibility of an insurance provider requiring the use of telematics for fleets with frequent claims.

“I can see possibly in the future, if a fleet cannot control its claims, that an insurer will say ‘We will insure you, but you need to put these measures in’,” Cober predicted. “I can see insurers using that as an underwriting tool.”

Zurich’s Magi says fleets she has spoken to about sharing their telematics data have so far been receptive, though she is quick to point out Zurich insures mostly large fleets with high US exposure, and the majority of those carriers already employ and understand the benefits of collecting and analyzing telematics data.

“I have never had a customer say ‘I’m not giving you the data you need’,” Magi said. “If anything, they’re asking ‘How can you help me analyze this information so I can utilize it better?’ What telematics does is it gives you a granular view of what’s happening with each particular driver and vehicle on a daily basis. You’re going to see a picture there. Insurers are going to see there is something there and it’s to the customer’s benefit to be able to speak with an educated risk services representative who’s going to be able to dig deeper and find out where the big issues are.”

Eventually, insurance providers may look to provide insight into the operational side of a fleet’s business, in ways that extend beyond managing driver behavior. As an example, Magi foresees an opportunity to assist with route planning. Insurers may look at a carrier’s lanes and then suggest a route that avoids litigious states or areas where there are weather-related risks at certain times of the year. Carriers would then be faced with the decision of taking the most direct route and possibly paying a higher premium, or a safer route that will provide insurance savings. All this while meeting the demands of the shipper, which in many cases will be looking for the most expedient delivery of its goods.

“Ideally in the future the technology will get to a point where you look at ‘What is the safest route to get to a point?’ and there’s a charge for that,” Magi said. “If you (as an insurance company) have a true partnership with a customer, you’re going to sit down together and talk about this from a pure business perspective. What is the cost-benefit analysis for your operation to take this particular route versus the potential loss if you take a different route? It factors into their deductible. There are going to be customers that are going to be absolutely operations-minded and some customers will look at route utilization with a holistic approach as to how it’s going to affect their insurance.”

Magi noted insurance, in many cases, is a carrier’s third largest expense and so she expects fleets will be willing to alter their routes to lower costs.

Proponents of insurance telematics insist the data that’s collected and shared will always belong to the carrier.

“This isn’t about Zurich going in and mining information from the customers,” Magi stressed. “The customers can share this information with us if they choose to. Ideally, the purpose of what we’re trying to do is to show them how to better utilize that particular data.”

There are privacy issues, as well, to consider. Cober noted Canada’s stringent privacy laws mean insurers won’t be drilling down to assess drivers on an individual basis, but will be looking at a company’s fleet-wide performance.

“Because of the privacy laws, we are saying to trucking companies “You supply the data to your insurer in a condensed manner without giving driver names, without giving vehicle numbers, just give a holistic view of how the fleet is doing,’ and we’ll take that monthly or quarterly and what we want to see is continuous improvement,” he explained. “Canada has some pretty tough privacy rules.”

While fleet managers may see the benefit in participating in a telematics-based Pay How You Drive-type system, drivers themselves may be more resistant. Cober insisted the systems endorsed by insurers will be sophisticated enough to account for false alerts caused by other motorists.

“We know things happen on the road and it’s going to be quite common to have errors because of third-parties cutting in front (of the truck),” Cober said. He suggested fleets employing driver behavior monitoring use it to reward the best drivers rather than installing the systems for strictly punitive or corrective reasons.

“If it’s seen as a penalty or Big Brother, I think the safety culture of the company won’t flourish,” he noted. “It needs to be promoted as positive reinforcement for the drivers and to reward drivers for good behavior.”

Regardless of how drivers and fleet owners feel about sharing telematics data with their insurer, it seems inevitable. Canada is late to the party, but globally the auto insurance industry is already moving in this direction.

An Oliver Wyman Financial Services report, titled Uneven Road Ahead: Telematics Poised to Reshape Auto Industry, concluded: “As technology costs fall, privacy concerns recede and regulations become more supportive, telematics is fast moving into the mainstream and will fundamentally disrupt the auto insurance business. The threat to late adopters is real: better drivers will enroll in telematics programs, leaving behind a shrinking pool of poorer risks to the traditional insurers.”

The same could be said for trucking companies.

Cober noted that by 2017, it’s expected that new vehicles manufactured in North America will come equipped with some form of telematics hardware already installed, “making the insurance telematics process easier for consumers who may be confused on what actual hardware is required in their vehicle.”

Another objection likely to be faced by insurers is the cost of implementing the necessary technology, particularly for smaller fleets that don’t already employ some form of telematics. But Cober said the cost of the technology is rapidly dropping and the potential savings extend beyond lower insurance costs, delivering a quick payback.

“Traditionally, only the big fleets could afford the technology. But because the technology costs have been dropping, we’re beginning to see the middle market fleets – the fleets with 10-50 power units – can now afford this technology and can see the return on investment,” he said.

Because telematics can improve driver behavior and address bad habits like rapid acceleration and hard braking as well as speeding, Cober said many fleets are realizing fuel savings of 5-10% when employing a telematics system that monitors driver behavior.

“We’re seeing fleets that in the first three to six months, are seeing their investment returned,” Cober said.

And for fleets that proactively monitor and address poor driving habits, the insurance savings will also be tangible, he noted. While premium reductions are generally a reward for lower claims costs achieved over a period of time, Cober said it’s possible insurers will provide some up-front savings for fleets that enroll in a telematics program.

And when fleets discover the additional savings that are achievable by analyzing their telematics data with some help from their insurance provider, Magi said the idea will become an easier sell.
“At the end of the day, really, they’re truckers,” she said. “They want to be able to move freight and run their business. They’re not actuaries that deal with statistics. If we can provide them with the tools and solutions that make it easier for them to very quickly analyze (data) and see a problem, we’ve done them a huge benefit but we’ve also done our bottom line a benefit as well.”

- The above feature article appears in the September issues of Truck News and Truck West

Re-posted by Vincent Rush of VP of Business Development for Lynx Telematics.

Lynx Telematics is a Cincinnati based OEM of Telematic technology and provider of the Geo Tab product along with patented “Anti Texting and Web Browsing” technology for fleet based companies.

Lynx Telematics is also the innovator and pioneer of the Lynx Safe Teen Driving Monitor that grants parents real-time data on their teenagers driving habits while blocking and disabling texting and driving.

For more information, contact Vincent Rush at (513) 965-6318 or by email at

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lynx Telematics Signs Another Major Contract

Lynx Telematics, in Cincinnati, Ohio recently has signed a deal to partner and provide services to an industrial company that employs a fleet of more than 700 trucks and is the number 3 company in their industry.

It was learned through conversations after the decision had been made to work exclusively with Lynx Telematics, that this was the 4th test pilot that the company had been through over the past 3 years.
The reasons sited for making their decision were the complexity and robustness of the solutions we provided as well as the customer service and attention to detail that we demonstrated while servicing the test pilot program.

Vice President of Business Development, Vincent Rush, who handled the account from inception to delivery, explains the process and what led to the acquisition;

We began by picking a total of 16 large box trucks in two different locations.
Location A had 9 trucks on pilot while location B had 7.

Before we began stage one, we crafted a team “Roll Out” letter to the employees explaining the purpose installing this technology.

We called the program “The Safe Driving and Operational Efficiency Program”. One of the problems with many telematics projects, is failure to properly implement the program. That not only takes into consideration the explanation of why, but when, how and the name of the project.

The main objectives of the program were, safety compliance, reduction in fuel consumption, lowering insurance costs and allowing drivers to earn more through improved route efficiency.

The telematics landscape is littered with programs gone wrong, due to an improper roll out with unclear expectations.

When dealing with employees, it is very important to make sure team members see the project as a good thing for the company and not a “Covert Spying Project”.

This has always been one of our specialties and what differentiates us from many of our competitors.
There is a big difference in building a successful and sustainable telematics company and simply selling telematics devices.

Phase 1 of our program consisted of setting up our “plug and play” system in the trucks and then monitoring and collecting data for the Operations Manager for a period of 2 weeks.

During this time period we focused on idling time and discovered that each truck would idle an average of 8:30 per stop or an average of 7 hours per week, per truck.

It was during this phase that we were able to show, that by getting control of the idling time, we could reduce the company’s annual fuel expense of approximately $9 Million dollars by a conservative $720,840, using just one element of savings.

In phase two we split the locations and the fleet into two separate groups.

One with audible alerts for idling over 3 minutes and the other location, with only 6 trucks, without audible alerts.

The results were staggering!!!!

Location 1 accumulated a total of 280.5 hours with 9 trucks for an average of 1:52 per stop, while Location 2 with 3 fewer trucks, totaled 592 hours for an average of 6:12 per stop.

We were able to show our client an estimated annual savings in fuel expense, based on idling alone, of $902,415 or roughly 10% of their annual fuel budget.

We didn’t stop there.

The next phase of our test pilot was a meeting with their insurance company.
Not only did we get a verbal estimate of $75,000 dollars in annual savings, we received an endorsement from the company as well.

With an additional estimated savings of $129,600 in maintenance expenses we were able to show our client a projected annual savings of $1.1 million or $3.3 over the next 3 years.

Sure, these numbers are great and alone they should be enough to help any company pull the trigger on making the investment into telematics.

We also added the ability to monitor texting and driving through our partnership with ZoomSafer. In fact, 3 days before our final meeting, one of the company drivers was ticketed for texting while driving.

However, for a company that has been down the road with 3 other test pilots, all lasting 90-120 days, the real thing that sealed the deal, after only 52 days, was our level of customer service and attention to detail for the client.

Lynx Telematics did not simply install a bunch of units and accumulate data for us”
commented the company Fleet Operations Manager. “They actually took personal responsibility and helped us manage and understand what the data was telling us.”

Lynx also monitored our fleets ECM data and alerted us to possible mechanical issues as they were happening. That alone saved us thousands in productivity and lost product.”

“When I wanted reports or samples of data, my Account Manager, Vincent Rush, didn’t just email it to me, he hand delivered it and explained how the data was presented. They were the most thorough company we had tested.”

“What has really impressed us to this point is that now that we are partnered with Lynx, we are still getting help and attention, like we did in the testing phase. Very impressive level of service from a telematics company”

For more information or an analysis on how Lynx Telematics can help your company fleet reduce operating expenses, improve safety compliance and productivity while reducing risk liability, contact Vincent Rush at (513) 965-6318 or

Monday, August 6, 2012

Crash survivor preaches dangers of texting while driving

By Ron Recinto | The Lookout – Fri, Aug 3, 2012

Chance Bothe knows firsthand the dangers of texting and driving.

The Texas man typed this message to a friend while driving home from college earlier this year, “I need to quit texting because I could die in a car accident and then how would you feel …”

A few seconds later, Bothe’s pickup veered off a bridge and dropped down a 35-foot-deep ravine.
KHOU-TV reports he suffered extensive injuries including a broken neck, a punctured lung, and a fractured face, which would later require extensive reconstruction. He had to learn to walk again, the station reports.

“I’m very lucky that I’m not gone forever,” Bothe, 21, told KHOU-TV on his last day of a six-month rehabilitation in Houston. “I still have things to do in this world.”

One of the first things he’s doing is spreading the word of the dangers of texting and driving.

“They just need to understand, don’t do it. Don’t do it. It’s not worth losing your life,” he said. “I went to my grandmother’s funeral not long ago. And I kept thinking, it kept jumping into my head: ‘I’m surprised that’s not me in that casket.’ I came very close to that. To being gone forever.”

Texting while driving is banned in 39 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Texas does not have a statewide ban on texting while driving. However texting while driving is banned in some municipalities and school zones in the state.

Bothe promised to spread the word about the dangers of texting while behind the wheel so that others can learn from his mistake.

“What people have told me is the reason God didn’t keep you away from this Earth is because you have something special to do,” he told KHOU. And I believe what is special is that I should tell everyone not to text message and drive.”

Re-posted by Vincent Rush of Lynx Telematics