Truck tracking technologies can benefit drivers as much as fleet managers, Jim Feenstra, Penske Truck Leasing vp of marketing told Fleet Owner. Feenstra outlined three advantages it provides drivers: safety, paperwork reduction and enabling managers to reward good behavior.

Penske Truck Leasing implements tracking technology on fleets linked to Penske Precision Plus— a service that allows managers to monitor engine performance and location of trucks in real-time. However, the company is concerned that potential privacy issues that may dampen drivers’ attitudes toward the technology.

To address safety issues, Feenstra said the Precision Plus’s ability to send text messages between the driver and dispatcher, coupled with GPS tracking, means that drivers are well-equipped to communicate all pertinent information to fleet managers in the event of an emergency.

“At the end of the day if there’s a breakdown, the driver could quickly tell the dispatcher the problem and location,” Feenstra said.

In addition, the service can automate daily driver logs, thus eliminating that burden so that drivers can “focus on driving.”

“From a productivity side, it takes away from painful paperwork,” Feenstra said.

Feenstra points to instances where the service allows good managers to help drivers improve— using the system either as a training tool and as a basis for a performance-based rewards system.

“Some [managers] could use this as a reward and recognition capability to set up performance criteria. The great thing about the system is that it’s very fact orientated,” Feenstra said.

Feenstra pointed to instances where managers can use the data to compensate good drivers based on their effectiveness “as opposed to hours or mileage.”

“We had an instance with a company that the driver and fleet manager went over the data and found the driver was over-revving and hard breaking. The driver didn’t realize that. The manager used this as a training tool,” Feenstra said.

In this case the technology enabled the manager to help improve the habits of the driver. However, the manner in which managers respond to drivers to similar issues is a key factor of a driver’s perception of the technology.

“This could be an approach issue as well. This is a win-win scenario,” Feenstra said.

The Wall Street Journal Online recently published an article outlining “Big Brother” uses of the technology, pointing to a police Sergeant who used it as a means to crack down on his subordinates.

From a regulatory perspective, managers are not required to inform drivers of the use of such tracking technology— although that may change as the technology gains more market share, Feenstra said.

“A good manager is going to want it [drivers to know] anyway,” Feenstra said, pointing out that good managers would use the technology constructively. “They [managers] don’t want an adversarial environment— a lot of fleets used this data as a motivational tool. At the end the benefits outweigh concerns for privacy.”