In-vehicle telematics – it seems as if it’s a buzzword of the moment, but do you really know what telematics means and more importantly, what it does and doesn’t encompass?

According to, the word “telematics” is defined as, ” the branch of science concerned with the use of technological devices to transmit information over long distances.” Many times, the word is used to encompass technologies and solutions that aren’t actually telematics.

So, while this lingo may impress your tech-inclined friends, it doesn’t tell you how in-vehicle telematics works. Let’s break it down into layman’s terms.

→ Download Now: Telematics vs. Continuous Driver Monitoring – It’s Not an Either/Or Decision

How Telematics Works

In-vehicle telematics devices are most often hardware installed in a vehicle focused on tracking what drivers are doing in said aforementioned vehicle during the time that the software is turned on.

Typically, in-vehicle telematics is looking to measure the ABCs (in this instance, not just a fun alphabet colloquialism) of driver behavior, including:

  • Acceleration
  • Braking
  • Cornering
  • Speeding

Due to the insight received, the popularity of in-vehicle telematics has only continued increasing over the years. Those ABC data points, while compelling at first glance and helpful information to have on hand, lack the context companies like yours need to make informed and actionable decisions.

Once the in-vehicle telematics device has been switched off, it begs the question – why does context matter and what are you not seeing?

Context is Needed

When preaching safety, it’s easy to see things as black and white. With in-vehicle telematics, context is needed in order to distinguish what safe and unsafe behaviors look like. Consider the difference in a vehicle swerving to avoid an object in the middle of the road versus a vehicle swerving due to the driver texting.

How differently would you view these two driver behaviors?

In-vehicle telematics devices aren’t working and turned-on all of the time, meaning that behaviors potentially putting your company in jeopardy could be glossed over. This isn’t anyone’s fault – with in-vehicle telematics, you’re only informed of notable changes in on-the-clock driving behavior.

4 Ways You’re Missing Out on Driver Data by only Using in-Vehicle Telematics

When only using in-vehicle telematics, know that the technology and devices aren’t immune to pitfalls. Some of the most common issues with in-vehicle telematics that may be obscuring the full driver risk picture within your company include:

Drivers Appeasing in-Vehicle Telematics

What if your driver is only taking positive action behind the wheel in an effort to appease the technology?

Since in-vehicle telematics records what a driver is doing in the car while the device is on, drivers may make decisions necessary in avoiding on-the-job vehicle incidents that aren’t part of their normal off the clock driving behavior, strictly to appease their in-vehicle telematics.

You could have a chronic speeder as part of your fleet and never know due to their on the clock in-vehicle telematics performance. Consider the lengths as well, including unintentionally partaking in risky but unrecorded behavior, your drivers may take to avoid having their driving register as faulty or dangerous.

Jammed GPS Signals

An in-vehicle telematics device does not always mean consistent reliability. From a technological standpoint, GPS signals associated with in-vehicle telematics technology can easily be jammed by devices aimed at causing disruption in signal broadcasts.

The only way to prevent this from occurring is by buying an in-vehicle telematics system that will detect and report signal jamming – only adding to the costliness and investment in vehicle telematics devices.

Potentially Outdated Technology

Many companies are working to keep pace with the latest and greatest in technological offerings. With new state of the art in-vehicle telematics devices developed every day and the need to ensure safety, keeping up with these trends quickly becomes expensive.

Calculate the expense that comes with continuing to update to the latest and greatest in-vehicle telematics devices. Odds are, it’ll cost you more and bad behavior behind the wheel once the in-vehicle telematics device has been shut off will still occur, despite the investment.

Manually Connecting the Dots

There’s a lot of information on driver behavior that can be gathered through in-vehicle telematics. The real challenge begins when attempting to conglomerate that data and determine how those negative behaviors correlate with undesirable outcomes.

Imagine manually trying to link these data points with negative behaviors outlined as unacceptable in your safety policy. Such a cumbersome task is an immense expenditure of both time and resources.

Now That You Know – What’s Next?

Not knowing who should get behind the wheel in the first place is a nerve-wracking thought, and a reality when you choose to solely rely on in-vehicle telematics devices for your driver insight.

Now that you’re aware of the drawbacks that in-vehicle telematics devices can bring, you’re probably asking yourself – “where do I go from here?” You’re in luck – we have a suggestion to combat the shortcomings of only utilizing telematics.

A different technological approach can round out the driver insight your company is missing by just utilizing in-vehicle telematics. Download our white paper to learn more.