When someone stole a Caltrans GMC Safari from a parking lot during the early hours of July 24, it didn’t take long for division engineers to realize the fleet vehicle was missing and report it stolen. It took just around an hour for CHP to find the van and arrest the thief. What made the quick recovery possible? According to Transportation Division spokesman Matt Rocco, “GPS had just been installed the day ahead.”
Caltrans is in the final stages of equipping its huge fleet with high-tech telematics devices that provide managers with information like engine idle time, if the engine light goes on, the speed the vehicle is being driven, whether it meets smog requirements, as well as data from GPS tracking.
When all is said and done, 7,500 trucks, sedans, portable signs, and snowplows will be equipped with the new technology to a tune of $2.5 million. Data reporting for all the devices will cost another $1.5 annually.
During a 200-car pilot program, fuel consumption was cut by 16 percent and the cars were better maintained. Caltrans believes it could save as much as $500,000 annually just by eliminate manual vehicle logs.