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Keep Your Eyes on the Road

Know where your drivers are-and how they got there.

Are your fleet drivers a little too fleet? Or are they sneaking off for an hour at the local brewpub? Find out the truth with high-tech data-collecting devices that can tell you the location of company cars, verify accident reports, or show you who's speeding in your company vehicles.

One device, a crash-sensing and diagnostic module (SDM), is built in to the electrical systems of every General Motors car and truck. During the first five seconds of air bag deployment, it captures information regarding engine rpm, when the brakes were applied, whether the driver was wearing a seat belt and how fast the car was going.

Simple SDMs have been on General Motors' and various other makers' cars and trucks since 1973, but today's systems are upgraded to record more data. SDM data-tracking devices not only give employers more control over their vehicles by revealing how drivers are using company cars and keeping them honest when filling out accident reports, but also provide auto manufacturers with feedback that can lead to improved vehicle safety design.

You can also buy aftermarket data-tracking devices for installation under the hood. At Road Inc. offers a wallet-sized, wireless device called the Internet Location Manager (iLM). The tamper-proof product allows fleet managers to use a log-on password from a PC or a cell phone to track current locations of company vans and cars, reroute deliveries, discover where drivers make stops, and see how fast they're traveling at any given moment. Cost: $500 to $600 plus monthly online service charges.


Editor and consultant Jill Amadio has been reporting on the automotive industry for 24 years.

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This article was originally published in the April 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Keep Your Eyes on the Road.

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