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Essentials of
police fleet
management
and maintenance

Author: Mark Stone

Managing a fleet of police vehicles can be challenging and costly. There are numerous factors to consider, including police department rules and regulations. Police departments must ensure all police fleet vehicles are in good condition and are safe to operate. They also have to think about officer safety, public perception and doing an effective job—all while managing the cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance.

Fortunately, advances in technology—for example, telematics solutions that enable fleet tracking and monitoring—can provide enormous support in all of these areas. Here are some of the ways police departments can harness data and technology to manage their fleets more safely, ethically and cost-effectively.

Police fleet management and maintenance challenges

Police departments today face a range of challenges when managing fleets, many of which didn't exist to the same extent in the past. Here are some of the obstacles today's fleet managers must take into consideration.

Safety of drivers and vehicles

Driving a police vehicle can be a dangerous job. Communication and mapping technology, enabled by GPS fleet tracking, can provide a layer of safety by helping monitor and control risky driving, quickly notifying officers about events like unauthorized vehicle activity, driver location and traffic information.

Reliable police fleet maintenance

In Verizon's Smart Fleet Management webinar, 41% of officers reported their biggest fleet challenge is keeping up with vehicle maintenance. Ensuring a police fleet is up to date and running reliably and safely requires significant monitoring and upkeep. Maintenance monitoring technology in police vehicles can help by providing vehicle diagnostics and detecting any issues with various aspects of the vehicles' health.

Fuel and maintenance costs

Maintaining a police fleet over time can eat up a large portion of a departmental budget. Normal wear and tear of vehicles is expected, and the cost of keeping those vehicles in good condition and filled with fuel can escalate quickly. You can help reduce these costs, however, by reducing mileage through vehicle routing, doing predictive police fleet maintenance to anticipate wear and tear, and lowering fuel consumption by encouraging economic driving habits.

Liability issues and public perception

Police departments are under increasing public scrutiny: 66% of attendees in the Verizon webinar mentioned above articulated that public perception is extremely important to their work, and making errors in the field can quickly draw the wrong type of attention and lead to liability issues.

With communication technologies and telematics tools, police departments can document safe behavior like officers' driving speed, demonstrate more effective use of public money and help respond faster when called. Achieving safety and providing evidence as such helps to reassure the public that their police forces are doing their jobs effectively and safely.

Technologies that help police fleets perform more efficiently

Police fleets can draw from a range of available technologies and tools to perform their jobs more effectively. Here are three key technologies to look out for:

Automation

Automation allows officers to receive alerts and updates in real time, helping them respond more readily to emergency situations, make adjustments to their speed or driving style, use different routes and more. Automation helps reduce human error and uses data to make more informed decisions.

Telematics

By connecting vehicles in real time, units can coordinate much more quickly and clearly—even in crisis situations. Telematics helps officers reduce the time to respond to issues, avoid dangerous situations, and connect and work together when the stakes are high.

Vehicle diagnostics

Monitoring key metrics and gaining meaningful insights about the vehicles in your fleet can help predict issues and make changes to ineffective or inefficient driving habits. Vehicle diagnostic technology can also reduce costs in the long term by allowing you to fix the smaller maintenance problems before they snowball into larger, more costly ones.

How to use data to improve police fleet management and maintenance

With the wealth of data available to today's police departments, it's feasible to improve police fleet management in concrete and measurable ways that can help directly impact public safety outcomes.

The ability to track and analyze usage data can create operational efficiencies, with some agencies reducing insurance liability considerably.

Here are some of the technologies and tools police departments can use to leverage data for their fleets:

  • Monitoring technology can help you observe vehicle performance and collect various important metrics to help reduce costs, improve safety and prolong the life of vehicles. GPS fleet tracking software uses preventative maintenance to identify behaviors and conditions (such as harsh driving) that lead to damage and generate alerts whenever they happen. This allows you to anticipate the damage before it happens and make adjustments to help alleviate future issues.
  • You can geolocate vehicles in near real time with telematics and GPS tracking, gaining visibility of your entire fleet and allowing you to reroute vehicles to improve responsiveness, enhance police officer safety and save time, fuel and costs.
  • You can comply with requirements (such as electronic log requirements according to hours of service) by receiving automated alerts when drivers are approaching their limits as identified by predictive maintenance software.

Not sure where to start with smart police fleet management? Verizon's range of fleet management solutions leverage technology like telematics, vehicle diagnostics and artificial intelligence to help police departments manage their vehicles more efficiently, cost-effectively and safely. Learn more about how telematics can help improve fleet management.