Van tracking review: SafeTrac Solutions Ltd

SafeTrac is a Southampton-based tracking provider which supplies the services of two well-known tracking firms and, unusually, has developed its own bespoke system.

Unusual because this means there has been a hefty investment of time and resources but it also means that the developers have responded to client requests to provide what they need.

While the system may not be as visually attractive as some, it certainly has the edge when it comes to the number of applications that can be accessed.

If you are looking for a van tracking system that is basic then this is for you – and if you want something that is more sophisticated then it’s for you also.

Real time van tracking for more than one vehicle

In a nutshell, the SafeTrac system will:

  • Mapping is bit smarter than many competitors
  • Uses an algorithm to deliver Street View of where the van is
  • Offers a ‘Bird’s eye view – not every system offers this
  • Transport manager can see on the screen whether a delivery is possible and send another vehicle if necessary
  • Will give a full post code address – not a rough estimate of where the vehicle actually is
  • It’s easy to create a snail trail of where the van has been and it uses Google Street View of the locations
  • Can map more than one vehicle at a time – a premium addition on some systems – to assess whether routes/sales areas overlap
  • Help a business save money by analysing routes for most effective solution
  • Analyses fuel economy too

Essentially, everything from traffic reports and the performance of the drivers can be easily accessed and when viewed in real-time, it makes for a fascinating system to monitor.

As with many competitors, the SafeTrac system will offer the exact co-ordinates of where the tracked vehicle currently is but unlike many of thems, it also allows the user to click on the location and use Google’s Street View to have a closer look at where the van actually is.

Also, we should point out, not all vehicle tracking software will offer co-ordinates or an exact postcode location but this system will.

There are a number of good reasons for this ability – especially if the driver is complaining, for instance, that he or she can’t make a delivery because the street is too narrow the transport manager or business owner can check immediately and see the street itself is flat and wide enough for a vehicle via the image that is generated automatically from Street View.

Best mapping service for a van tracking system

The mapping used is very good and it is possible to switch to ‘aerial’ which creates Google Earth’s version of the roadmap and then switch again to a ‘Birds eye’ view when the user goes into about 400metres from the ground.

Everything is crystal clear and easy to use and switching between maps is a piece of cake. From there the user can track vehicles anywhere in the country.

The firm also told us that in future, users will also be able to have a more impressive ability for a closer look but they’re keeping a lid on what that will actually mean for now.

Another highlight for us was the ability to add ‘markers’ to show regular places that the vehicle will visit, such as home and work and popular work locations.

How many vehicles can SafeTrac follow?

However, the real delight in using the SafeTrac Solutions tracking system comes with monitoring more than one vehicle at a time.

Other systems save the user money by offering only one vehicle to be monitored at a time which means switching between screens but with this one everything is there in front of the user.

In addition to keeping track and offering a Street View, the system will show where routes cross over or, in the case of sales reps, whether they stray into another area. Obviously this is a source for money and time-saving.

As should be expected, the data that is collated is in-depth and covers things like start and stop times, heavy braking instances, driver behaviour, and there’s even a way to evaluate the amount of fuel used.

Use tracking to improve driver behaviour

This means that the system will flag up whether a driver can be taught to drive more economically and save the business money.

There’s also a very clever alarm system which will flag up instances of heavy braking which highlight a crash, or a ‘close call’. It may come as a source of relief that a transport manager or business owner will call in the moments after an incident to ensure that everything is OK and the driver is unhurt.

It also means that the driver will have, literally, nowhere to hide since the person watching the screen will know what has happened and there won’t be any possibility of evading the truth!

SafeTrac also enables the business user to replay a vehicle’s journey from any particular day should there be a dispute for any reason or the business owner wants to find out what happened for a van to be damaged, for instance.

Real time vehicle tracking for business

On the system we used, we monitored in real time the activities of one business in the Bournemouth area and we were very impressed overall with the system’s capabilities.

We were also quite taken with the ability to offer those out in the field the latest traffic reports should they be caught up in heavy traffic.

There’s also the ability to look at the fuel and emissions for a particular van and driver and drill down to see how their performance compares with others.

The system can also be set-up with maintenance schedules that will highlight when a service is due.

And, should it be necessary, the sending of a message to the entire fleet, or to an individual driver, is simplicity itself though the messages are restricted to 160 characters.

Review of the SafeTrac Solutions Ltd system

There are some very nice touches to the SafeTrac Solutions Ltd vehicle tracking system.

We found it helpful that along with a picture and the exact coordinates for the van’s location, there was also a record of speed at that time (in one instance the van was doing 30mph and the Google image showed the street with a 30 mph sign – congratulations to that driver!).

As with other tracking systems there are a variety of subscription levels but the beauty here is that a user could start with the basic model and after some use decide that they want to drill down for more information which means easily adding the extra services.

Vehicle tracking systems reviewed and rated

There’s no doubt that firms with van fleets of various sizes could learn a lot from this system – they could easily save money by refining their operations and improving driving behaviours. Indeed, the people at SafeTrac say that a firm can point to the RoI should they invest in the system.

All in all, we were very impressed with the abilities of the SafeTrac system and it’s rare to find a firm that has developed its own software and runs it on its own servers to deliver a real and honest service to subscribers.

While it may not be the cheapest around or be suitable for larger fleets, transport managers and small business owners with between 10 and 50 vehicles will particularly find the SafeTrac system of huge benefit.


SafeTrac Solutions Ltd

William Reid is the managing director of SafeTrac Solutions and he has nearly 20 years of experience in the telematics industry.

The firm was set up in 2004 to provide vehicle tracking devices and telematics services and now SafeTrac also provides Tracker and TOMTOM services to a growing base of subscribers in addition to their own software.

William says that unlike other firms, his company does not outsource the mapping software or server ability to a third party.

Van tracking service from SafeTrac Solutions

He explains: “One reason for this is that having our own mapping application means that we can respond quickly and easily to a customer request or problem.

“It also means that when new features need to be upgraded then this too can be done efficiently and easily and bring peace of mind because the software is secure.”

He says fleet managers should always ask their supplier whether their hardware can be upgraded or programmed remotely which will save time because an engineer will not have to visit the site to upgrade kit and software.

William adds: “Fleet managers should also ask whether their supplier will add services such as lone worker protection, vehicle tracking and asset tracking.

“This means that a fleet manager has a one-stop portal to view their company assets without having to switch between hardware and software. The entire process should be simple and seamless and that’s what SafeTrac provides.”