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Can telematics & cameras improve school bus safety?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Zen-tinel and Redtail Telematics’ partner to improve the safety and efficiency of student bus transportation for Central Pennsylvania School District (CPSD) utilising onboard telematics and camera solutions

Zen-tinel and Redtail Telematics’ partner to improve the safety and efficiency of student bus transportation for Central Pennsylvania School District (CPSD) utilising onboard telematics and camera solutions


Benefits include:

  • Provide real-time traffic support
  • Knowing each time a vehicle’s ignition is on or off to determine mileage, after-hour usage, idling and more
  • Efficient mileage data capture – save time on data entry and reporting to authorities
  • Maintaining a healthy vehicle battery and creating alerts to notify the driver if battery voltage levels drop
  • Assessing and improving driver behavior; heavy braking, acceleration, speeding, incident notification and crash assessment


In addition, CPSD and their operations team can utilise route efficiency algorithms to maximise fuel consumption, achieving an estimated 18% saving year on year.  Utilising the unique REDTAIL/Zentinel technology, CPSD can monitor when students board and leave the vehicle, and receive a gas reimbursement for mileage when a student is aboard.

Commenting on the success of the partnership, Len Kapp, supervisor of operations and transportation, CPSD said: “Zen-tinel and Redtail Telematics has been a game-changer. Redtail’s fleet management service has benefitted us in so many ways, with a reduction in fuel consumption across our fleet being the most significant, along with time saved on data reporting. This helps us provide a better service for the schools in terms of both safety and efficiency”.


CONTACT US – Redtail Telematics

TEL: 619-546-9061


CONTACT US – Zen-tinel

TEL: 724-357-9709



Partner is as Partner does, and says, and………

Reading Time: 4 minutes

REDTAIL works with both small and large businesses. In all those relationships, we strive to work with humility, empathy, and fortitude in order to, well, succeed together. The sum of which is that working with the right folk in the right way is imperative to growth.  This has consistently brought to the fore the meaning of ‘partner’ in our business relationships.

We’ve all seen it: Partner Programme, Partner Contract; Partner Relationship, Partner Pricing (pricing a subject all on its own!) – all ripe for abuse and exploitation – and of course opportunity. Very recently I was in a meeting in which the (large) company representative stated clearly and warmly: ‘We like to work with people as partners, where it’s about relationship.’ Nice. Conversely, I was in a meeting in which a (small/medium) company representative stated clearly ‘You are not a partner you are a commodity.’ Less nice.

I am happy to confirm that in my first example, the large company Partner has backed up their statement with collaborative behavior.  Likewise, rather unfortunately, my second example has continued to… abuse expectations, shall we say.


But what should ‘Partner’ mean, and when should this over-flexed term be used?

I offer three areas for discussion on partner behaviors:

  1. Mutual understanding of market(s) and business context
  2. Mutually beneficial directions & outcomes – interdependencies
  3. Respect

All very collaborative, positive behaviors that you’d want to experience in any relationship you find yourself involved in. But what do they mean? How can they be achieved?

Mutual understanding of market(s) and business context

This is not a history lesson. It is a dialogue (important word) on where a business has come from, its DNA, where its key people have come from, and where it hopes to get and how, and even when. Share (under NDA) to care, as they say. Dedicate the time and intellect. Question and listen to the answer. Understand and accept.

Mutually beneficial directions & outcomes

Perhaps the most difficult. It is a moving target of course. Understanding of today’s ambitions takes no account of market dynamics that may impact both direction and outcome. Acceptance can be tested by a seemingly inconsistent knee-jerk reaction. Relationships can be impacted without transparent communication. Having said that, to continue to enable growth, for outcomes to be celebrated mutually, surely a worthwhile investment in every sense of the word.


‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements’;

‘due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others’

Nuff said?

So when should we use this term? Difficult to be prescriptive, and I would certainly urge a considered approach. What I am sure of is that when you mean it, say it, and when you say it mean it.  Act accordingly and with consistency, resolve, and not a little humility, empathy and fortitude.


How many FLEET vehicle summer maintenance checks do you follow?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

As a fleet manager, do you perform annual summer maintenance checks on your vehicle fleet?

It’s pretty common to hear people talk about preparing their vehicles for winter and the cold weather it brings.  However, it seems to be less common to hear or expect the same during the summer.  Unusual since it’s often the hotter temperatures that cause more serious damage to our vehicles.  Perhaps because cold weather feels harsher to us, we forget that warm weather is just as, if not more treacherous to our vehicles!

Regular maintenance checks reduce the risk of your vehicles being out of service while they get costly repairs, or worse, being involved in an accident.  This can save you money, the environment and also increase road safety.

I suppose the next important question is… What checks are needed to prepare your vehicle fleet for summer?

Luckily, we have some tips on how to keep your fleet running optimally, even in the warm weather.

Check your tires!!

    • This is probably the most important one to remember. It may surprise you, but poor tire pressure is a primary cause of accidents in the UK, according to a recent AutoCar article.  It is also a leading cause of vehicle downtime or accidents (15%) for fleets, according to a report by Software Advice.
    • Hopefully, those stats identify just how important it is to perform that all-important summer maintenance on your tyres!!
    • The takeaway? Schedule routine tyre checks for your fleet monthly, so you can spot any potential issues quickly. Tyre pressure increases when it’s hot. Why is this relevant? Well, over or under-inflated or worn-out tyres can be dangerous when driving.

Air conditioning

    • Another key consideration is the vehicle’s air conditioning unit. Be sure to perform regular checks on the air conditioning units of the vehicles in your fleet. An issue left unfixed could cause costly damage to your vehicles (not just in repairs but also in time spent out of service). These are easy to perform maintenance on but not so easy (and much more costly) to repair if something goes wrong.
    • Air conditioning failure is another leading cause of vehicle downtime or accidents (19%) for fleets.
    • Furthermore, changing your air filter every 12000-15000 miles makes sure the vehicle’s electrical systems get the fresh air they need. Important on those hot summer days and, bonus, can help increase the gas/mileage ratio!



    • It’s recommended to replace straps every 60,000 to 100,000 miles, so check your vehicles’ belts at regular intervals! Again, not performing these checks regularly enough could be costly in repairs and time where the vehicle is being repaired. Additionally, worn belts add a safety risk that you don’t want to take!!

Oil / fluids

    • It is usually advised to change your oil approximately every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. However, it should be done sooner if your drivers take very long journeys, carrying heavy equipment or shipments. Make sure to also check underneath the car for leaks. Leaving your oil unchanged for too long can seriously damage a vehicle, leading to costly repairs!


Engine check

    • Lastly, you must make sure vehicle engines don’t overheat. I suppose this is one that’s more for the vehicle users to keep an eye on. If an engine starts overheating, STOP!! Keep the engine off long enough for it to cool down to a safe temperature. If it’s consistently happening, get it checked out as there could be a problem with it.
      If you leave an issue like this too long then it could result in a case so bad that the vehicle has to be written off, so watch out for this one! To help put it into perspective, this was the highest cause of vehicle downtime or accidents (20%) for fleets.


So, how can you manage all of the above for your whole fleet in a time and money-effective manner?

By using fleet tracking devices and fleet management software, like Redtail’s fleet management system!


Redtail’s fleet management system allows fleet managers to perform functions such as:

  • Set routine maintenance reminders to keep track of everything ahead of time
  • You can use the system to alert for unnecessary idling to reduce the extra strain on your vehicles that can cause
  • There’s the ability to receive battery monitoring alerts to identify to you when a vehicle battery is having issues
  • Accident and claim management. If one of your vehicles is involved in an accident you can use the device data to assist with the claim process
  • Track your vehicles so you know where each vehicle is at any and all times
  • Geofencing and alerts. This allows you to set up “geofences” (specific areas your drivers must stay within or outside of), and alert notifications if any vehicles go outside or inside of your criteria
  • Maintain individual data on each vehicle that can be easily searched




Furthermore, the greatest achievement of having the vehicle properly maintained is you will be able to reduce the risk of accidents and breakdowns.

You’ll be saving your wallet, the environment, and improving road safety!

Have you thought about all of the above?  Is your vehicle fleet ready for summer?  If you need vehicle tracking and fleet management services, contact Redtail to find out how we can help you achieve your goals!

Economical driving is safer driving – and here’s why

Reading Time: 6 minutes

At Redtail, we like to use the data our devices produce to help our customers save money.  If we can also help save the environment and reduce road accidents, that’s even better.  We do what we can to help align economical driving and safer driving to save money and our planet.

Road transport accounts for over 11% of our CO2 emissions!

If you can’t reduce the amount you drive, here is some advice from Redtail’s engineers on how to lower your contribution to those emissions.​​

The force (and therefore the fuel) needed to propel a vehicle can be described by a very complex-looking formula.


Our engineers find this fascinating, but if equations like this don’t excite you, please keep reading.  It’s not as complex as it seems as it can be broken down into 3 parts.  The first part is largely about reducing weight, the second about driving more slowly and the third about braking and accelerating less.

Reducing unnecessary weight…


The first part of the equation accounts for about 35% of the fuel consumption in both urban and rural driving.


It is the energy needed to overcome the friction to move a vehicle’s wheels on the road.  You can do two things to reduce this – eliminate unnecessary mass (reduce the M),  (Do you have things in your boot you do not need?), secondly, ensure your tires are at the correct pressure (reduce the Correct-tyre-pressure).   (To reduce g you need to launch your car into space.  This has been done recently but is a little impractical for most of us.)

Reducing speed and drag…


The second part of this equation accounts for about 57% of fuel consumption in rural driving and 24% in urban driving.


Put simply, it is the energy needed to push a vehicle through the air.

To reduce this, the most important thing is to reduce your speed (V).  If you reduce your speed from 70 mph to 60mph, this will reduce the fuel used by 36%.  You should also reduce the drag on your vehicle (Reduce-drag-on-vehicle) – do you have a roof rack left over from your last holiday? – if so, removing it will reduce the fuel you use.

Reducing speed is often easier said than done.  Modern cars are quiet and it is easy to drive quickly without realizing it.  Redtail’s telematics devices can tell you where you have been driving faster than the average on a stretch of road, so you have an extra incentive to slow down.

Avoiding harsh braking and acceleration…


The final part of the equation describes the energy lost in braking and acceleration.


Most of it gets lost as heat when you brake.  In urban driving, about 41% of energy is used in this way.  It’s less important in rural driving but still accounts for 8% of fuel consumption.

Coincidentally, harsh braking and acceleration are related to safe driving.  In millions of miles that have been tracked by Redtail’s devices, journeys with few incidents of harsh braking and acceleration are far less likely to end in a crash.   Redtail’s driver scoring app can tell you where you accelerate and brake quickly and help you drive both more efficiently, more safely and save money.





In conclusion, I hope that this dip into the data science and engineering world of REDTAIL helps explain how we have an understanding that if you drive efficiently you are also driving safely.  I hope that our understanding can in turn help your understanding – REDTAIL is a strong advocate of driver coaching within a UBI program, personal or commercial lines – and perhaps even moderate your driver behaviors a little to benefit both your pocket, the environment and also road safety more widely.  That’s how we think you being a more economical driver and a safer driving can help you save money and our planet!

Tips for good car maintenance in warm weather

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The warm weather is on its way… maybe! For some of us, it might already be here. For others (like us in the UK), the weather is notoriously unpredictable. One thing is for sure, the average highs we experience during the warmer months are on the up. In a country where highs in the 30s were considered extreme, this now seems to be the norm during our summer high.

For example, the risk of punctures goes up by 20% in warm weather – that’s surprisingly high!

Plus, I recently found out that roadside callouts increase by 20% (30% along the coast) when it’s hot! Furthermore, cars are 50% more likely to overheat in warm weather. So, what can we do to help prevent us from becoming part of those statistics?

Hopefully, the tips included below will help you keep your vehicle in good shape when it gets hot, hot, hot!

Tips for beneficial car maintenance in warm weather:

  • Check your brakes

    • If you notice excessive grinding, squealing, screeching or chatter, these could indicate a problem so get them checked
  • Pay attention to your car’s temperature and pull over if the light comes on or the thermometer enters the red zone

    • Driving even a short distance with an overheated engine can cause serious damage. Leave the engine to cool down before driving again and do NOT try to cool the engine quickly with cold water. A sudden change in temperature could also damage the engine
  • Your windscreen wipers might need some TLC too

    • Wipe away dirt and debris that might have accumulated. If they look a bit worse for wear, make sure you replace them (all that snow and ice can take its toll)


  • Check your battery!!

    • While your vehicle battery could die at any time of the year, hot temperatures can have a particular impact. Consider getting your battery health checked before making a long journey! Or get a Redtail tracker (our devices monitor your battery health and send a notification if it looks like your battery is on its way out).
  • Give your vehicle a good wash!

    • The salt build-up on your vehicle from months of driving along salt-laid and snowy/icy roads can damage the paintwork. Why not show your vehicle some love by giving it a good thorough clean to wash that build-up away?


  • Make sure your tire pressure is ok

    • Temperature fluctuations can affect the air levels in your tires. Either over or under-inflated tires can make you a risk on the road
  • Top up those fluids!

    • Remember to check, top off or replace all fluids. That includes oil, brake, transmission, coolant, power steering and windscreen washer fluid


  • Make sure your air conditioning unit is working correctly

    • If it doesn’t feel cold enough, get it checked. You might need to replace the air filters or get more refrigerant
  • Give your interiors a clean

    • Cleaning the inside of your vehicle can help extend the life of your vehicle interior. It’s the same principle as how washing and waxing the outside protects the exterior
  • It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit

    • Things to consider include water, phone charger and first aid kit. You might even want to consider some antihistamines/hay fever tablets if you suffer from hay fever! Hay fever symptoms such as excessive sneezing or itchy eyes can make you a risk behind the wheel.  Something to consider if you’re prone to suffering from these symptoms


Hopefully, you’ve found some or all of these tips helpful in keeping your car working in the heat.  If you think we’ve missed any, why not add a comment below to let us know what your top tips are for keeping your car going when it’s hot?


Driver risk – are you 4x more likely to be in a crash?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Hopefully, it’s no secret at this point that Redtail offers Driver Risk Scoring on the data generated by our devices.  In fact, it’s an area in which we invest much time, thought and resource to add ever increasing value for our customers.

As a company, we are very big on quality (read my Quality blog post for proof of that), and our Driver Risk Scoring is something we like to pride ourselves on.  We think it’s an impressive tool, but we would say that wouldn’t we?!  If you don’t believe us, why not let the data do the talking and see for yourself!

Exceptional quality data is something we always strive towards, always making continuous improvements to every part of the Redtail offering.

That’s why we feel so confident in the recent stats that we generated based on Redtail’s Driver Risk Scores analysis.  The analysis revealed some very interesting predictors when it comes to driver risk score and its correlation to the likelihood of being involved in a crash.

Highest risk drivers are around 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash compared to the average driver (from Redtail’s pool of data).

High risk drivers more likely to crash graph

The graph also tells us drivers in the highest risk score band (91-100) 10x more likely to be involved in a crash than those in the lowest risk score band (1-10).

That’s right, highest risk drivers are TEN TIMES more likely to be involved in a crash than the lowest!!

Of course, the correlation is not fully linear as it’s real-life data, where there’s always going to be some randomness.  Also, even “good” drivers have crashes sometimes as even the best drivers can’t predict or prevent everything. This data just demonstrates that drivers with the highest risk score are more likely to be involved in a crash.

How do I know if I’m a “high-risk” driver?!

Good question!  There are some particularly indicative driver behaviors that Redtail can identify as part of the Risk Score analysis.

For now, I’ll explore 3 of these predictors… I think we’ll be here too long if I try going through them all (there’s a lot).  Firstly, let’s discuss Harsh Braking.  While this is a very common driving behavior, it is prevalent in drivers who crash.

By prevalent, I mean drivers who brake harshly are 4 times more likely to have a crash than the average driver, or more.

crash likelihood correlated with harsh braking

Definition time: Harsh Braking is triggered by a sudden decrease in speed against a predetermined configurable threshold. There are different threshold settings depending on the vehicle’s speed.

Next, let’s talk about Undue Speed.  Excessive Undue Speed is dangerous as it shows the driver is traveling at speeds higher than other road users typical for that road at that time of day.  This one is important because drivers who spend 8% or more of their time driving at Undue Speeds are more than twice as likely to have a crash. Driving at speeds below that of those around also adds considerably to risk.

That means you’re doubling your crash risk if you spend 8+% of your time driving above the mean speed!!

Excessive Undue Speed is dangerous graph

Excessive Undue Speed is dangerous as it shows the driver is traveling at speeds higher than other road users.  (N.B. Uses Redtail algorithm, not posted speed).

All I can say is, all this data is definitely enough to make me consciously consider how I drive.  I will admit, I’m a bit of a “square” when it comes to speeding.  I pay close attention to my speed to always stay within the speed limit.  If I had to be honest about my driving, I’d probably have to say it’s my cornering habits that could do with some work (or so I’ve been told – we all think we’re above average drivers though don’t we).