This past week, the state of Louisiana, under the direction of Go. Bobby Jindal’s administration, began installing tracking devices in each and every vehicle the entire state government’s fleet.
Some 10,543 vehicles are owned by state government agencies, and now each of them will feature a Global Positioning System (GPS) device that will feed all the particulars into a computerized database.
“You’re more self-aware of your driving habits. We’re not saying that people are purposely abusing the system, but they are more aware,” said Jan Cassidy, assistant commissioner for procurement. “If you know someone is watching you, you’re not going to wander off a path.”
However, the administration has been quick to dispel the idea that the GPS installation is a reflection of its distrust of state workers, Cassidy continued, insisting the real reason for the $10 million project is that the state expects to save $30 million over the next five years by reducing the costs of fuel, maintenance and insurance by generating monitored, measurable results.
By charting the routes, for instance, more-efficient routes and usage can be planned, Cassidy said. The system also will alert officials when their employees drive erratically.
“You have more responsible driving when you have GPS. When someone is speeding, we are notified. We are contacted immediately,” said Secretary Mike Strain, whose Department of Agriculture and Forestry started using GPS in November 2006 to keep track of firefighting personnel while they were in dangerous situations, and later expanded GPS application to cars, tractor trailers and other vehicles in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010. According to agency statistics, in the first year fuel usage dropped 28.% from 567,212 gal in 2009 to 404,264 gal in 2010.
“[GPS] does change driving patterns, and it has lowered insurance costs,” Strain said.
Louisiana is the first state to install the devices on all its vehicles. In other states, only a few agencies have used GPS, such as the Texas Department of Transportation or the University of California, Los Angeles.