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MoDOT using GPS technology to keep drivers safe

MoDOT snow plow
A MoDOT snow plow sits parked at a facility.


The Missouri Department of Transportation Central District is using technology to track each of its vehicles while they are out on the road. The department has been using the technology for four years to monitor the benefits it has.

The department uses the GPS technology in the southwest district, central district and the St. Louis district. Paul Denkler, Assistant District Maintenance Engineer, said the districts that use the technology are recording data that will help senior management decide if it wants to use it statewide.

Denkler did not disclose the cost of the devices but said MoDOT is evaluating the cost-effectiveness. He said there is an initial cost of buying the device and then a monthly fee. The fee varies depending on what the department wants the devices to provide.

"We currently have about 1200 devices installed. Most of those devices are on our dump trucks in all three districts," Denkler said.

The GPS system allows the district to know where each of its trucks are, which Denkler said can be very helpful during winter weather events like snow.

"The capability that we have with these is, not just location, but the first thing that brought it to us was engine diagnostics that we can send remotely engine codes or engine faults to our mechanics by email," he said. "So we don't have to wait for the truck to come to the shop. The mechanics get a real-time alert."

Denkler said this can prevent further damage to trucks because staff has the ability to radio that driver to tell them to shut it down, and then staff can tow it back to the shop.

He said this is just one way the system saves the department money.

Denkler said the devices also track driving patterns.

"These devices are able to track driver behaviors, from speeding to harsh acceleration, to harsh braking, to harsh cornering," he said.

He said that leads to coaching moments for drivers, while also promoting safe driving and reducing the chance of drivers being involved in a wreck. The devices also help staff keep track of drivers who are in rural areas alone.

Denkler said the money the department saves on maintenance helps keep drivers safe by putting that money back into caring for roads. He also said it allows staff to track where trucks have been which helps them know which areas may need to be treated.

"By tracking to see how many passes have been made over a certain route, how long its been since we looked at that route or went over that route and able to adjust where we're treating and where these trucks are at during snow events," he said.

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.


1 Comment

  1. This is a great idea. They can tell if a truck has stopped, or perhaps if it has left the road. They also know where it is, if they need to provide aid to the driver. Well worth the cost, these drivers are priceless!

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