Tech Firms Prepared for IFTA Changes, See Benefits for Fleets

This story appears in the September 12 print edition of iTECH, a supplement to Transport Topics.

Technology firms that develop or support onboard fleet-management and telematics systems say they are prepared for upcoming changes to the International Fuel Tax Agreement’s auditing procedures and see benefits for their fleet customers.

“Information on the audit process will now be better defined for states, and that should be helpful,” said Tom Cuthbertson, vice president of regulatory affairs for Omnitracs.

However, carriers still will need to monitor and verify fuel purchases, organize their data, audit it and ship it, he said.

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Using onboard technology to collect fuel-tax data can benefit carriers in several ways, said Carl Robinson, director of Vusion, a division of PeopleNet that specializes in data analytics.

“They’ll see more accurate allocation of their tax money, for one thing,” he said. “And there will be less work for the driver, who won’t be trying to write down an odometer reading while crossing a bridge into another state. Taking that responsibility away from drivers will increase safety at the same time it improves accuracy.”

To ensure that data is accurate, carriers using onboard technology need a built-in application that calculates the miles by state and can deal with data discrepancies, Robinson said.

“Because computers can err and may not function in rugged environments, either the carrier or the service provider should have checks in place to compare various data sources against each other and make corrections if necessary,” he said.

Ravi Kodavarti, director of commercial products at Rand McNally, said fleets using the company’s devices can access truck-specific navigation to more easily comply with the revised IFTA procedures.

“As the IFTA changes take effect, we’ll work to ease any changes for our customers by streamlining, consulting and providing the best solutions to meet their needs,” said Rustin Keller, executive vice president at J.J. Keller & Associates Inc.

Carriers that haven’t yet chosen to implement electronic tracking technology “now might want to take a second look at how it can significantly streamline IFTA and [International Registration Plan] record-keeping and reporting,” Keller added.

Kelly Frey, spokesman for Telogis, also said the IFTA rule changes could persuade more carriers to begin collecting and reporting fuel-tax mileage electronically.

“We’ve always embraced the IFTA fuel-tax issue as a technology problem,” he said, describing it as “a great example of a requirement that carriers can automate and optimize.”

“The technology in the cab is very much a part of the driver’s work-flow process, taking away manual tasks and making him safer, more productive and more efficient while he’s out on the road,” Frey said,

R. Fenton-May, president of CarrierWeb, a provider of fleet-management solutions, said the data his firm provides won’t change.

“Our expertise is providing the raw mileage data to companies that provide support to carriers on keeping their tax files and preparing to be audited,” Fenton-May said. “So there won’t be any changes for us at all.”