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Driver Cameras – Protecting the Company and the Driver

May 10, 2017

In-cab video systems are being used by truck fleets more and more frequently. Along with other safety technologies, they increase safety and security. Although drivers have expressed privacy concerns, the benefit of using these technologies seems to outweigh the drawbacks. Let’s take a look to see why this is true.

Driver cameras.jpgHow do they work?

Although there are many different versions of these video systems on the market, most of them function in a similar manner. They typically have two lenses. One faces forward to capture what is happening outside, in front of the truck. The other is inside the cab facing the driver. These devices include an accelerometer to sense sudden movements like rapid deceleration and other forces. They record continuously and only save video when an event occurs that involves sudden deceleration, hard braking, or an alert from an integrated safety system. When this happens, the system usually saves video recorded for a pre-determined amount of time, often 8-10 seconds, before and after the event.

Recorded events are uploaded automatically to the vendor’s site via cloud technology and reviewed by specialists. When risky driving behavior is observed during review, videos are forwarded to the fleet.

Other videos can also be set up to be saved, based on alerts from other safety systems such as lane departure warning and collision avoidance.

Some of these in-cab systems also allow for scheduled or continuous recording, in addition to event-generated options.

How are the recordings used?

Recordings are used in a variety of ways by carriers. For example, recordings of safety events may be used to prove a truck driver’s innocence or guilt in the case of a collision. The footage reveals what actually happened on the road in front of the truck as well as what occurred in the cab of the truck at the time of the accident. This prevents situations where it’s one person’s word against the other and provides more facts. 

Videos are also used to coach drivers relating to safe driving behaviors. When unsafe behaviors are observed, coaching is used to improve or eliminate unwanted behaviors. At the same time, drivers displaying consistently safe driving are being rewarded and recognized by their carriers. Some are even receiving monetary bonuses as a result! 

An added video option is being used by some trucking companies, where cameras are directed to the side view. This allows fleets to catch fuel thieves. Rear-facing cameras are being used as well, monitoring flatbed trailers to ensure that loads are strapped and tarped correctly. 

The data that is generated by these video systems is being used to create predictive analytics based on 100 driver behaviors. This allows carriers to predict which drivers are most likely to be involved in a collision. The information helps identify which drivers need coaching, which ones are improving and which ones are the safest drivers.

What are the benefits?

There are many benefits of using these video systems. Video related to a crash helps expedite claim settlement because it provides additional clarifying information. 

Recordings help improve safety by tracking and documenting behaviors. This facilitates coaching as well as recognition. Many companies have found that their drivers’ behaviors improved and became safer once the cameras were installed. It’s human nature to behave better when you know that you’re being observed. Based on a 2011 study by researchers at Newcastle University, simply hanging posters depicting observant eyes in public spaces reduced undesirable behavior by as much as 50%. 

Carriers are seeing a reduction in the number of accidents caused by large trucks. For example, the Commercial Carrier Journal reported that Bozzuto, a northeastern food distributor, experienced a 22% drop in accidents and a dramatic improvement in safety metrics in its first two years of using driver cams. Another company, M&W Logistics, experienced a 34% decrease in total accidents within the first year of installing cameras. They found that the most severe categories of accidents decreased by more than 50%. This positive impact on truck-driver safety is helping carriers save money on insurance while making the roads safer. 

As truck drivers are experiencing mostly-positive results of having these cameras they’re becoming less concerned about them and some are actually glad to have them. What they felt would be an invasion of privacy is often saving them in legal situations and bringing bonuses their way. Many systems can be disabled when the truck is parked, and the driver is off-duty, to ensure privacy. This makes it more appealing as well. All this, plus safety benefits, result in driver camera systems being a positive thing for carriers and drivers alike.