Fleet Dash Cams: Everything You Need to Know
Running a safe operation is crucial to success as a motor carrier. That’s why more trucking businesses are adding fleet dash cams to their vehicles. In-cab cameras provide a vast amount of visual data that can be used to increase safety, improve driver performance and protect motor carriers from wrongful claims and fraud
Keep reading to learn about the benefits of dash cams for carriers and drivers, which fleet dash cam features are most important and more.
What Are Fleet Dash Cams?
Fleet dash cams are cameras that are installed inside the cab of commercial motor vehicles. They are often mounted to the windshield, and they record activity happening on the road in front of a vehicle. Some dash cams also have a driver-facing configuration, allowing them to record what is happening inside the cab, and may include audio recording.
Fleet dash cams are often designed to automatically capture clips and upload them to the cloud when triggered by safety-critical events, such as hard breaking, harsh turning, rapid acceleration and collisions.
Dash Cam Benefits for Motor Carriers
Despite data showing that commercial drivers are at fault in serious truck-car accidents far less often than the drivers of passenger cars, lawsuits against motor carriers have increased at a “nearly exponential pace,” according to the American Trucking Research Institute (ATRI).
“When it comes to the trucking industry, basically they look at it at first that it’s the truck driver’s fault,” said Mike Powers, director of fleet safety at Byrne Dairy in New York. “They look at the driver first, being in the bigger unit, and then they try to piece it together.”
Moreover, verdicts against carriers are getting larger. The ATRI report cited above found:
- Between 2010 and 2018, the average verdict award increased more than 61% annually. At the same time, inflation and healthcare costs grew just 1.7% and 2.9%.
- There were 26 cases involving awards of more than $1 million in the first five years of the analyzed data; in the last five years, there were nearly 300. The number of verdicts exceeding $10 million almost doubled in that time.
- For verdicts exceeding $1 million, the average size increased 967% – from about $2.3 million to nearly $22.3 million.
When a truck driver is in an accident, a dash cam acts as an unbiased witness to what happened before, during and after the crash. Often, footage will show that the commercial driver is not at fault – which, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, is the case more than 80 percent of the time.
“You really have to have the right tools of investigation and the right tools of evidence to be able to prove and take advantage of those statistics. They’re highly in your favor. They’re highly in your driver’s favor. But it’s really important to have the right information.”,” Jim Angel, EROAD’s Vice President of Video Telematics, said during a webinar on fleet dash cams benefits.
Protect Against Fraud
More and more, however, carriers are using dash cam footage to help expose staged-accident fraud, protect their businesses and safeguard the industry.
Speed Up Settlements
ATRI found that the longer it takes to settle a case, the more expensive it becomes. So, the sooner a carrier can determine that their driver is at fault in a crash, the better it is for the bottom line. Dash cam footage helps carriers quickly make that determination and begin the settlement process.
“The more quickly we can get a liability determination in the life of that claim, the less likely it will turn into a much larger dollar claim,” said Dan Petrillo of LaPorte Insurance, one of EROAD’s strategic partners.
Related: Expert Q&A: Dash Cams and Insurance
Protect CSA Scores
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program to help identify high-risk motor carriers. And carriers with high CSA scores are more likely to get flagged for compliance audits, roadside inspections and other interventions. When a driver is involved in an accident, it affects the carrier’s CSA score.
However, the FMCSA’s Crash Preventability Determination Program provides carriers with an avenue to have unpreventable accidents removed from their scores by supplying evidence that there was no way for their driver to avoid the crash. Dash cam footage can go a long way in supporting a carrier’s case that a crash was not their driver’s fault and was unavoidable, potentially increasing the possibility that the accident will be removed from their CSA score.
Trucking companies that can show they have taken steps to increase fleet safety that exceed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) are looked at more favorably by juries, according to the ATRI report. Adding fleet dash cams shows a carrier’s commitment to safety, as video footage can be used to train and coach drivers on safety-critical events and support safe-driving incentive programs.
Dash Cam Benefits for Commercial Drivers
Many of the benefits and protections that fleet dash cams provide to carriers also extend to drivers. And the potential for exoneration after an accident tops the list. Drivers who are wrongly blamed for accidents face a host of issues, from legal complications to problems finding a job in the future. Dash cam footage can quickly establish blame after a crash, often clearing the commercial driver. Likewise, dash cam video provides protection for drivers in cases where they are targeted by staged-accident scammers.
In addition to exoneration, dash cam footage can add context to other data collected by in-cab telematics to the benefit of drivers. For instance, if a driver gets cut off and harsh braking is detected, video will show that the driver was not responsible for the safety-critical event.
Finally, video from dash cams can help protect drivers against less serious claims. If someone wrongly says a driver caused property damage with their truck, dash cam footage will show the truth. Or, if a driver arrives on time for a delivery, but the gates are locked or no one is around to receive the load, dash cam video will document the circumstances.
Getting Driver Buy-In for Fleet Dash Cams
It’s important to note that drivers may be wary of having cameras installed in their cabs, especially dash cams that are driver-facing and record audio. When adding dash cams to your fleet, it’s crucial to explain how they protect drivers from wrongful claims.
A study by the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence found that carriers using dash cams had a much easier time getting their drivers exonerated. And one carrier cited in the study said that the driver exoneration benefit was key to getting drivers on board with in-cab cameras.
In addition to explaining how dash cams benefit drivers, carriers should be upfront about how the cameras work, what is being recorded and when. Also, drivers should understand who will be able to access footage and how it will be used.
Finally, selecting a camera that is easy to use is important. Drivers already have enough to do. Don’t add camera operation to their list of tasks. Ideally, your fleet dash cam choice wouldn’t require any hands-on interaction on the part of the driver.
Related: 5 Ways Dash Cams Protect Drivers
Most Important Fleet Dash Cam Features
The biggest return on investment that fleet dash cams provide is helping to establish fault in accidents to either quickly clear your driver or to expedite a settlement, reducing the overall cost of the incident. So, it’s best to keep those things in mind when selecting a camera for your fleet.Here are some key dash cam considerations
Ease of Use
If a camera is difficult to operate, chances are it won’t get used. Or it may become a distraction for drivers. When selecting a dash cam, look for a model that records and transmits video clips automatically.
The EROAD Clarity Dashcam
Compact, rugged and tamper resistant, Clarity does not impede a driver’s field of vision and is designed to excel under the extreme conditions and temperatures that trucks operate in.
From installation to in-cab operation and retrieving video, Clarity is among the most easy-to-use dash cams available. When the truck is running, so is Clarity – recording continuously, even when out of cellular coverage.
The camera can be used in front-facing or dual front/driver-facing modes and captures high-definition video. Optional audio recording is available. The connected device sends 20-second video clips back to EROAD in real time when triggered automatically by safety events – such as harsh braking, sharp cornering and sharp acceleration – or manually by the driver pushing a button on the dashboard.
Clarity is integrated with the EROAD fleet management solution, and clips are made available for review in a video review center, MyEROAD Replay. Video clips are displayed with speed graphs and safety event data to make incident investigation easy.
Each video clip captures 10 seconds before and after the triggering event. Videos can be shared easily within the organization for review and with third parties for purposes of incident investigation and resolution.
Why Carriers Should Add Fleet Dashcams
Motor carriers are facing more accident-related lawsuits and larger verdicts than ever, even though commercial motor vehicle drivers are at fault far less often than the drivers of passenger cars. In some cases, commercial truck drivers are targeted by scammers who stage accidents to take advantage of this apparent anti-trucker bias.
Carriers who embrace safety measures that exceed compliance with FMCSRs are in a better position to shield their drivers and their businesses. Fleet dash cams are among the measures that carriers should consider.
Video evidence from dash cams can exonerate drivers, facilitate speedier settlements and enhance carriers’ training and coaching programs. Given the risk that carriers take on every time a truck leaves the yard, dash cams offer affordable protection and peace of mind.
EROAD: reliable, accurate and easy to use fleet technology
EROAD delivers accurate, consistent data to drive your business. Our easy-to-use tools help your drivers stay safe, productive and in compliance. And we give you the support you need on the road and in the office to keep processes and loads moving, turning complex fleet data into better fleet performance.
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