Should Your Fleet Use A Video Safety System?

With the proliferation of safety technologies available to the modern fleet, you may be wondering which technology is right for your needs. If there is one that has reached a significant level of maturity, it is in the area of video safety technologies.

Video monitoring technologies are no longer the byproduct of lab testing. They have taken such a hold mainly because they offer a number of advantages for fleets. Still, should trucking companies be doing more to hasten their adoption?

Low Penetration

Currently, video monitoring technology has only about 6 percent penetration within fleets nationwide. This leaves a whopping 94 percent of modern motor carriers currently evaluating or just starting to integrate video-monitoring solutions into their fleet operations.

For some, the answer lies in the insurance company. They hope that insurance companies will increasingly kick in discount or incentive programs to support a motor carrier’s initial investment in the systems – which comes at no small cost.

Take European countries as an example. The penetration rates in those countries come in almost at 70 to 80 percent, but insurance companies across the pond are more likely to offer upfront discounts. American insurers want to see rates drop as claims drop, as opposed to offering upfront incentives.

Did you know that Department of Transportation statistics show that almost three-fourths of all crashes involving a commercial motor vehicle are not the truck’s fault? And yet, motor carriers continually spend their hard-earned money on claims because they don’t have the video evidence required to witness the event.

Technology Evolves

It could be that fleets are holding on to their wallet waiting for the technology to continue to emerge. Admittedly, these are new technologies and many a fleet manager may want to see how the various technologies continue to evolve.

Most of the current technologies are still using low resolution cameras. In many cases, the resolution is so low that you cannot make out the license plate number on an adjacent vehicle.

The benefit to low resolution models lies in the data transmission capabilities. At a lower resolution, you can send data faster and take video for far longer.

For fleets who do utilize higher resolution imagery, they may get around the data streaming problem by keeping the video logged within the device and then downloading it when necessary, such as when a safety event occurs.

Some manufacturers have developed onboard cameras that record continuously, while others rely on specific triggers. If a truck driver brakes suddenly, the recording system may retain and backup 15 – 20 seconds of video preceding the incident.

Video clips can be uploaded, whether it be to settle a claim or coach a truck driver, as necessary. The fact is this: the sooner after an incident that you can coach the truck driver or respond to a claim, the better.

Privacy Concerns

While these technologies offer new solutions, they are not without concerns, especially where driver-facing cameras are concerned. A recent survey found that 91 percent of truck drivers are opposed to the use of driver-facing cameras.

One concern in using driver-facing cameras lies in the litigation aspect. Every shred of video recorded on a driver-facing camera could potentially be requested at discovery in a trial. An enterprising attorney could find every instance of a truck driver doing anything, from smoking to drinking coffee, and create enough doubt in a juror’s mind to sway the outcome of the trial.

If you are utilizing triggered video clips, then you only need store those recordings. This is one area where a driver-facing camera could be used with less risk. As long as you have a written policy outlining how the video is triggered and saved, you should be good to go.

In the end, video recording technologies are just one spoke in the safety wheel. But how sturdy is the wheel without all spokes in place? Give video technologies a second look and increase your fleet’s safety performance.