Dashcams: Friend or Foe?
Fleet managers expect initial resistance from drivers when they implement forward-facing and driver-facing video recorders. Drivers balk at what they perceive as an invasion of privacy and, for many, dash cams conjure up images of big brother.
However, there—s been strong interest from fleets, and more are installing these cameras in their trucks.
SmartDrive Systems announced record growth in 2014 and said it expanded its customer base by 45 percent. Con-way Freight just installed Lytx—s DriveCam in its 8,500 vehicles.
Dash cams, for better or worse, may join electronic logging devices as more than an emerging trend in safety and training. Most manufacturers of these cameras say they are designed to record only seconds before and after an event such as hard braking, lane departure or an accident. And they say the camera can—t be triggered from fleet headquarters.
Dash cams can help fleets and drivers in two ways. They can be used to help determine probable cause in the case of an accident. A large percentage of accidents involving cars and trucks are the fault of the driver of the car, not the trucker, so drivers may find it beneficial to have visual evidence of what the driver of a car did to cause the accident. Many drivers have been exonerated by their footage.
Fleet managers use the videos from camera-triggered events to train new drivers similar to the way coaches make professional athletes watch game film to see where they missed a block and how they can improve their performance. The videos are used as a driver-coaching tool by pointing out to a driver how he could have better handled a certain situation. Fleet managers can see the root cause of poor driver performance and target training to address specific areas and make the driver safer. Drivers may be unaware of their own bad habits, such as following too closely, until they are confronted with video footage.
No matter how one feels about the privacy issues, it—s likely to become a moot point. Like other safety options, this may eventually become a federal mandate. For now, it—s wise to evaluate dash cams for their potential benefits.
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