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Matt Brett

Dashcams Bring Driver Safety into View – But They Have Limitations

Any time your trucks leave your facility, your business is in the hands of your drivers. How seriously they take that responsibility – meeting customer needs, preserving your positive reputation, complying with your safety program, and protecting your company assets – is something you cannot leave to chance.

And, if in the unfortunate event an accident occurs, in addition to the potential injury or tragic loss of human life and the psychological toll on a driver and others involved, the costs can also be significant. The U.S. Department of Transportation has estimated that the average cost of a fatal crash involving a large truck is more than $3.6 million. Even non-fatal crashes can cost nearly $200,000. Plus, there’s an immeasurable negative impact on your company’s reputation.

Trusting your drivers to operate your vehicles safely has long been an article of faith. But technology, in the form of dashcams, has made it possible to “ride-along” with your drivers to confirm they are operating your expensive equipment safely and, in turn, keeping themselves and other drivers safe.

While dashcams are a powerful component of a telematics toolkit, they are only as valuable as how effectively they are deployed and utilized.

Understanding Dashcams

Dashcams can offer as many as eight different camera views. The two most popular views are front view, road-facing cameras, which capture the driver’s view of the road in high definition, and rear view, driver-facing cameras, trained on the driver to show them in action behind the wheel. When incorporated into your company’s telematics system, Dashcams can provide a comprehensive view of your drivers at work. They can also include alerts for distracted driving, collision warnings, and other technology-enabled safety features. 

While it is ideal to have cameras installed in your vehicles, there are some drawbacks. You’ll want to address the following considerations before you introduce dashcams as part of your fleet safety program:

You need driver buy-in.

Given the tight labor market, mishandling the introduction of dashcams could put you at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting and retaining drivers.

Experienced drivers, especially those with long, favorable safety records, might balk at suddenly being under surveillance when they are behind the wheel, especially if the company does a poor job of explaining why the cameras are being deployed and how they will be used. The development of a mentorship program, where an experienced driver with a positive safety record is paired with a newer driver, can help encourage the experienced driver to take ownership of their on-camera behavior behind the wheel as an example to others.

You undoubtedly will have compelling business reasons to install dashcams, including helping to protect drivers and provide confirmation that they acted safely in an accident. But you can’t leave your motives to chance. You need to transparently communicate to your drivers why you install dashcams and how they will help protect them. You also need to be forthcoming on how the information the cameras capture will be used.

Dashcams aren’t a quick fix for bad driver behavior.

Unsafe drivers won’t transform overnight into safe drivers just because they know their vehicle is outfitted with cameras and are aware their actions are being captured on video.

But dashcams are invaluable for confirming drivers are driving safely and smartly. And pairing dashcam footage reviews with a coach or mentor can help promote a positive behavior change if unsafe driving is detected.

Dashcams by themselves aren’t a safety program.

Installing dashcams might seem like a slam dunk, as they can capture – and provide opportunities to correct – incidents such as distracted driving or the driver not wearing a seatbelt. Cameras can also be integrated with technology that monitors heavy braking, harsh maneuvering, and aggressive driving habits before they turn into accidents. But where many companies run into trouble is in believing dashcams constitute a complete fleet safety program.

Dashcams are not a standalone solution but an enhancement to your safety program. Even with dashcams installed, drivers will still need to be educated about expectations, evaluated using the right metrics to rate and benchmark their driving behavior, receive coaching on safe driving, and be provided with safe, well-maintained equipment.

An Invaluable Tool

Because you must entrust your business to your drivers every day, you need to ensure their safety while protecting your equipment and your company’s good name. It’s why dashcams should be part of any connected fleet’s technology package and fleet safety program. And if they are implemented properly, and you adopt them with a realistic understanding of what they can and can’t do, you will find that dashcams are worth every penny you invest in this powerful technology.