Dashboard Cameras: Eye in the Sky

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Over the past few years, dashboard cameras have become increasingly sophisticated. Photo Adobe Stock

Limit liability, reduce costs and boost driver safety by adding dashboard cameras to your telematics system.

According to Grand View Research, a consulting firm headquartered in San Francisco, “The global dashboard camera market size was valued at USD $3.38 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 9.5% from 2022 to 2030.”

The aggressive growth of the dashboard camera market should make fleet professionals pause and consider whether it would make sense to jump on the dashboard camera bandwagon and invest in these systems for their own fleets.

Many fleet managers find that dashboard cameras help them limit liability and reduce costs. According to Grand View, “The industry growth is attributed to the rising awareness about vehicular safety, quicker insurance claims, and protection against rising vehicle thefts.”

Distracted driving

Sasha Arasteh, E-mobility and Services Manager–America, for Shell Fleet Solutions is seeing a definite uptick in requests for dashboard cameras from her customers.

“They’re definitely becoming more popular,” she says. “If you had asked me three years ago, I would say that maybe some of the really large fleets that have hours-of-service mandates, or that have had a big safety incident, maybe they have dash cams. Now, I would tell you that 80% of the time, dash cams are coming up in conversations with our customers.”

Over the past few years, dashboard cameras have become increasingly sophisticated. Besides keeping an eye on the road ahead or on a truck’s load behind, they watch the driver to determine if they’re distracted, which is one of the most important risk factors for drivers, Arasteh explains. “Distracted driving could be eating, looking down, cell phone use, falling asleep, or fatigue,” she adds.

Dashboard cameras not only spot bad behaviour, but they also arm fleet managers with the insight and information they need in order to take proactive measures to address driver behaviour issues.

“You can start to make some really insightful decisions,” Arasteh says. “Maybe you need to think about how long your drivers work because distracted driving is rooted in fatigue. Maybe you need to talk to your drivers about cell phone use. So in this sense, a dash cam can be a driver-coaching tool.”

Dashboard cameras work in conjunction with fleet telematics to give the manager a full picture of what happened and why. “With a dash cam, I not only see the trip history from a telematics standpoint, but I also see the video footage associated with that trip,” Arasteh adds. “So now, that becomes really powerful because I can see exactly what happened. If there’s a harsh-braking incident, for example, I now know why. The camera footage tells me that three seconds before the incident, the driver was looking down. Now I see the whole picture, I’m able to put the whole story together, and I can have a really meaningful and robust conversation with that driver.”

Policies & possibilities

Adding dashboard cameras to a fleet requires planning. From camera options to policy issues and implementation to management considerations, Frank Daccardi, Manager, CIS Telematics at Holman says that there’s a lot to think about and consider before pulling the trigger on a camera system.

“There are systems that have a dash cam that only faces outward towards the road, there are systems that have both outward facing and inward facing cameras, and there are systems that have multiple cameras,” he explains. “So you’ll have to think about what’s right for your fleet. If you think about the heavy-duty trucks that pull trailers, you could have a camera on the exterior of the cab that’s looking back at the trailer. In the event that it loses its load, you could see what’s going on back there and document what happened.”

Daccardi explains that each fleet manager must consider whether dashboard cameras will be a good fit overall for their organization, as well as which type of cameras might be acceptable to all stakeholders. “You’ll need to consider what will and won’t be a good fit culturally within your organization, as well as how dash cams will fit your existing policies,” he adds. “Are you in an environment where you have unionized employees? Are there any privacy concerns because of existing policies? Would you have to develop a policy to speak specifically to what your use cases are with this type of technology?”

Once all those hurdles are dealt with, Daccardi says fleet managers need to give some thought to how they will use the information their dashboard cameras collect. “How do you plan to action it? What is the recourse should you uncover certain issues where you would need to take action? Also, who is going to manage that process? Will you be using your own internal staff, or will you use outside help? There’s a lot to consider with dash cams.”

Before making any recommendations, Daccardi helps his fleet customers think through their dashboard camera needs, and what they hope to get out of the technology. “I talk to them about what they’re trying to accomplish. Was there some catalyst on the part of the organization that’s precipitating this desire to use this technology? We ask questions that allow our clients to think about why they may need this technology. It’s really helpful to consult with clients to understand what they’re trying to accomplish, and what challenges may be limiting them. For example, if a contingent of your vehicles is operated by unionized employees, you may actually need a different approach than if a subset of your vehicles is not bound by those same requirements.”

The popularity of dashboard cameras is forecast to grow, which means that with time, a growing number of fleets will likely add this technology to their existing telematic systems. Video evidence can be valuable whenever an incident occurs, and the collected data can help management to take proactive steps to avoid possible incidents and accidents in the future. Nonetheless, it’s a technology that requires forethought and planning, as well as professional advice in order to implement successfully and correctly.


Categories : Editorial, Fleet
Tags : Technology


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