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Rise Of Dashcams & Their Impact On Safety

November 4, 2019

If you’ve managed a fleet for any length of time, you may have encountered accidents where it’s impossible to determine fault through evidence. In these cases, accident investigators must rely on eyewitness testimony to assign fault. You may have also had drivers who believed they were falsely accused of moving violations.

Without evidence, it’s hard to know who is right and who is wrong in these situations. Wouldn’t it be better to have a recording of everything that happens with your fleet vehicles on the road? That’s exactly the idea behind the rise of dashboard cameras, or dash cams.

Dashcam technology is making our roads safer, both for fleet drivers and for the public at large. What started out as simple video recording devices has come a long way. At first, a dashcam was a big, bulky box that took up a lot of your windshield space and provided grainy, often unusable footage. Today, most are just a few inches across and can even provide high-definition video.

Perhaps more importantly, the best dashcams now record in both directions. That is, they capture both the road in front of a vehicle and what was going on inside. Without this technology, you may not be able to defend your drivers when someone accuses them of distracted driving. And you might not know which drivers are distracted by their cell phone and not paying attention to the road. Not only that, dashcam footage can be instrumental in speeding up insurance claims, and even clearing your drivers of fault in many cases.

Lately, it’s become common to see dashcam footage on YouTube or even on the nightly news. Videos capturing near misses, fraudulent activity, and even touching moments have gone viral. People are beginning to see how valuable dashcams are in fighting false claims against them. This, combined with a general growth in concern for safety, has led to a rise in popularity across the country.

How Dash Cams Have Impacted Safety On The Road

According to the CDC, in 2017, 1,299 U.S. workers driving or riding in a motor vehicle on a public road died in a work-related crash (25% of all work-related deaths). Among these 1,299 deaths, the Transportation and Warehousing industry had the highest share (40%), followed by Construction (11%), Wholesale and Retail Trade (9%), and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting (7%). The highest proportion of roadway fatalities involved semi, tractor-trailer, and tanker trucks (38%), followed by pickup trucks (14%), delivery trucks/vans (11%) and automobiles (9%). With statistics like this, it’s vital for every fleet manager to be thinking about ways to mitigate their fleet’s accident risk. But are more cameras on the road really helping?

In the UK, about 1 in 5 motorists have dashcams in use. The Metropolitan Police have reported nearly 400 fewer collisions per month, year over year. And there has also been a 30% drop in traffic offense reports in a single year’s time. Here in the U.S., the Yale Tribune notes that simply having a dashcam installed makes drivers more responsible and mindful on the road, promoting safety for all.

What’s more, this rise in safety-conscious technology is a consumer-led trend. There’s no legal requirement for U.S. drivers to mount and use dashcams as they drive. But the rise in Youtube videos featuring dashcam footage has sparked an interest in the devices. Consumers are using them to help prove fault in accidents, to get better insurance rates or quicker claims, to enhance the security of their vehicles, to monitor teen driving behavior, and because having a second set of eyes creates a more secure feeling as we drive.

Benefits of a Dash Cam

Beyond consumer concerns, there are plenty of solid reasons for commercial fleets to implement dashcam technology in their vehicles. A fleet manager can’t be everywhere at once, but a dash cam can give you eyes inside and out of each of your cars, vans, or trucks as they go about their appointed routes.

Dashcams are a great way to help with driver training. Of course, you hope your drivers are practicing safe driving techniques, but today’s dashcam technology allows you to have eyes in the cab with them. A good commercial dashcam setup will also allow you to communicate with your drivers, allowing you to provide feedback in the moment and to correct unsafe behaviors before an accident happens.

A vital part of fleet management is risk assessment. Dashcams are instrumental in helping to determine risks across your entire fleet and, when integrated with GPS fleet tracking, can help you pinpoint exactly where the most hazardous situations exist. They can also show you inefficiencies and compliance-related risks in some cases.

Another area of your business where dashcams can be incredibly beneficial is insurance and claims. Dashcam footage is a great way to ensure your claims are processed quickly. The solid evidence they provide will make decisions that much easier for your insurance adjuster, and you’ll find the entire process is sped up considerably. Additionally, you may see lower insurance premiums resulting from adopting a dashcam program. But even if your insurance doesn’t factor this in, they’re worth the trouble, even if only for claims purposes.

You know about the normal, day-to-day occurrences your drivers may encounter on the road. But what about those unexpected events that could be difficult to explain to law enforcement or your insurance company? From wildlife encounters to shady characters attempting to extort money from your company fraudulently, a dashcam sees all and tells the story with a degree of accuracy that is both reliable and complete.

Of course, as with any technology, there are a few possible downfalls too. It’s important to remember that dashcams can be used against you as well. You’ll also need to check the laws regarding dashcams in your state as these can vary. In some states, though private drivers can use dash cams in their vehicles if they choose, commercial dash cams may be considered a breach of privacy for your drivers. Finally, they can be a possible distraction on the dashboard. This is why it’s important to look for a dash cam that’s small and unobtrusive. On the whole, most companies find that the benefits far outweigh any possible problems where commercial fleet dashcams are legal.

What Makes A Good Dash Cam

If you’ve made the decision to implement dashcams in your fleet, the first step is to find the right dash cam for your company’s needs. With a wide variety of devices on the market, each has its own features, strengths, and weaknesses. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for your new dashcam solution.

Some dash cams will automatically upload video footage to the cloud when there is unusual movement or an impact is detected. This way the footage is accessible even if the internal storage is recorded over. The feature ensures that you’ll always have the needed footage whenever it’s called for.

Then there are the standard technical specs. A good dash cam should include a video resolution of at least 1080p. It should be able to capture video footage in low light and ideally should include a night vision function. Storage capacity should be at least 32 gigabytes with long loop times in order to capture enough relevant footage to cover you should a situation arise.

You’ll want a camera with multiple lenses for front- and rear-facing coverage. This allows you to record what’s happening on the road, but also what’s happening in the driver’s seat. The camera should have built-in Wi-Fi for easy file transfer. And you will probably want a camera that features a parking mode, which is usually a time-lapse feature. This allows for surveillance when your vehicle isn’t in operation.

In the end, the question of dashcam usage is an important business decision. Be sure you do thorough research and choose a dashboard camera solution that works best for your fleet and covers its needs. Schedule a demo with our DashCam team today to learn how Azuga Fleet with DashCam can make your fleet safer and more profitable.