What do NASCAR’s 1979 Daytona 500, the 2001 Fast and the Furious movie, and a featured article found on page 92 of the 1939 Popular Science magazine have in common?

The pioneering and innovation of an in-vehicle camera.

Dash cams in the 1930s? In the 1970s? Yes, they existed. They just looked very different from the dash cam today’s driver uses. We have come a long way since then.

Today, truck dash cams are used by trucking businesses to improve driver behavior, increase fleet safety, and make driver coaching sessions more efficient and productive. Let’s learn about the best features of the modern dash cam as we discuss G-Force, WDR technology, GPS, telematics for your fleet and Motive’s Smart Dashcam.

What is a dashboard camera?

Dashboard cameras are video cameras attached to a vehicle dashboard, the inside of the windshield, rearview mirror or nearby surface.

There are front and rear mounts, as well as side, interior, and exterior cameras — and they can be powered by the vehicle’s electrical system or battery-operated.

How dash cams are used in the trucking industry

Truck related violations and collisions are a major expense for vehicle fleets of any size. Video recording of driver behavior can help fleet managers recognize unsafe driving habits, aiding in the development of driver training and increased safety.

Learn more about how dash cams are used in the trucking industry.

How dash cams can increase ROI for your business

Collisions, repairs, and injuries can cost your business tens of thousands of dollars per incident. The FMCSA reported in 2017 that the average collision costs $91,000, the average injury from a collision costs $200,000, and the average fatal collision costs $3.6 million.

Dashboard camera video is extremely valuable following a collision when the involved parties dispute what happened and disagree on who was at fault.

Learn more about how dash cams can increase ROI for your business.

The best dash cam benefits for your fleet

Using dash cameras for your fleet can protect you and your drivers from wrongful claims, prove your innocence to the authorities, and increase your bottom line.

Let’s look at a few ways they benefit fleets.

Record collisions

Drivers may have completely different stories when it comes to describing a collision. Law enforcement and insurance carriers may have to weigh one driver’s word against the other’s.

An actual recording of the incident can be compelling evidence. Any fleet owner will appreciate seeing anything that could potentially exonerate an innocent driver.

Driver risk management systems (DRMS)

Inward-facing, or driver-facing, cameras are called driver risk management systems, or DRMS. Some versions of DRMS can monitor when a driver is texting, eating, or possibly falling asleep.

Most DRMS systems have a microphone inside the cab, real-time GPS tracking, and a monitoring system that reports how fast the truck is moving and any near-miss collisions.

Crash for cash

One of the best dash cam benefits is that it can provide important evidence of what really happened if your driver is involved in a staged collision scam.

Record incidents when you are away from the truck

Most dash cams can be set to record even without the engine being on. If you are away from the truck or in the sleeper berth, you can still keep an eye on your truck.

Training and coaching

With a dash cam, you can see exactly what the driver sees when they are behind the wheel. This is a great opportunity to coach newer drivers without having to be in the truck with them. Using video, you can go back and review errors and make suggestions for improved driving habits.

Dash cam frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Who uses dash cams?

Widespread use of cameras in automobiles in the US began with law-enforcement in the 1980s. Today, many police and fire vehicles, ambulances and school buses have them installed.

What is a professional dash cam?

Professional dash cams are commercial-grade, designed for long hours of use and able to handle bumps and jolts. The best dash cams for trucks are plug-and-play (easy to install), high-definition cameras that work seamlessly with the ELD fleet management system.

What about dash cams that record audio?

You may have heard of a Garmin dash cam or other brands that automatically record audio. Those that record audio fall in a gray area, as eavesdropping is illegal in many states. Let’s take a look at an example.

Let’s say your delivery driver has stopped at a customer’s location and the dash cam has a built-in mic. The business owner is having a conversation with one of her clients and the mic picks up the conversation and saves the audio. Is this eavesdropping? Technically, it is!

There are two best practices that may help your business avoid legal issues*:

Mutable mics

If your dash cam has an on/off switch for its built-in mic, simply turn off the microphone when in earshot of people who have not agreed to be recorded.

Waiver form or verbal agreement

If you find yourself in range of another person’s conversation, advise them that your dash cam is recording the conversation so that they have the option to either agree to being recorded, or to move the conversation someplace else.

*Motive does not offer any legal advice.

5 ways to choose the best dash cam in 2023

Choosing the best dash cam can be a daunting task for anyone. You want to spend your money on the right product and end up with a reliable device that does what you need it to do.

A consumer might be able to opt for a dash cam that can be purchased on Amazon, but a commercial driver has different considerations. As a professional driver, your safety and that of your vehicle and cargo are essential. Here are the five key features to consider when choosing a dash cam for use in a commercial vehicle in 2023.

  1. Notifications: Choose a dash cam that has persistent and highly noticeable written and/or audible warnings to let you know when the camera has failed and is no longer able to record. The warning message should be large on the screen and not disappear until you clear the notification.
  2. Type: Dash cams come in basic, advanced, and smart models. In other words, low-cost, reliable, and high-performance.
  3. Wide dynamic range (WDR): WDR is a high-performance option. Cameras with WDR technology have advanced sensors that produce a wider range of lighting. That means that the camera will capture several shots of the scene at different exposure levels, creating overexposed and underexposed identical images, which the camera will combine. WDR technology can help you capture quality videos and high level detail, such as license plate numbers, at night — a huge benefit when you need evidence for your insurance company or the police in the event of an incident.
  4. Dash cam G-sensor: Commonly referred to as an accelerometer, a G-sensor in a dash cam will monitor acceleration, aka G-force. When a high performance dash camera detects a change in direction, impact from a collision, hard braking or even someone rocking the vehicle, it will switch to event mode and record the footage in a protected section of memory for later retrieval. Depending on the brand of dash cam, recording will generally begin 10 seconds before an incident, through to a minute after. The benefit of a dash cam with G-sensor technology is the ability to automatically record crucial footage without intervention from the driver.
  5. Compatibility with existing telematics: If your company uses or plans to use telematics to monitor information about drivers’ activities, habits, and whereabouts, then choosing a cellular vehicle camera offers additional benefits.

The best dash cam to protect your drivers and your fleet

Dash cams have come a long way in recent decades. Today, they not only protect drivers, they offer training opportunities and an avenue for helping the driver do a better job.

The best dash cams are plug-n-play, easy to operate, automated, and integrated with the fleet’s ELD solution. The number and position of cameras is customizable, and the best systems give fleets the ability to remotely access stored video.

  • See what your drivers see: Capture the video that you and your drivers need to protect your business from the uncertainty of the road.
  • Access all videos remotely: Remotely retrieve any video footage stored locally on the dashcam that isn’t associated with a harsh acceleration, brake, or concerning event.
  • Dual-facing Smart Dashcam: With both forward-facing and inward-facing cameras, Motive’s next-generation dash cam streamlines coaching, helps protect drivers, and will intelligently provide drivers with safety alerts.

Learn more about Motive’s Smart Dashcam.