- Dashboard cameras (dash cams) record video and can provide helpful evidence after on-the-road incidents
- Some dash cams can record other data such as speed, acceleration, deceleration, G-force, and GPS location
Nowadays, it seems there are cameras everywhere, from doorbell cameras to in-store security to cameras mounted on street corners. But perhaps one camera that has become the most popular in recent years is the dashboard-mounted camera for vehicles, better known as a dashboard camera or a dash cam.
Passenger cars are at fault in 84 percent of car-truck collisions (the number is even higher for head-on collisions). A dash cam shows the driver seat view of the collision and can serve a very important function in exonerating drivers who are not at fault.
Dashboard cameras are generally mounted on the windshield, but some models actually mount to the dash or mirror. Some provide both a forward-facing and driver-facing view. The data recorded by the dash cam can be stored on the camera on internal storage. Some cameras can also upload recorded data to the cloud for accessing remotely by a fleet admin or safety manager.
Most truck dash cams also feature high-resolution video (1080p), which can be useful in identifying license plate numbers and other details.
Consumer dash cams vs. commercial dash cams
Consumer dash cams for cars tend to vary greatly from those made for commercial use. The main difference is in the features. While many consumer models are basic, offering front-facing views and limited data storage, commercial dash cams for businesses are much more robust.
Information and video gathered by a commercial dash cam can be uploaded automatically to the cloud and downloaded and monitored by the manager or owner. The most advanced dash cams also record speed, acceleration/deceleration, G-force, and GPS location. All of this information can create coaching opportunities. For example, if the dash cam records a hard braking event, the manager can evaluate the circumstances and help the driver learn to avoid similar situations in the future.
Business owners can use dash cam footage to coach drivers on safer driving techniques, especially when the dash cam is part of an overall fleet safety solution.
Why do we need dash cams in trucks?
In addition to driver safety and coaching, perhaps the most compelling reason for purchasing a dash cam system is to exonerate your truck drivers after an incident. Remember, the majority of truck-car collisions are caused by the car driver.
Without video evidence, you may be left with a “he said, she said” matter. You may even be tempted to offer a monetary settlement, if only to avoid the higher cost of a court case.
How much money can a fleet save with dash cam evidence? One company estimated that they saved upwards of $500,000 in legal and settlement costs with their dash cam footage that exonerated their driver after a collision.
Dash cams can offer visual proof of who was at fault in an incident, and that evidence has been successfully used in court to exonerate drivers and help the company avoid costly settlements.
Some insurance companies offer discounts in premiums for companies that have installed dash cams for their fleet. This, in addition to the savings in potential court settlements, can amount to large monetary savings for companies.
According to a 2019 FreightWaves survey, these are the main reasons fleet owners cite for purchasing a dash cam system for their fleets:
- Over 61 percent of respondents cited discounts on insurance premiums and a decrease in insurance claims
- Almost 50 percent gave the reason as improved CSA scores
- Nearly 40 percent of responding companies said they have seen lower insurance premiums since installing dash cams.
Dash cams can save your company money in other ways too. According to the FMCSA, the average collision costs around $91,000. The average collision involving an injury costs upwards of $200,000, and if there is a fatality involved, the average cost is about $3.6 million.
What to look for when buying a dash cam system for your fleet
When it comes time to purchase a dash cam system and the accompanying services, you’ll find many options and brands available. It’s important to keep in mind exactly how your company will utilize the dash cam, and which services are the most important.
Here are a few important considerations:
- Some systems are front-facing only; others also capture a view of the driver (dual-facing)
- A premium dash cam system allows you to access videos remotely
- The best truck dash cams trigger recording when hard braking, hard acceleration, and hard cornering occurs
- These triggers can offer opportunities for driver coaching to improve driving habits
- You will need ample internal storage to store videos, or a system that automatically uploads footage to the office
- Good dash cams for fleets offer cloud-based storage
- The best dash cams for fleets are easy to install and plug-and-play
- A good dash cam will provide relevant trip details like the GPS location and history, speed, and heading.
The Motive Smart Dashcam
The Motive Smart Dashcam is an affordable, plug-and-play system that improves operational efficiency for a company’s entire fleet.
The Motive system features event video recording in HD. It also allows managers to see driver performance so they can be coached when critical events occur. It’s plug-and-play, which makes it easy to install.
The Smart Dashcam connects to your Vehicle Gateway with a USB connection. The resulting video can be viewed on the Motive dashboard in minutes once a critical event is detected. A manager can retrieve any video from the past 35 hours of driving time, regardless of whether it was triggered by an event.
Learn more by reading our Ultimate guide to dash cams.