Jan 4, 2024

How Cameras Benefit Fleets by Reducing Liability and Improving Operations

Cameras have become an integral part of modern-day society, capturing moments and memories in both personal and professional settings. However, their usage extends far beyond just preserving memories. In recent years, cameras have been increasingly implemented in fleet management, providing numerous benefits and advantages.

From reducing liability to improving operations, cameras have become an essential tool for fleet managers looking to enhance their performance and efficiency.

In this article, we will explore the ways in which cameras benefit fleets and how they can play a crucial role in streamlining and optimizing fleet operations.

By incorporating cameras into their vehicles, fleet managers can not only mitigate potential risks and liabilities but also gain valuable insights into their daily operations. Join us as we delve into the world of fleet cameras and discover the significant impact they have on the modern-day fleet management landscape.

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Has Become Widely Adopted

The utilization of cameras on heavy-duty trucks has become widely adopted as more and more fleets have incorporated forward- and inward-facing cameras in order to train drivers and minimize liability.

Now, the latest advanced camera technology is taking this a step further by assisting carriers in capturing additional perspectives, gaining new insights, and extracting more operational value from video.

Rajesh Rudraradhya, the Chief Technology Officer at video telematics provider Lytx, stated, "If we consider each industry separately, they are all discovering innovative ways to utilize video to enhance fleet safety and other non-safety use cases. It is actually providing value beyond just changing behavior.

In the past, we used to educate fleets on the reasons why they need video and how it can exonerate drivers and modify their behavior. However, now fleets approach us, share their requirements, and inquire about how we can solve their problems."

Jean-Sébastien Bouchard, the Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Sales at telematics provider Isaac Instruments, explained that the main reason fleets implement cameras remains the same - to understand what occurred after a crash and assist with legal processes. Nevertheless, they are also utilizing the technology to drive improvements in their operations.

"Now that they have a camera capturing the events, they are actively leveraging the videos collected by their systems to support their safety culture," he said.

A Rapid Adoption of Road-Facing and Driver-Facing Cameras

According to Mark Schedler, a senior editor at J. J. Keller & Associates, a regulatory compliance firm specializing in transport, the trucking industry has seen a rapid adoption of road-facing and driver-facing cameras over the past five years. This surge in usage can be attributed to the decrease in prices and the simultaneous improvement in quality.

The integration of artificial intelligence and computer vision has revolutionized the way these cameras operate, providing valuable context and real-time alerts to drivers. This advanced technology allows for the identification of potential risks both inside the truck cabin and on the road, enhancing driver awareness and safety.

Abhishek Gupta, the vice president of product at Motive (formerly known as KeepTruckin), emphasizes that these advancements ultimately promote better driver behavior in the long run. By rapidly identifying safety hazards, fleets are able to take proactive measures instead of reacting to incidents after they occur.

Ingo Wiegand, the vice president of products at Samsara, another provider of fleet telematics, highlights the significant impact of real-time assistance for drivers. With the help of these cutting-edge cameras, fleet managers can detect if drivers are following speed limits, tailgating, or even using their phones while driving, thereby addressing potential distractions and improving overall safety.

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Capable of Detecting

According to Bouchard, Isaac's camera technology is capable of detecting posted speed limits, even in construction zones where these speed limits may not be listed in a database. Additionally, the cameras are able to identify stop signs. Bouchard also mentioned that the cameras are able to monitor drivers who perform rolling stops.

Matthew Carter, a sales engineering manager at Trimble, a transportation technology firm, explained that artificial intelligence (AI) has the ability to detect various driving behaviors, such as lane departures and drowsy driving. He noted that the current trend in video intelligence systems is the increasing use of AI in innovative ways. This has led to a rise in the adoption of inward-facing cameras, particularly with the integration of AI features.

Lytx, on the other hand, has developed key features to assist in identifying potential risks associated with weather and road conditions. Rudraradhya, a representative from Lytx, mentioned that their system provides alerts based on the appropriate speed for the prevailing conditions the driver is facing.

Lytx has recently introduced an innovative feature called the unsafe parking alert, which aims to address the issue of drivers parking in hazardous locations such as off-ramps. Additionally, Lytx utilizes publicly available crash data and anonymized client information to assess the risks associated with different routes.

Assign their Most Skilled Drivers

According to Rudraradhya, the company has empowered its users to assign their most skilled truck drivers to specific routes based on the level of risk involved. This personalized approach ensures that the driver with the most suitable driving skills and experience is assigned to each route.

By leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), Lytx is able to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of safety by taking into account situational factors. For instance, the conditions and context of a driver traveling locally may vary greatly from those of a driver traveling across the country.

As a result, it is crucial to consider these contextual differences when evaluating safety.

Unlike traditional video safety systems that treat all instances of speeding or following too closely equally, some systems now assess the level of safety risk involved. For example, a video safety program called SmartDrive, offered by Solera, only alerts the fleet when a hard brake is deemed to carry a significant risk.

This risk assessment is made by identifying and annotating potential risks, which are then integrated into the fleet's workflow.

A Role in Enabling Proactive Decision-Making

AI also plays a role in enabling proactive decision-making in fleet management. According to Mayank Sharma, head of global product management at Teletrac Navman, fleet technology vendor, users can configure alerts to be real-time, near real-time, or post hoc.

This increased flexibility and customizability of systems allow fleet managers to make informed decisions based on the specific needs of their operations.

Cascade Environmental, a renowned field services contractor and operator of a private fleet, has adopted Motive's cutting-edge cameras as a valuable intervention and coaching tool. Hailing from Bothell, Washington, this industry leader utilizes the power of AI to accurately discern driver actions, pinpoint potential hazards, and offer timely alerts for necessary interventions.

Alex Amort, the esteemed Vice President of Compliance at Cascade Environmental, emphasizes the efficiency and productivity AI brings to the table. By precisely determining driver behaviors and recognizing risky actions, the AI-powered cameras serve as an invaluable resource to identify critical areas that demand attention and corrective measures.

With this state-of-the-art technology in place, Cascade Environmental can focus on their significant responsibilities without wasting time monitoring irrelevant footage. Amort confidently asserts that his time is better spent on more crucial tasks, further highlighting the company's commitment to prioritizing efficiency and maximizing their impact in the field.

A Sharper Focus on Safety

Video telematics providers play a crucial role in assisting fleet customers in monitoring safety trends and effectively managing risks. By analyzing data, these providers can identify the most common or prevalent behaviors that need attention and prioritize them accordingly.

This is particularly helpful for fleets with limited safety teams and a large number of drivers, as it simplifies the process of focusing on the most crucial areas.

Trimble, for example, goes beyond just video metrics and incorporates engine data, safety scores, driver behavior metrics, real-time speeding evaluations, and hours-of-service records. This comprehensive approach provides fleets with a valuable long-term perspective on the safety performance of each driver, enabling them to recognize and address any ongoing safety concerns or habits.

In order to make this data analysis more efficient, providers like Isaac strive to reduce the amount of videos and images that fleet customers need to review. They collaborate with fleets to empower drivers with self-coaching techniques, allowing them to become more autonomous in their safety practices.

By minimizing the number of touch points required, this approach optimizes the use of resources and makes the entire process smoother for fleet managers and drivers alike.

Overall, the integration of video telematics and data analysis enables fleet customers to gain valuable insights into their safety practices, prioritize areas of improvement, and adopt measures to mitigate risks effectively.

Innovative Real-Time Coaching System

Tucker Freight Lines, a reputable trucking company located in Dubuque, Iowa, has implemented Isaac's innovative real-time coaching system within their vehicles. The fleet's risk and compliance manager, Lynn Berning, mentioned that some drivers are so proactive that they immediately contact their safety coach upon receiving an alert, even before the coach has a chance to review it.

The in-cab alerts provided by Isaac have proven to be highly effective in achieving quick wins, such as persuading drivers to refrain from using their cellphones while on the road. According to Rudraradhya from Lytx, there has been a remarkable 80% reduction in cellphone use among drivers.

Additionally, a combination alert is designed to warn drivers about cellphone usage and the risk of a potential collision. By monitoring the distance between the driver's vehicle and the one in front, the alert is triggered within three seconds if the following distance is deemed too close.

Another company, Samsara, incorporates voice directives into their system. Once the camera detects specific conditions, it promptly issues an in-cab audio alert instructing the driver to either put down their phone or increase the following distance. This personalized voice guidance carries great significance for commercial drivers, as they are frequently bombarded by various alerts and notifications. Thus, having a clear and directive voice helps drivers to focus on the necessary actions they need to take while on the road.

Driving Efficiency With Video Insights

Real-time coaching has the potential to deliver various enhancements in operations, with one notable improvement being fuel efficiency. According to Bouchard, by providing drivers with guidance on pedal usage and coasting when approaching stops, Isaac customers have reported saving an average of 5% across all aspects.

This percentage may seem small but, as Berning of Tucker Freight Lines explains, even a half or three-quarter-mile per-gallon improvement can have a significant impact on the company's overall profitability. For instance, if a fleet covers 3,000 miles per week, the fuel savings become noteworthy.

An illustrative example comes from Berning's fleet, where real-time coaching helped identify a driver who frequently made hard turns. Through coaching, this driver was able to reduce stress on the vehicle, resulting in better fuel efficiency.

Similarly, drivers at Cascade Environmental discovered that stopping and accelerating more gradually helped avoid unnecessary triggering events, thereby safeguarding equipment and improving uptime. These findings are particularly valuable for drivers operating overweight with a permit drill rig, as even marginal reductions in braking and wear and tear translate into significant cost savings.

Considering the high value of drill rigs, which can exceed $1 million, it is crucial to prevent downtime caused by poor driving behavior.

An Expanded View of the Road

Fleet operators are increasingly recognizing the need for a comprehensive view of their trucks' surroundings, as many potential hazards on the road occur outside the direct line of sight. Apart from the vehicles in adjacent lanes, there are also those approaching from the side or rear, as well as various other factors that can compromise the safety of commercial vehicles, according to Trimble's Carter.

As a result, around 40% of Isaac's customers are expressing interest in side cameras, as these can provide crucial video evidence to absolve fleets of responsibility in accidents involving objects or vehicles coming from the side, noted Bouchard. In fact, a driver at Rio Valley Biofuel Transport was successfully cleared of any blame when the driver-facing camera captured footage of another vehicle striking the trailer from the passenger and rear windows.

Furthermore, Motive's AI Omnicam offers monitoring capabilities for a truck's side, rear, passenger, and cargo areas, significantly enhancing overall safety and day-to-day operations, said Gupta.

Additionally, video footage can extend beyond the cab to capture drivers' activities outside the vehicle, providing valuable insights for fleet operators to understand how injuries occur and whether employees are following standard operating procedures and best practices, added Griswold from Solera.

AI and Reducing Risk

Teletrac Navman's Sharma explained that the integration of artificial intelligence into side cameras can unlock a range of new functionalities, including the ability to identify pedestrians. He noted that certain countries have regulations mandating the use of this technology, and Teletrac Navman already offers it in five regions, with plans to expand into the U.S. where appropriate.

In addition to pedestrian detection, the use of additional camera views can help prevent theft and assist in identifying criminals. Law enforcement agencies can leverage this technology to capture the faces of perpetrators or obtain information about the involved vehicle's year, make, and model.

Recent advancements in camera technology have resulted in improved capabilities and more affordable high-definition videos, which offer greater detail. For instance, in the event of an impact, the enhanced video quality now enables the reading of license plates on surrounding vehicles, providing valuable information that was previously inaccessible.

A survey conducted by J. J. Keller in 2019 revealed that almost 30% of fleets using dashcams and video-enabled driver coaching received insurance premium discounts. Some insurance providers have gone a step further and made camera systems a requirement for obtaining coverage due to their significant impact in reducing claims and losses.

However, it is important to note that merely having a camera onboard is not sufficient. The key lies in leveraging the camera's capabilities effectively to enhance safety and operational performance.

In Conclusion

Incorporating cameras into fleet operations has numerous benefits for companies. Not only do they help reduce liability by providing evidence in case of accidents or disputes, but they also help improve overall operations by providing valuable insights and data.

With the advancement of technology, cameras are becoming more affordable and accessible, making it a worthwhile investment for any fleet. By implementing cameras, companies can increase safety, efficiency, and ultimately, save time and money.

It is clear that cameras are a valuable tool for fleets and should be considered as an essential component of any successful fleet operation.

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