Making the decision to integrate video into your telematics offering can be daunting. Commercial fleets in Europe have historically faced unique challenges with regard to privacy regulations, so it’s only natural that any initiative related to recording driver behaviour will prompt concerns. Understanding the reservations that fleets may have – as well as those of their drivers – can help us to work out how they can be addressed.
Many different reasons are given for discounting video as an option. And yet the absence of video telematics technology has a significant impact upon road safety. Without it, it’s near impossible to reduce distracted driving and prevent other behaviours that can lead to road accidents. Here, Damian Penney, VP EMEA at Lytx, looks at some of the myths surrounding smart dashcams and how video is helping to achieve a safer, more efficient fleet.
‘‘Smart dashcams violate privacy regulations’’
Privacy has always been one of the biggest perceived barriers. Even though regulations vary from country to country, it’s still possible to achieve compliance wherever drivers find themselves by taking a considered approach, which understands both regulatory requirements and driver challenges. The first step before implementing video is to ensure organisations have smart rules in place that outline how the cameras will run, so everyone can mutually agree on their use. Then dashcams can be sourced which offer the appropriate flexibility and configurability to achieve those rules. This configurability might include disabling in-cab recording and only capturing road-facing video, or controlling access to footage. When you have the ability to configure video, you can strike the right balance between adhering to privacy concerns and keeping drivers safe.
In the late 90s, telematics was often perceived negatively as the ‘spy in the cab.’ Today, technological advancements and the involvement of drivers early in the process is changing this view. Transparency about the technology being installed and exactly what the management team will be able to see, and why, can be a big confidence booster. Many drivers who use smart dashcams soon appreciate that more power, rather than less, is being placed in their hands. One of the ways this is being achieved is through in-cab alerts. Dashcams equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) can detect risky driving behaviour and issue a warning so that a driver can self-correct in the moment. A momentary lapse in concentration or glancing down at a mobile phone for a few seconds can be prevented from escalating and drivers are kept safe. Additionally, the accuracy that this AI and machine vision (MV) technology provides means that managers needn’t spend all their time reviewing hours of video footage to understand why an incident happened – and can instead spend more time on coaching or additional support for drivers.
‘‘I already have a telematics solution, why would I need a dashcam?’’
Not all telematics solutions are equal. Traditional systems send notifications when unusual G-force readings are captured within a black box tracking device as a result of sudden braking or impact. This is very helpful but it only tells you what you already know – that an incident has occurred. Far better is the ability to detect that an accident is at risk of occurring and avoid it altogether. Smart dashcams that have both in-cab and road-facing lenses, combined with machine vision (MV) and artificial intelligence (AI), give you the best picture of what risk is happening on the road or what happened leading up to an incident on the road.
The reality is that collisions are more expensive. In Europe alone, the yearly cost of road crashes is €210 billion. For commercial fleets, smart dashcam technology not only improves safety by reducing the chance of an accident happening, but improves operational efficiency and sustainability. It also provides evidence of safe driving practice for insurers, who can get a much more accurate risk profile of the fleets they cover. Building a strong safety record can result in fewer insurance claims, vehicle repairs and lower premiums for fleets. Above all, there’s no price that can be put on ensuring that drivers arrive home safely.
‘‘Installing an intelligent dashcam will mean replacing all my kit’’
In the past, integrating new technology with an existing telematics solution wasn’t really an option. Today, depending on what’s best for you and your fleet, there are many options out there. You might simply add a standalone video telematics dashcam to your windscreen, or fully integrate a video module into your existing telematics system. When looking at a new video solution, I advise asking three key questions. Can it easily connect to third-party system? Will it provide a seamless view of the information gathered from all my telematics systems? During the installation process, what level of disruption should I expect?
The introduction of video should be considered carefully. With the right solution – one that offers flexibility, that allows you to adhere to privacy measures and that puts drivers in control – and the right advice, you can empower those behind the wheel and create safer roads.