Posted February 7, 2020

How New Video Technology May Help Your Safety

By Grace Tino

Trucking is changing, and drivers are often caught in the middle. As technology evolves, the transportation industry does too, and fleets are constantly doing their best to keep up with the advancements it may bring to their operations. As a driver, you've probably already been seeing plenty of these changes as they affect your typical protocol. One of the most controversial technologies being developed and implemented in a driver's daily career is video technology systems. Many drivers have pushed back on the initial implementation of video technologies within their companies, including cab-facing and road-facing cameras and video data analytics. However, improved in-cab video technology may not be something to fear- in fact, it may help drivers in their safety and overall careers. What are some of the benefits a driver can expect from this sort of technology becoming part of his or her daily job?

As a driver, you want to make sure you're driving the safest you can. It's priority number one! That is where video technology can step in and better coach you, whether you're a rookie or a seasoned expert. Improving your driving and learning from your mistakes is key to remaining on with your current company, and it doesn't necessarily mean you'll be micromanaged. In a piece for Fleet Owner Ronnie Holland, director of safety at TCW, explained that video technology isn't in place to reprimand drivers, but to allow them to see how they can respond better and safer in the future. TCW, Holland told Fleet Owner, currently implements the Bendix Wingman Fusion system and a very hands-off approach towards helping drivers improve. Flagged events are simply sent to drivers for their evaluation, where they can reflect on their choices and develop better response plans in the future.

Better driving of course means you'll be retained, and even better, receive better benefits, pay, and incentives. In the same article from Fleet Owner, Nussbaum Transportation's chief administrative officer Jeremy Stickley noted that video analytics on their drivers has resulted in higher pay, because they can ensure that the fleet's desired driver quality is being met. Think about it from a transportation company's perspective, better and safer driving means more money saved every year, and this is money that can be returned to drivers for their hard work. Stickling told Fleet Owner, "We now know if somebody is showing very conservative safe habits, we figure they are about three-and-a-half times less likely to get into a significant crash. We've seen that consistently in our data the last couple of years, and that enables us to pay them more." Video technology can be a key to not only improving your driving skills, but your earnings as well.

Not only are the videos career development opportunities for both new and seasoned drivers, they are in a way forms of insurance for their jobs. This can really be two-fold. In the case of an accident, where the driver was not at fault, video evidence is key in ensuring that driver does not receive any backlash for the incident, let alone lose his or her job. The bigger benefit comes with infamous lawsuits that hurt the company and a driver's career. Jeff Bronson, senior director of transportation at Atlas, recounts in a piece from Fleet Owner how in-cab video saved the career of a seasoned owner operator following a severe crash. The driver responded in every correct way possible and was completely not at fault. Without that video, the driver would have most likely been blamed and fired, and the company would have had a large lawsuit on its hands.

The most notable transportation technology company behind this movement is SmartDrive Systems. Transportation companies both big and small have been turning to their technology and video options in efforts to protect the safety of their drivers. According to SmartDrive, a small fuel tank fleet named Waccamaw Transport, decided to implement their video safety technology named the SmartDrive program in 2019. As a result of the new road- and cab-facing video, the fleet saw an overall reduction of 10% in their insurance rates and overall improved safety rates, especially in metro areas they drive in. The fleet was able to have better coaching sessions with their drivers, as well as exonerate them when they clearly were not at fault in any accidents. SmartDrive technology, claimed Waccamaw safety direct Michael Mason, was key in bettering the skills of their drivers, improving their safety, and protecting them when needed.

Video technology isn't just for monitoring driver actions, but it can improve driver experience. Recent developments have been occurring with driver video that surpasses the effectiveness of rearview windows. MirrorEye CMS, the only FMCSA exempted driver vision system, provides cabs with several external monitors connected to several in-cab sensors that overall give a more comprehensive view of the road environment than traditional mirrors. While the technology still must be used alongside traditional mirrors, MirrorEye is growing in popularity among fleets in the technology they provide their drivers to better their driving environment and experience.

As video technology becomes more available and adoptable by transportation carriers, drivers need to be prepared for the changes they'll be facing. Video technology possesses the potential to improve driver training, safety, and experience. Such technological changes may no longer be something to fear, but something to accept, as the career of a driver becomes a safer one year by year.