View Source: Corrie White
In-cab, exterior and freight cams protect drivers from liability claims and help carriers avoid rising insurance costs and pay better wages
As video technology in and around the truck advances, it also results in pushback from drivers who feel uneasy with the perception of amplified monitoring. But increased use of camera technology irrefutably removes the guesswork in liability claims, whether a driver has an accident or must contend with cargo damage.
In an interview with FreightWaves, owner-operator Henry Albert of Laredo, Texas, said, “I’d like to say that drivers are becoming more open-minded. Driver-facing cameras have saved careers. It proves you weren’t at fault. We know most of the time it’s not the drivers’ fault.”
According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, more than half of the 800,000 traffic accidents that occur annually due to blind spots specifically involve truck blind spots. FreightWaves director of freight market intelligence Zach Strickland said that outside the industry, there’s not much sympathy for truck drivers in legal disputes. Recently, the industry has seen a 300% spike in nuclear verdicts — or verdicts that surpass $1 million.
The rise of nuclear verdicts make insurance the second-highest fixed expense for carriers — after equipment payments — even for drivers with a safe driving history. Ultimately, this makes it hard for new and smaller carriers to survive, ultimately pushing more capacity out of the market and leaving drivers without a job. Research shows that driver turnover persists because drivers expect higher wages and better treatment — but how will carriers afford to pay their drivers better with these rising insurance costs?
A 2020 study from the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence (NSTSCE) revealed a strong relationship between increased driver turnover and safety. In other words, carriers that invest in driver retention will suffer fewer crashes, which should make the opposite also true — carriers that invest in safety measures on their assets should see a longer commitment from drivers.
Investments in camera technology will help retain drivers
Whether the camera sits on the dash, attaches to the side of the truck or keeps an eye on the in-transit cargo, video technology ensures end-to-end visibility for both the drivers and cargo inside the trailer should a road incident occur.
Dashcams, which face the road and/or the driver, have the power to exonerate cautious and law-abiding drivers. “We live in a litigious-enough society that we need all the technology in our corner to prove our innocence,” said Albert. “The way the nuclear verdicts are going, if we want to protect and save our industry, we need every piece of ammunition in our defense.”
Truck drivers are constantly monitoring their blind spots or “no zones.” Exterior cameras reveal the behavior of other drivers around the truck when they are passing or turning. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study showing that side view assist cameras on trucks could mitigate nearly 39,000 crashes every year.
Telematics and video solutions provider PowerFleet not only offers in-cab and exterior camera technology, providing 360-degree visibility, it also provides visibility for the freight pallets inside the trailer. Drivers know that sometimes shippers and brokers take issue with how freight is loaded. Should a road event occur and the cargo shift in the trailer, having a freight camera provide visual proof will protect drivers and carriers from further liability claims.
With this kind of visual protection of people and cargo, carriers are bound to save on insurance costs, protect their bottom line and offer better treatment to drivers.