Safety & Compliance

Cameras in the Cab

May 2015, TruckingInfo.com - Feature

by Jim Beach, Technology Contributing Editor - Also by this author

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Fleets can see real improvement with in-cab video systems. Photo courtesy of Lytx 
Fleets can see real improvement with in-cab video systems. Photo courtesy of Lytx

Truck fleets are increasingly deploying in-cab video systems as part of their technological arsenal to increase safety and security. While these systems do generate some privacy concerns, the bottom line is that fleets are seeing improvements in safety, driver training and other areas.

In many cases, the in-cab video systems join other active safety technologies such as stability control systems, lane departure warning, and reactive cruise-control.

At Melton Truck Lines, Tulsa, Okla., in addition to the in-cab video system from Lytx, the company also equips its trucks with Bendix’s AutoVue lane departure warning system, says Rick Vincent, director of safety and driver training. An in-cab telematics platform tracks lane departure, forward collision warning and hard braking events. Driver trainers and managers use this information to coach the drivers that need it most.

At M&W Logistics, Nashville, Tenn., in addition to the SmartDrive in-cab video system, the fleet also specs Meritor Wabco products including stability control, lane departure and forward collision mitigation systems, according to Mike McFarlin, M&W CEO. “The forward collision mitigation system and the stability control systems are integrated with the SmartDrive camera system,” he explains. “Any time one of these systems activates, the video system captures a 20-second video clip and transmits it to the SmartDrive team for review.”

Both fleets have seen benefits from deploying these systems. McFarlin says M&W experienced a 34% decrease in total accidents within the first year. In addition, Level 3 and Level 4 accidents — the most severe — dropped by more than half. “We have also benefited from the capture of video in certain accidents that exonerated our drivers.”

Vincent noted that in the event of a collision where the camera was triggered, Melton gets “a clear video of the event and we can quickly begin managing the claim and or pursue recovery.” On-site law enforcement reports, witness statements and claimant statements can differ from the driver’s account, he says, and the video “in most cases provides the clear evidence needed.”

How they work

While there are various in-cab video systems available, most work in a similar fashion. The devices typically have a forward lens focused on what is happening outside of the truck and an inside lens that looks at the driver and passenger. The devices also contain an accelerometer that can measure sudden movements such as rapid deceleration or other forces. They record continuously, but only save video if there is an event such as hard braking, sudden deceleration, or an alert from other safety systems. In that case, the devices typically save the video for a certain amount of time before the event (usually 8 to 10 seconds) and for a few seconds after the event.

These recorded events are then uploaded via the cloud to the vendor’s site, where specialists review them. Only videos that show risky driving behavior are sent back to the fleet. For instance, if the video recorder is activated because the truck hit a pothole that shakes the cab, that video would not be sent to the fleet.

In addition to the device’s accelerometer, video can be saved when there are alerts from other safety systems such as collision avoidance or lane departure warning.

In addition, some devices record continuously. Safety Track, Bellevue, Mich., recently introduced a new line of live streaming cameras that allow fleet managers to stream live video while their vehicles are on the road. This system records both the driver and what he sees in front of the truck for up to 40 hours.

Convoy Technologies, Newport Beach, Calif., introduced a system in April that allows users to configure the camera for continuous, event-driven or scheduled recording. It integrates the vehicle’s GPS information with the video. Using a cloud-based system, the videos can be accessed for playback on smartphones, tablets or PCs.

The SmartDrive Systems in-cab video recorder integrates with active safety systems such as those from Wabco to trigger video recording when risky driving behavior is observed. 
The SmartDrive Systems in-cab video recorder integrates with active safety systems such as those from Wabco to trigger video recording when risky driving behavior is observed.

In-cab video as training tool

One of the more interesting benefits of video systems is their use in coaching and training drivers. Greg Lund, director of corporate communications, Lytx, San Diego, says fleets deploying such systems not only see a reduction in collision-related costs, but they also see “driver behavior improve significantly, and fairly quickly.”

When risky behaviors are noted, the video clips are sent to the fleet, where driver managers can review the clip with the driver and offering coaching on the problem behavior that led to the incident. Conversely, if the video was triggered because the driver had to take evasive action to avoid a collision, he can be recognized for doing a good job.

“Over time, we can look at the drivers — the ones exhibiting behaviors that can be corrected,” Lund explains. “The fleet decides which drivers need to be coached the most and which drivers should be rewarded and which ones are showing improvement.”

Melton’s Vincent notes that managing driver behavior can be a “daunting task, especially in the long-haul environment given the lack of face time with the drivers.” They’ve found that “driving behavior can be positively affected just by the camera being there.”

He explains that fleet safety is essentially managing behavioral hazards and having an in-depth understanding of the factors that influence individual driver decision-making. “Video events allow coaching opportunities not available in the past.”

At M&W, the initial aim when deploying the video system was to “capture video evidence to guide us in the handling of auto liability claims,” McFarlin says. While the system has shown benefits in that area, it “has really become more of a driver training and incentive tool.

“Adding the system to our trucks has allowed us to pinpoint areas where we need to train individual drivers. By working with each driver on habits he or she needs to improve upon, we are becoming a much safer fleet.” M&W has also tied its safety bonus program to a scorecard generated by the system.

M&W’s drivers were leery about cameras in the cab initially. “It was a pretty hard sell to our drivers when we first announced we were adding this system to all of our trucks,” McFarlin says. The drivers were mainly concerned that fleet managers would be “watching their every move like we were watching them on TV.” But drivers came around once they realized the only time video would be saved would be when they did something to trigger the camera. M&W has added a keypad that allows drivers to log out of the system when the truck is parked and the brake engaged.

Vincent says there were some driver concerns at Melton, but found that communicating up front how the system worked, how it triggers and where the video clip ends up was important to driver acceptance. Also helping drivers feel more comfortable were recorded events that helped exonerate the driver and company.

Plus, professional drivers have become more used to the various technologies fleets deploy. “More and more carriers are adopting some form of electronic recording of crashes and events,” Vincent says. “Over time that also will help with overall driver acceptance.”

Lund agrees that how the system is rolled out is important in generating driver acceptance. It’s understandable that drivers might have concerns, he says, but if the fleet does a good job explaining the system is there to help them and in some cases, even exonerate them, it is much easier.

The in-cab video system from Convoy Videomatics can be configured to record continuously, when triggered by an event or at scheduled times.
The in-cab video system from Convoy Videomatics can be configured to record continuously, when triggered by an event or at scheduled times.

Finding more uses

Beyond recording events, in-cab video systems can also be used as an analytics tool and for other purposes.

“We are trying to solve more and more problems with video, beyond exonerating or coaching drivers,” says Steve Mitgang, CEO of SmartDrive, San Diego. For instance, the system can integrate with side view cameras. One fleet asked if it could be used to help catch fuel theft. “We’re finding ways to use video beyond front-end crashes,” he adds. Some customers have installed rear-facing cameras on the truck that monitor the flatbed trailer to make sure the load is strapped and tarped correctly.

And the data can be used in analytics as well, says Lytx’s Lund. “Predictive analytics is a big part of what we do.” The systems allow them to track about 100 driver behaviors. “We can predict which drivers are most likely to be in a collision,” he explains. Fleets receive information showing which drivers need coaching, which ones are improving and which ones are doing great, with no recorded events.

In the end, it still comes down to the people driving the truck. Vincent says in-cab technology, especially systems that are intended to mitigate risk and affect driver awareness and behavior, must be kept in perspective and managed properly. “Where we certainly believe in them, we must remain keenly aware that nothing replaces a safe, professional driver behind the wheel.”

Comments

  1. 1. Bobby [ May 22, 2015 @ 03:27AM ]

    Let me put a camera pointed at your desk and in your bedroom ,see how you like it .

  2. 2. Dir [ May 22, 2015 @ 04:20AM ]

    I feel if a driver is against having a camera in their truck, they are not a good driver. If you are doing nothing wrong, why resist. Anything that can help me, I am for! This could cover my butt from a nefarious four wheeler or a brainless big truck driver.

  3. 3. carolyn [ May 22, 2015 @ 10:50AM ]

    got a ticket 3 years ago for following to close. IF I had had a camera I COULD HAVE FOUGHT ticket and won. Another truck cut me off, and I got ticket. I like cameras in truck!

  4. 4. Robert Grunow [ May 22, 2015 @ 04:18PM ]

    Hi I am very interested in this what can you all see with this in teh truck and what i see if i have one of these in my truck can i see in my office

  5. 5. Wajiha [ May 25, 2015 @ 06:49AM ]

    @Robert I think it depends on the type of in-cab video involved. Some are focused outward and only show the road and external images. Others are focused on the driver to alert fleet managers to impaired driving, and some have both. And what you see from your office also depends on the system you implement. Ie, some will only send video back to the office if there are triggers, such as such as harsh braking etc. Other can send a live feed - hope this helps!

  6. 6. Paul [ May 28, 2015 @ 11:28AM ]

    Just like everything else...starts out as a great tool, but 10 years from now they will want to know why you picked your nose for 15 seconds or scratched your crotch....if you don't trust me, don't hire me. George Orwell said it before...."big brother is watching". When will we all learn that our rights to privacy are being taken away rapidly....public cameras EVERYWHERE spying on us....drones will be the next thing spying on us, and now cameras in the truck spying on us....quit giving away your rights and tell them you are tired of being watched...I own trucks....no cameras!!!

  7. 7. Calvin Martin [ May 28, 2015 @ 11:57AM ]

    The latest safety system in long haul freight transportation

  8. 8. Alex [ May 28, 2015 @ 12:41PM ]

    @ Paul, I couldn't agree with you more!
    @Dir you can say that to a lot of things " if I'm not doing nothing wrong, why resist" all that privacy we all fight for is out the window! You give government a finger it'll bite your whole hand off! Don't think they can't hack into those cameras!

  9. 9. Bob [ June 08, 2015 @ 02:06PM ]

    For me its simple, I have 2 million safe miles. If they put a camera in the truck, I will quit that day! I can find a company that trusts me as a driver to work for them. I don't care what other drivers are willing to put up, I know I will not!

  10. 10. Jeffrey Kinney [ August 14, 2015 @ 11:35AM ]

    Unlike some of the previous post I do drive a truck for a living. I drive 60 to 70 hours a week, not counting time spent logging my every move as required by DOT. And I gladly take any alcohol or drug test they want me too. I don t mind a camera watching my driving maneuvers. I have driven 10 years 1000000 miles without a accident. However I do not wand a camera pointed at me. If I am tired, I talk to myself. My business. Bounce up and down. Stop and get coffee. Unbutton my pants, I will be sitting down for 11 hours. Do I really want people watching me with my pants unbuttoned and talking to myself. However at first thought you may not want me on the road. look at my driving record

  11. 11. oscar [ April 11, 2016 @ 08:59PM ]

    it'll go against the driver it;s that easy... I;,m more stressful now than before with it. Try it !! It's a video and voice recorder!!

  12. 12. Lee [ April 14, 2016 @ 05:54PM ]

    Outside facing cameras no problem but absolutely no to inside facing cameras. With 1.5 million safe miles either they trust me to drive the truck or they don't.

    I asked my boss who gave the bright idea to give a plaintiffs attorney discoverable video proof of a drivers negligence increasing the size of the judgements. I received no response.

  13. 13. Mike Pritchard [ April 22, 2016 @ 10:15PM ]

    I've been driving since 1989 with no major accidents. I have been at my current company for over 9 years. Loved my job, home every night awesome benefits and 2 weeks after having Drive-cam I'm looking to leave ASAP. Every rough bump sets it off and I think gee I hope I wasn't changing the radio station or something. I sure hope I don't get in trouble. It causes me great amounts of anxiety to the point I don't want to go to work anymore. I haven't been this miserable ever in my career and no one truly gives a shit. Take the Kool-aid, it's to help bring you home safer to your family. BTW, we have a coach-able event for you. You set the camera off when you went from an off ramp to an on ramp, and we noticed you rolled through that stop sign without coming to a complete stop. That's 3 points, Mike your a better driver than that, come on now. I told them to find a better driver. I've never felt more unappreciated in my life. If it wasn't for my benefits and my 3 kids I would have walked out that day and never looked back. Thank You Drive-Cam

  14. 14. Frances [ April 29, 2016 @ 07:26PM ]

    I just came back from vaction!
    From 1:30 pm-7:15 the camera was on me watching my every move! They fix the system were it shows off course. When the bus goes off course, the camera records your every move.
    When I pull out the garage, it shows again off course and when I am coming back to garge.
    The company knows it is illegal to run the system
    like that, they do it any way! It takes me through a lot of changes and it is unsafe for a driver to drive with that kind of pressurs!
    Do our Leadership, today, really care about us, of is about their family, house, car, money?
    What about our family!
    I seem so many driver's die over the years, from the stress at work, they retired then they die.
    Why?

  15. 15. Tim [ May 04, 2016 @ 09:00PM ]

    I'm not driving a truck with a camera on the driver.

  16. 16. gary [ May 06, 2016 @ 05:18PM ]

    First off, id like to say im a owner operator and just had one installed in my truck today. Of course im not happy about it as well as many can be unhappy about it. But im gonna also start looking into the rights of us as drivers. Id of been ok with the camera only pointing one way, facing out not both directions. Their are laws that say you can have cameras in a bathroom throughout the U.S.., but I do have a portable potty onboard, that there is a violation of my privacy! Im ok with one way camera facing ahead of me, but NOT AT ME! There has to be court ruling that needs to be researched in order to have rear face cameras eliminated! The help I need from fellow drivers is a significant amout of signatures for a petition to take to ooida to see if they will help fight for a drivers RIGHTS! If any driver has imput to help by all means post it!

  17. 17. J Rosa [ May 21, 2016 @ 06:43AM ]

    Show me where to sign the petition, no inside facing camara

  18. 18. m dooley [ May 25, 2016 @ 11:48AM ]

    We have them in our trucks and think its a distraction more then anything every little thing sets it off. Then there a point system for the offences never been in a accident in my life. Looking for other place of employment

  19. 19. matthew e rogers [ June 27, 2016 @ 06:46AM ]

    Gary O/O where is petition ill sign it

  20. 20. JESSE [ July 12, 2016 @ 09:15PM ]

    Cameras are a big distraction and facing you all day changes your behavior, your safety is compromised ,you are recorded continuously .In split of second you are not looking the road but the flashing lights in the camera.
    I had two accidents in one week because this mental distraction.

  21. 21. F Aguillon [ September 03, 2016 @ 06:53AM ]

    I will sign the petition. I have been driving for 15 years no tickets no accidents. I do not see how a camera facing me will be any good.

  22. 22. M. Moronez [ September 08, 2016 @ 08:02PM ]

    Just got one of these systems installed in my local delivery truck.
    I"m calling it Marge the In Law. "BEEP! Yer touching the white line! BEEP! Watch out for that car! Yer following to close! BEEP! That sign says 20 MPH! Yer speeding!"
    It never shuts up. And I've seen the 'transmit' LED light up several times. Welcome to Big Brother's Watching YOU.
    At the end of a long day, you really just want to drive a nail through the damned thing. And I've started talking to it about how much I hate the thing.
    'They' said it WOULD NOT and COULD NOT record you all day. And 5 minutes later extolled how it could recall ANY part of the previous day and download 20 second clips for review.
    "It will protect you and the Company"
    It will also drive you to distraction and ultimately rage when they send you a list of 'items for improvement' that reads like a ticker tape. Which can be used against you as a driver for 'repeated infractions' up to and including "looking at paperwork for 2 seconds' and 'holding a beverage/food for over 2 seconds' and 'only one hand on steering wheel'.
    Like when Mr. DOT stops you, if they look hard enough, they WILL find something wrong. No one is perfect. No one.
    I"m waiting to see how a Self Driving Truck brings a customers product upstairs and collects a COD.

  23. 23. Michael Benedetti [ September 23, 2016 @ 05:22AM ]

    I took time off but will be going back to trucking. Probably looking for a company with no cameras. But what happens when you're following a truck 20 minutes and finally reach it and getting ready to pass but you are driving close to the rear of the vehicle now in order to make your lane change? Won't the cameras get me following too closely?

  24. 24. Bill [ October 13, 2016 @ 07:55AM ]

    I'll quit

  25. 25. Mike Townsend [ December 21, 2016 @ 08:11PM ]

    I have one and the only thing I worry about is its watching me as I sleep or if my lady visits me at the truck...

  26. 26. Sean [ December 29, 2016 @ 10:56AM ]

    I find it disturbing how closed minded you all are when it comes to inward facing cameras. I am drive for a LTL on a dedicated route. I stopped at a rest stop and was held up at gunpoint. The inward facing camera got a crystal clear picture of the assailant and he was arrested shortly after. You all cry privacy and make a hard stand against the inward facing camera... but what are you going to do when FMCSA makes them mandatory?

  27. 27. Ronny [ January 05, 2017 @ 12:31PM ]

    Inward-facing cameras should only be reserved for drivers that have terrible driving records: near misses, and citations for various traffic infractions. Also, inward-facing cameras should only be an option for drivers with excellent driving records. No good driver wants to be micro-managed by pencil pushers and desk sitters that have never sat behind a wheel of a truck in their entire lives, all while scrutinizing you for the slightest of infractions that have absolutely nothing to do with road and driver safety. But if you're one of those drivers that don't mind being micromanaged from afar, then more power to you. These companies seem like they want to do everything besides drive the truck. And ten bucks says that the folks working in the office drive like complete inconsiderate fools when they go home for the day.

  28. 28. Ronnie [ February 01, 2017 @ 08:35AM ]

    If you are concerned with privacy you need not worry since the camera only records for 20 seconds when you are driving it senses risky behavior in your driving. When you are parked and sleeping or having a visitor in your cab, it is not on.....besides you do have a privacy curtain in the cab that you can draw if you do not trust it.
    I know how they work because I install them.

  29. 29. Mike townsend [ February 08, 2017 @ 09:49PM ]

    I have one in my truck,now im on the verge of being let go because i put my clip on my phone to clip it down from falling and my cam recorded me with it in my hand.....i just lost a phone last week from falling and hitting the bottom frame on my seat...bout to possibly be fired for clipping my phone down...

  30. 30. chuck fehskens [ February 22, 2017 @ 05:34PM ]

    i worked for vistar for 26 years,only 2 or 3 chargeable accidents,never any injuries..always on time,did everything i was supposed to do..customers loved me .19 trucks in the fleet ,only 6 had cameras, my tractor was always setting the camera off..it was more of a distraction seeing the blinking lights..i was spoken to a few times because i blocked the camera being on me,then i was fired for blocking the camera..never being told that i would lose my job if i did it again.3 days later there was a drivers meeting and then they were told if you do that it is automatic firing..not fair to me.....

  31. 31. James [ March 16, 2017 @ 05:41PM ]

    LTL companies especially seem to be using driver cam as a firing device or more so in my opinion a power tool over drivers. The company i work for is getting rediculous with this technology.all terminals have different regulations while driving ."does and donts." Like no snacking, eating ,beverages ,water ,talking on cb, etc.no talking on phone is stricktly enforced company wide ,even blue tooth.phone is automatic termination. We are not union but they are inviting it ,and i see large terminals go union in large cities.none of these folks have drove a truck in their lives who are using this technology as a power tool.Quit your micromanagement and getting downright rediculous and unreasonable or go union. You are asking for it.I know because the talk is going around.the union card will be getting passed around.
    Everything that helps a driver get through his driving shift our company could really give a shit.keep pissing on driver mentality? You will be a "UNION COMPANY" you ASSHOLES!!!

  32. 32. Lady Driver [ March 22, 2017 @ 05:35PM ]

    @Ronny... You are wrong. The smartdrive camera in our truck is on, recording and transmitting 24/7. And the funny thing about being told that it only records "incidents" is they don't tell you what an incident is. An "incident" can be a curve, a U-turn, a dip in the road, a pothole, a stop, a swerve, traveling over a set speed limit, a loud sound (laughter) or even "private time". So every time the camera senses and "incident" the company is getting at least 20 seconds of in-cab audio. Yes, each of the above "incidents". I know because I've seen the computer in the safety department.

  33. 33. jason [ March 25, 2017 @ 07:42PM ]

    I'm totally against the cameras, you need to be babysat at a job then there are immature people in the office playing GOD. Put a camera in every office and car on the road and watch them drive or do their job, lots of failures and people walking to their destinations. I have seen lots on the road, it's not the truck driver, you idiots, it's the morons in their cars, in a hurry and phones. I would leave my job if there was a camera in my truck

  34. 34. Martin Devore [ April 29, 2017 @ 04:17AM ]

    Yeah, I'm also on the verge of leaving a job that I really enjoy over the excessive use of these cameras. It's a travesty that these so called safety people don't go after the four wheelers and their cell phones. I see it every single damn day. 85% of the idiots in vehicles other than semis using or messing around with a damn cell phone, like it's a long lost lover. Geesh folks, go after the real problem. I'm not saying that we are all perfect, as there are definitely a few "professional" drivers that shouldn't be driving a bicycle, let alone an 80000 pound vehicle. However, the mass majority of the problem lies in four wheelers and cellphones, look at the data and quit looking at us for your scapegoat!!

  35. 35. Brad [ May 05, 2017 @ 06:50AM ]

    I agree with cameras in the truck focused on the road. not the driver !! Camera focused on the driver is becoming the biggest distraction. Peeping tom needs to get out !

  36. 36. Daryl lady [ May 17, 2017 @ 07:56PM ]

    I get it. Accident claims go down. However!... lytx was just put I'm my truck and I had at least 25 trips of the system each day. I am well trained and very experienced.. I have been told that most trips of this system never make it to my driver manager. But.... I was so aggravated each time it tripped I'm not focusing on my driving. I can nearly pass a slower truck without tripping it. It's ridiculous. Then someone who never drove a truck is going to coach me on my driving behavior. Lol. I drive through Chicago everyday and I can't get through my route without multible trips. Every driver at my terminal is having the same issue. Most of us will be finding another job and you can fill my job with a newbie out of truck school. This coaching is over the top on driver facing cameras. I'm all for cameras facing outward. Ryder you will get my notice I'm not a Jr high school kid. I've driven schoobus jail buses and semi for many years. This out ways any enjoyment I found in trucking. I can have another job by tonight. Time to say goodbye to all this stupitity.

  37. 37. Mcebisi [ May 25, 2017 @ 07:54AM ]

    Ay this thing of cameras inside the cab is boring, firstly you as a driver you do not have privacy, and some companies are busy dismissing divers due to this camera, I am saying this with the experience as I am a Shop Stewards of drivers.

  38. 38. Ric Rodriguez [ June 12, 2017 @ 03:35PM ]

    G'day I drive a road train in Western Australia the mob I'm working for just installed camera in the cab I'm against this attitude by the company, but what can you do cop it or leave mmmm . They tell you that's for our protection yeah right what a load off crap it's a total invasion off privacy now we have a university cadet telling me what I'm doing wrong on the hwy , I have 30 years experience on the road , now how do you think I feel, now my attitude has changed and not for the better, it doesn't mean that I'm driving any different just loosing love for the job that I enjoy..... rant over

  39. 39. Kathy [ September 07, 2017 @ 12:11AM ]

    This is crap my husband and I live in this truck 24/7 and to know if we are having a discussion you jerks are listening it maybe we just want to have kinky sex it is not your dam business. You are making life suck ass for couples this job take its toll on marriages and families as it is. The distractions come from when a dang cop shoots the truck with radar and you dam near get thrown through the window when it apples the brakes. Or the fucking peeping every time the thing triggered make you a wreck trying to figure out what the hell ya done wrong now. Then to have a conversation your afraid to talk to your spouse for fear if you say something about the company you drive for you'll get shit canned . The job was stressful enough without the added bullshit. Just gotta love the tech junkys that come up with this shit. Then say it's to protect the driver. Please it is letting more and more of your life being controlled by the government your employer ect.

 

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