Trucking companies are now embracing innovative safety technology that was previously rejected as too expensive or unnecessary. The catalyst of change involves nuclear verdicts and surging insurance premiums.
Telematics and in-cab cameras may become a prerequisite for insurance providers, even though they are not federally mandated. Creating a culture of safety involves transitioning from a reactive to a preventive mindset, so many fleets are using cutting-edge dash cameras to improve safety metrics.
Consider these five tips before implementing dash cameras to avoid common mistakes.
1. Obtain Driver Buy-In
Safety professionals understand the importance of getting driver input before implementing a new safety system. As fleets adopt innovative technology, they should involve drivers in the decision-making process as soon as possible. Drivers are not bashful, and they are quick to point out problems that arise during the pilot phase of implementation. View this input as a gift that can help you establish a stronger system long term.
The pilot phase should include a variety of drivers in multiple locations to achieve an honest assessment of a system. Fleets often only involve their best drivers to evaluate a new system, but this can lead to problems, because they are less likely to complain and more likely to find their own solutions.
A true test will involve your day-to-day drivers who will push back and actively hunt for problems. Pilot phases should be designed to identify problem areas that can be corrected before implementation, so involve a diverse group of drivers to emphasize these issues.
2. Create Vendor Workshops
Technology vendors that operate in the transportation sector have real-world experience with other carriers that can benefit your organization. Consider organizing a workshop with the vendor, select drivers, information technology personnel, and your safety team to discuss the system during the pilot phase. A workshop creates an opportunity to provide suggested enhancements and modifications, and it conveys to your drivers that they are an important part of the equation.
Keys for an effective workshop:
- Be transparent and honest with expectations.
- Allow drivers to view the management features of the system.
- Share desired safety results and anticipated monetary savings.
- Explain the coaching process workflow.
- Give updates on recent modifications and enhancements.
- Establish guidelines for coaching versus discipline.
Drivers communicate with their peers, and the initial anxiety about a new safety system will quickly dissipate as other drivers learn that they have a seat at the table. Successful implementation of a new safety system requires driver approval, and an interactive workshop will highlight required modifications and improve employee engagement. All employees are responsible for safety, so do not forget to involve your drivers when evaluating a new safety system.
Workshops are typically conducted at a carrier’s service center, often scheduled as half-day events. An effective itinerary will outline the focus of the meeting, and all participants should be granted the opportunity to offer their assessment of the system. Great ideas are often generated in these environments.
3. Develop Change Management
It should come as no surprise that employee engagement deteriorates when cameras are primarily used as a disciplinary tool. Building trust through transparency minimizes resistance to new technology. Conduct town hall meetings and Q&A sessions with employees to explain why the change is coming and the benefits of the system.
Dispel misconceptions about dash cameras by highlighting:
- Driver exoneration in accidents.
- Insurance savings.
- Improved safety through effective coaching.
Successful coaching programs identify areas that need improving, but they also recognize and reward excellence. The most effective way to achieve employee acceptance is to share videos of your employees demonstrating safe behavior in dangerous situations.
4. Manage the Data
The benefits of onboard cameras have been emphasized for years, but companies struggle to manage the large volumes of data they can generate. Many video technology partners have expert review teams that analyze video according to a standardized set of observations, and they prioritize coaching events based on risk. To effectively change behavior and reduce accidents, safety professionals rely on coaching platforms that rank drivers based on driving habits.
Insurance providers need more than just seeing cameras in tractors. Expert review teams remove false-positive videos and provide actionable coaching events to safety teams. Ensure that your drivers are being continuously coached — because not using available safety data is often more dangerous than not having it at all.
5. Celebrate Positive Videos
Truck drivers rarely complain about inclement weather and congested traffic because they understand that it is all part of the job. Likewise, drivers frequently encounter dangerous situations without ever mentioning it to their peers. But dash cameras allow safety teams to look behind the scenes when an event is triggered. When you observe video of a driver avoiding an accident, publicly acknowledge and thank them for their safety awareness.
When you observe a near-miss video of a driver avoiding a potentially life-threatening accident, consider the following tips to celebrate the driver:
- Share the video with the entire team in a breakroom.
- Ask the safety director to call and acknowledge the driver.
- Mention the driver’s heroic actions in a company newsletter.
- Provide the driver company-branded merchandise.
- Present a gift card for lunch.
- Publicly thank the driver in the presence of peers.
6. Share Your Vision
Speak with your safety or risk management department and share your vision for implementing a dash camera program. Insurance providers evaluate risk for an enterprise, and proactive campaigns that target accident and injury reduction are often rewarded with reduced premiums. Create measurable goals, develop a presentation, and grow your influence at the next meeting with your insurance provider.
Key to remember: Successfully implementing a new camera platform involves transparency, collaboration, and driver engagement to achieve desired results from the system and your drivers.
About the Author: Josh Lovan is an industry business advisor for J.J. Keller & Associates, a company that provides regulatory, safety and compliance solutions to the trucking industry. This article was authored and edited according to HDT editorial standards and style to provide useful information to our readers.
This article first appeared in the June 2022 issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.