Are Dashcams the obvious choice?

This blog has been kindly submitted by our guest blogger, Sally Dickerson, Director and Head of Service at FleetSense (formerly known as Independent Tracking)

There is no clearer indication; drivers from both the public road users to the logistics and transport operators are quickly moving towards the use of on-board cameras in vehicles. And for very good reasons.

Dashcams have been with us for some time now. Some individual motorists make the choice to install them for reasons of protection and security. Whereas the use of Dashcams in the commercial sector has often been treated with some scepticism. Are they just one more step towards a big brother society, or do they serve a legitimate purpose?

Travelling on the public highway is always a risk. Hazards, natural or unexpected, accidental or intentional are everywhere. With the use of our road system comes great responsibility, especially for the commercial traveller or operator. So the need to judge and mitigate those risks is something we all need to do consistently. It’s not just a matter of prudent business; it’s also a case of corporate social responsibility.

When an incident occurs there are always a number of variations in eye witness accounts. In fact, previous research points out the fact that eyewitness testimony in road traffic collisions is often grossly unreliable. This can often lead to long, complex and potentially unjust outcomes. And the financial penalty on those involved can be crippling.

For a professional driver to be suspended, based on an allegation of poor or dangerous driving, is a seriously and damaging thing. And as an employer, such a situation places huge additional strain and costs. Having the ability to present a credible and verifiable account of an incident can stop an unfair claim dead in its tracks. This is where Dashcams can be invaluable.

Having the ability to continuously capture road conditions, driver awareness, overall vehicle  performance and other external factors enables us to create a complete picture. Being able to review this historical data is vital to understanding how an incident has occurred, who has responsibility and how to resolve a potential dispute with (almost) absolute certainty.

Of course, it’s not just accidents and collisions that Dashcams are valuable for. Serious and committed drivers and operators should always be looking for ways to monitor driver skill and ability. As physical act that many of us undertake every day, almost as if on autopilot, it’s easy to become complacent and suffer a temporary loss of competency. We all do this from time to time.

So this is why many organisations and operators are embracing a simple way to ensure driver standards are maintained and become a mindful part of each working day. Case studies are clear; drivers operating vehicles fitted with cameras are consistently more likely to maintain higher levels of good driving standards.

This can reduce running costs through fuel savings, vehicle wear and tear and general driver performance improve too. These savings are there to be enjoyed as a direct result of Dashcams.

For the late-adopters, there is sometimes still a case of wanting to avoid resistance. Certainly, some professional drivers will never want their driving performance captured and recorded. However, as more and more businesses adopt this approach we are starting to experience a cultural shift.

Just in the same way that new laws around seatbelts meant a significant shift in mentality, accepting the value and benefits of Dashcams is starting to become a normal experience of commercial driving.

More than just an afterthought

Investing in safety and security measures is often low on the priority list. Clearly, legislation and rules governing working practices are a big incentive to adopt the right measures. In such cases, compliance is not an option but essential.

One added advantage of Dashcam technology is the immediate benefits that can be gained. Many leading insurance companies are pushing hard to incentivise drivers and vehicle operators to adopt them. With insurance fraud on the rise and a plague of ‘cash for crash’ scams, there is a significant benefit for insurers to show support to customers who adopt such countermeasures.

Benefiting from an immediate reduction in insurance premiums is a perfect way to assist and offset some of the installation costs. And this becomes an ongoing saving each renewal period.

When combined with other vehicle telematics we have the ability to complete the picture. Data feeds and recordings are able to capture times, locations, vehicle running conditions, impact force, driving dynamics, etc. When matched with video evidence this enables us to cross-reference accurately and fully.

For the reasons above, and many others, some are reporting that Dashcams are the must-have accessory for 2014. With a range of models and features, the ability to integrate with telematics, and a competitive market, led by innovation, Dashcams are here to stay.

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