Driver Facing Cameras: Are They Really Necessary?
Change is inevitable, especially when it comes to truck-driving technology. A few trucking companies recently introduced driver-facing cameras in the cab section. The number is slowly growing, although the technology has been met with mixed reactions. Those supporting driver-facing cameras argue that it reduces liability and saves lives. On the other side of the spectrum, critics point out the invasion of privacy to extreme levels. There have been reports of truck drivers, especially old timers seeking alternative carriers after their previous companies introduced driver-facing cameras. Some truckers were not welcome to the idea but changed their minds after learning the advantages. Regardless, the decision to work for a company with an in-built cab camera is up to you, but you should at least know what it is all about.
How the system works
Most trucking companies have driver risks management systems within their truck. The system usually involves driver-facing and forward-facing cameras that monitor how the trucks operate. Although, there are trucking companies that have only installed traffic-facing cameras without driver-facing backup. While the truck is on duty, the dual cameras capture video and audio in real time, plus the location. The carriers can access the data through a web portal backed by an onboard system. The data is immediately sent to the carrier if the driver is caught up in a risky situation. The most significant advantage of driver-facing cameras is detecting signs of fatigue or distracted driving, such as heavy eyelids or inappropriate texting. Once the signs have been distinguished, the trucker is sent an alert message. Don’t think driving at night will get you off the hook since the cameras have infrared ability to record in the dark.
What are the benefits?
Apart from alerting drivers whenever they are distracted, or too tired, driver-facing cameras have been proven to reduce liability significantly. In an accident where the facts are unclear, a driver-facing camera could be used as evidence to exonerate the truck driver and his/her company. Of course, the expensive legal settlement that would have been paid out in unclear circumstances is reduced or completely avoided. Additionally, if the company notices specific areas a CDL driver might need to improve, re-training is recommended. Like a home-based system, driver-facing cameras come in handy in case of an unexpected security breach to the cab. The data backed up in the onboard system could be a part of the solution for numerous truckers who have complained that their DAC reports have been falsified.
What are the complaints?
Not every trucker is comfortable with a camera pointed at their working station. Some trucking companies have stopped using driver-facing cameras after losing the majority of experienced drivers. Well, can you blame them? Truckers with 10 to 20 years of experience with no major accidents do not take it lightly when introduced to a driver-facing camera. Work relationships are built on trust, and not many truckers appreciate being micro-managed. Those who are against it argue that traffic-facing cameras are enough for monitoring purposes, but an inside camera is going too far. Furthermore, they drove all those years before the introduction of cameras, yet they were never involved in a serious accident.
How many fleet owners, supervisors, and trucking company executives would be comfortable with a camera monitoring everything they do in their office? Not so many if you do the count, but why do it for truck drivers? Because life-threatening accidents do not happen in the office but on the road. Drivers who operate trucks with driver-facing cameras are unlikely to be involved in distracted driving behavior such as texting or eating at the wheel. That is because people tend to behave differently while the camera is on—even the common bad habits like picking up a dropped item on the floorboard while driving is scrutinized. Perhaps the most common misconception about driving-facing cameras is that they are always on watch whether the driver is on or off duty.
On the contrary, the cameras only monitor the driver when he/she is on duty. Whenever you are on break and not driving, the inside camera has no business monitoring your movements. Most trucking companies have made that clear.
Apart from the old-timer truckers who are shy on camera, the new generation of truck drivers seems to embrace the idea. If you are doing everything by the book, why worry when a driver-facing camera is in your truck? Plus, if there is a false report against you, there is a camera to prove your innocence. It is you who will weigh the options and decide whether or not to work for a company with driver-facing cameras.