One of your company vehicles is involved in an accident resulting in multiple deaths of a well-respected family from your community and causing significant reputational damage to your company. Don’t you want to have hard evidence showing that your driver is not at fault?
In most cases involving accidents with a commercial motor vehicle, law enforcement will default to “guilty until proven innocent” against the driver. Often enough, the facts of an accident are difficult to establish. On-board video cameras are a tool that can help prove the innocence of a driver and protect your company from significant liability.
During the recent Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association (INEDA)-sponsored Trucking Regulations Workshop, a training officer from the Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Enforcement voiced the idea of installing on-board video as a measure of improving safety, curbing distracted driving, and utilizing technology to establish facts in the event of an accident. Based on several conversations I’ve had with our members, I’ve learned that not all dealers are ready to embrace on-board video.
One attitude that I’ve encountered from this group of people is “ignorance is bliss”—they don’t want to know what their drivers are up to, as long as the driver doesn’t get into an accident. But is that really how you want to approach your business operations? Let me put this another way. I don’t want to know how much my bookkeeper is embezzling, just as long as I don’t go broke.
Another concern from dealers is that video can be a double-edged sword. Yes, it’s true that video can be used both to exonerate or convict a driver of negligence. But it can also help your attorney determine if your case is worth fighting or settling as quickly and painlessly as possible. And do you really want to subject your employees to a cross-examination in a courtroom if you don’t have to?
Not everyone will fully embrace it when you add on-board video to your company vehicles, and that’s okay. Here a few things you can do to ease the transition as you implement a new companywide policy.
Lead by Example
If you are going to put on-board video in your company vehicles, then be the first to install the technology in your own vehicle. Your employees might still object, but they won’t do it as loudly if they know that you are willing to hold yourself accountable, too.
Use for Coaching
Let your drivers know that the first and primary use of the on-board video is to improve outcomes—not to punish them for screwing up. The goal is to make employees better and safer. Make it a part of your monthly routine to review video and incident data to help them understand what they can do to improve.
An on-board video system can capture more than just video. There is data on speed, acceleration, braking, turning, collision alerts, and electronic logging. The system can also be used to help with guidance and verification of a location in the case of an emergency.
Incentivize Your Team
One way to get voluntary adoption from your employees is to create incentives that reward your drivers when they use company vehicles with on-board video. These incentives can include bonus pay, extra time off, gift certificates, and extended use of the company vehicle.
Consider the Cost
The great thing about technology is that it might not be as pricey as you’d think. A few years ago, a quality on-board video system would have likely set you back $1,000 (or more!) per vehicle. Today, you can outfit a vehicle for as little as $500, including 4K video, driver-assistance, collision warning, night vision, and GPS. And be sure to ask your insurance provider for a discount on your premium!
Plan for Government Mandates
While not currently required by law or regulation, it is highly probable that the federal government will mandate the use of on-board video in the next 5-10 years. Getting ahead of the regulation will provide you a longer timeline to implement the new technology and policy.
The last thing that you may want to consider is asking your attorney and insurance provider what they think. In my research for this article, every attorney and insurance advisor that I spoke was in favor of installing on-board video. Based on my experience of working with professionals who understand the law and liability, l would consider it good advice.