As a vehicle fleet manager, you trust that your drivers will follow the rules of the road, making safety a top priority. But how do you know whether your drivers are actually practicing good safety habits? Road accidents and the resulting insurance claims can cost your company millions of dollars in litigation and higher insurance premiums. These incidents may even have a negative impact on how the public perceives your company and its fleet of drivers. But there is a way to address this complex problem: smart in-vehicle camera systems. Companies like SmartWitness are innovating new IoT solutions, and it’s making the road a far safer place for casual commuters and professional fleet drivers alike.
The Challenges of Vehicle Fleets
The majority of fleet accidents involve one or more drivers who are distracted on the road. Common road distractions, such as texting and eating, slow a driver’s reaction time. These distractions could cause a driver to inadvertently swerve into another lane. This type of behavior isn’t necessarily something that you can screen for when you hire your drivers. Your drivers may be perfectly capable of handling a semi-trailer and passing a fleet driving test, but it’s almost impossible to know whether they’re consistently practicing safe driving habits once they get on the road. For instance, a candidate may be a safe driver under normal circumstances, but lack of sleep could cause that good driver to lose focus or drift into another lane.
Another challenge with managing a fleet is dealing with accidents; namely, who is at fault for the collision. It is often unclear who was at fault—your driver, or the other party. Without tangible proof, you could be liable for insurance payments, even if your driver claims that he wasn’t at fault. For the company managing a fleet, the out-of-pocket cost per accident averages $21,000, and the more drivers you have in your fleet, the higher your risk of accidents will be. Most drivers have an estimated 1 in 366 chance of getting into a car accident for every 1,000 miles they drive. Fleet drivers are on the road far more than the average commuter, so their risk of getting into an accident is far higher.
Solving the Insurance Problem
When you have an in-vehicle camera system installed on every vehicle in your fleet, it’s usually quite easy to see who was at fault for an accident. You can then use this evidence to counter an insurance claim against your company. The more insurance claims that your company can dismiss using real video footage of the incident, the less you’ll have to pay in claims and insurance premiums.
SmartWitness, an in-vehicle camera system manufacturer, recently experienced this firsthand with one of their own clients. The number of disputed insurance claims against their fleet driver clients decreased by 38 percent after they installed cameras on each and every truck in the fleet. These cameras were able to capture—in great detail in many cases—exactly what caused each accident. In many situations, the video footage revealed that the fleet driver was not at fault for the collision. This has already saved their fleet management partners thousands of dollars in insurance claims.
Smart In-vehicle Camera Systems Improve Safety
Beyond revealing who was at fault in the event of an accident, you can also track your drivers’ habits periodically to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. Drivers who know that they are being monitored by in-vehicle camera systems are less likely to practice unsafe habits, like talking on the phone while driving or trying to eat a messy meal on the road. They’re also more likely to pay attention to how closely they’re following the vehicle in front of them, and whether they’re staying well within their lane.
For an in-vehicle camera system to effectively prevent accidents, you need a fast connection and two-way communication features embedded into the technology. By partnering with Sierra Wireless to create their camera devices from scratch, SmartWitness was able to successfully transition from 3G to 4G connectivity, which improved camera speeds and allowed for real-time communication between the driver and the monitoring system. SmartWitness’ new KP2 system has Sierra Wireless’ industrial-grade HL Series modules embedded into the cameras, which connect to the cellular network to provide real-time image feedback. The KP2 system attaches to the windshield on every vehicle and there’s also a tamper-proof safety feature that sends an alert if the camera is damaged or removed.
The Technology You Need to Make the Road Safer
While the quality of the camera itself is key to an effective fleet management system, there’s one feature that promotes even greater safety on the road: the two-way communication feature that allows the driver and dispatch to connect. SmartWitness’ system can handle up to 10 cameras in a single vehicle, allowing them to capture every angle. This information is fed through the company’s RESTful API, which seamlessly integrates into a fleet monitoring application. This means that every camera sensor reading is immediately processed through the API, and dispatch will automatically receive an alert when the cameras detect a potential problem.
For instance, the camera might see that the left side of the vehicle is getting closer to the car next to it, indicating that the driver might be drifting. Dispatch will immediately receive a notification when the distance between the vehicles reaches a certain “risk threshold.” The dispatcher can then call the driver on the two-way radio to warn him that there’s a vehicle drifting into his lane on the left-hand side. This technology can also alert dispatch when an accident occurs, allowing emergency personnel to reach that exact location faster, thereby reducing the risk of further injury for the drivers and their passengers.
SmartWitness’ in-vehicle camera system provides reliable real-time communication features that make roads safer and reduce fleet costs. Start with Sierra today to find out how you can integrate your sensors with the most advanced wireless technology on the market. Let Sierra be your partner in building a safer and more modern fleet.
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