Smart cameras will play a leading role in shaping a more efficient and safer road environment as safety becomes an increasingly important determinant of successful fleet management.
By Belinda Rueffer
With more and more drivers on the roads, there are inherently more risks associated with driving. While basic traffic rules are not hard to understand, they are too often ignored when drivers are distracted, in a rush, or otherwise busy. Though seemingly simple—think adhering to the speed limit, stopping on red, maintaining a safe following distance, and yielding to pedestrians—even the most basic of traffic laws are broken, resulting in at least 50 million people facing injury or disability each year. To add to that, more than half of crashes that cause injuries or fatalities occur at or near an intersection. No business with a fleet is immune to accidents happening on a driver’s watch, but some measures can be taken to better prevent them from happening.
The year 2017 witnessed 107 deadly waste truck collisions and more than 1,400 injuries, according to Trucking Watch. To make matters worse, OSHA reported 25 deadly garbage truck collisions in the same year, with 25 percent of those killed in these collisions the drivers of the trucks.
To monitor driver responsibility and reduce liability, a rising number of fleet managers for solid waste and recycling operations have turned to dash cameras and other video monitoring systems in recent years. Where appropriate, dash cameras and other video monitoring devices can assist in retraining drivers and operators who have displayed poor practices that threaten safety.
Many cities have adopted laws in hopes of preventing distracted driving; we have seen this more in the last several years with the growth in prominence of mobile devices. While cellphones are likely the most distracting issue, drivers can become distracted when talking to others in the vehicle, toying with the stereo or navigation system, or eating—among countless other diversions. Distractions, such as looking at a text, can take a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds—the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with their eyes closed.
While there are many reasons crashes can happen, distracted driving creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,142 people and injured more than 420,000 in 2020. Imagine an employee sitting at a red light who, because he is gazing at his phone, is unaware that the light has turned green. If the driver behind him becomes upset and honks their horn, the employee may accelerate without first assessing his surroundings. The driver behind him may develop impatience and swerve around him. In any case, a collision is possible. No one can safely operate a vehicle unless they are paying their full attention. Any other form of engagement raises the likelihood of a collision.
Fleets Taking a Hit
There are not many industries that face the level of distracted driving risk quite like solid waste and recycling. With drivers constantly out on the road, the odds of an accident are always elevated. Employers paid nearly $18.9 billion in 2018 from crashes that were caused by distracted driving. There is plenty for fleet managers to deal with when it comes to rising liability, safety risks, and the costs associated with distracted driving.
Following traffic laws is not only crucial for the safety of everyone on the road, but any crash can be costly to a business. Repairs to a fleet vehicle or the replacement of one entirely can be expensive, and that means there is one fewer vehicle on the road in the meantime, while also leading to raised insurance costs. Medical expenses can grow quickly to fulfill worker compensation claims. In addition, lawsuits can also be expensive and time-consuming. All these risks combined can lead to a damaged reputation, too, especially if a pedestrian victim claims the action of a fleet’s driver caused injury or loss.
Safety Through Tech
There is a lot at stake when it comes to a company running a fleet of vehicles. While stop lights and other laws of the road are created to make roads a safer place for all, managers should implement technology so that they can safeguard their drivers, assets, and others on the roads. One of the most significant ways managers can ensure safety is by implementing smart dash cameras that are capable of real-time incident detection, determining who is at fault in a crash, and executing intelligent automated reporting. Such a camera can detect infringements such as whether a driver is distracted, if there was a hard acceleration, driver drowsiness, speeding violations, seatbelt non-compliance, violations at stop signs and traffic signs, if a driver is following too closely, or hard braking.
With a smart dash cam, managers do not have to sift through hours of video to review and evaluate, but instead, receive alerts and videos when drivers exceed a threshold that has been set for an assortment of behaviors. So, after artificial intelligence (AI) views and analyzes every minute of driving for comprehensive safety in real-time, it can recognize those behaviors without human intervention. In-cab audio warnings allow employees to receive quick feedback to improve their driving habits, without requiring intervention by managers. Additionally, machine learning (ML) enables the dash camera to grow smarter with use and updates. Overall, your fleet will experience a safety culture that is built on transparency and fairness.
With dash cameras, automated and customizable coaching sessions give managers the advantage of focusing on top priorities and events that should be corrected. When they have insight into driving behaviors, managers have complete visibility across every second their drivers are on the road. Not only can they receive all the information on any negative habits, but they can also see when their drivers have incident-free hours. This can bolster an environment where employees are acknowledged for their good trends and rewarded—a great incentive for drivers to practice safe driving every second they are on the road.
The End Goal
There are several factors a waste and recycling fleet manager must consider when deploying workers out on the road, including proactively recognizing and correcting dangerous behaviors to protect drivers and pedestrians from harm. Smart cameras are designed for use in fleet operations, providing an immediate return on investment, safeguarding the bottom line, and protecting the lives and well-being of a fleet’s most valuable assets—their drivers. Smart cameras will play a leading role in shaping a more efficient and safer road environment as safety becomes an increasingly important determinant of successful fleet management. | WA
Belinda Rueffer is Vice President of Marketing at GPS Insight. With nearly a decade of experience in the transportation and fleet industries, Belinda is an advocate for driver and vehicle safety initiatives and the technologies that fuel them. Based in Dallas, TX, Belinda has an MBA in Marketing, and is honored to be recognized as a leader in transportation and supply chain by Moxy: The Voice of Women in Infrastructure. For more information, visit www.gpsinsight.com.