With the dangers involved in waste pickup, taking precautionary measures to improve safety demonstrates a company’s commitment to its drivers and communities, along with the overall safety culture of the company. Video-based safety technology allows companies to improve driver performance as well as avoid costly repercussions like nuclear verdicts, property damage and workers’ comp claims.
By Jason Palmer

Within the waste and recycling industry, video-based safety solutions are becoming an increasingly important aspect of companies’ comprehensive approach to safety, as drivers and managers continue to recognize the benefits the technology can offer. Given the dangers associated with driving a waste truck, it is critical for companies to invest in the best technology to protect drivers (and the community), ensure standard operating procedures are being followed, improve operational safety and secure the bottom line.

The waste and recycling industry is one of the most challenging industries in the U.S. Collection fleet vehicles frequently operate in congested and hazardous environments and face significant risk tied to collisions, personal injury and property damage. For these reasons, fleets approach managing risk and operating safely very seriously, not only to ensure the safety of their employees and the general public, but also to reduce costs, fleet claims and litigation, while improving operational efficiency. Adding to the complexity of an already risky operating environment is new technology.

The Safety Benefits of Video Technology
By using video-based safety technology, companies are able to ensure safe habits among drivers. Video helps identify drivers’ risky habits, including distracted driving, too closely following the vehicle in front of them, hard braking and more. When triggered, these systems record the incident and, coupled with expert review and data analytics, companies can receive actionable insights to effectively coach their drivers to improve. By understanding the most common risks among their drivers, and prioritizing intervention based on company-specific criteria, companies can proactively correct these habits through safety training and one-on-one driver coaching sessions (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: When a driver is accused and it was not their fault, you want that information now, not later. In a crisis, there is a big difference between access to video in minutes versus
hours or days.
Images courtesy of SmartDrive.

Because of their unique operational profiles, which may include backing or maneuvering in tight alleyways, collection fleets often require unique video-based safety system configurations. Most waste collection fleets leverage at least four cameras, providing 360-degree visibility in the cab and around the vehicle. The most advanced solutions allow for eight or 12 cameras. This added visibility is critical to the safety of waste collection employees, who operate near and around the vehicle throughout the day. For waste and recycling fleets, in particular, multiple camera deployments can also help ensure compliance with standard operating procedures, such as confirming whether the driver stepped out of the cab prior to backing or used a spotter for backing assistance (see Figure 2).



Figure 2: Lowering risk requires more than just a camera. You need an integrated managed services program that combines expert review with an easy-to-use coaching process, resulting in ongoing and continuous driver improvement.


Video-based safety technology also helps make sure standard operating procedures are being followed, ensuring the safety of workers and the work environment. By reviewing captured video of the area surrounding the truck, managers may monitor for, and quickly intervene, to address any breaches of standard protocol. By monitoring and confirming all adherence with standard operating procedures, companies avoid disastrous accidents.

The Financial Benefits of Video Technology
In addition to increasing driver safety, video technology can help companies save money and improve the bottom line. Today, nuclear verdicts and skyrocketing insurance premiums are the norm. To ensure their very survival, companies must take every measure possible to minimize risk, reduce collision frequency and improve overall safety. Typically, 30 percent of a company’s budget is spent on collisions, violations and citations that could have been prevented. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the average cost of a truck crash resulting in zero injuries is $91,000. When injuries do occur, the average jumps to $200,000 and when a tragic fatality occurs, the average cost is $3.6 million.

Given the ROI of video-based safety programs, companies are wise to recognize the benefits of adoption and prioritize this investment in fleet safety to proactively protect the bottom line. By identifying risk and intervening to avoid incidents on the road, video platforms help companies avoid hefty payouts.

Debilitating legal judgements are at an all-time high and insurance premiums continue to rise—even for companies with near-perfect records. However, with video-based safety technology, companies can use video recordings in court to exonerate drivers. Whether the cameras are road-facing, cab-facing or a 360-degree view around the vehicle, video is critical in understanding exactly what happened at the time of the incident.

Selecting a Solution Provider
When choosing a video-based safety program, factors to consider include specific offerings, scalability and flexibility. When assessing which vendor will best fit the needs of their company, managers should consider the features offered by the program—for example, do they offer 360-degree views, extended recording and distracted driving triggers? Additionally, managers must consider if the technology is able to grow as their company does—is the platform extensible to accommodate fleet growth and employee expansion? Hardware flexibility is also important, so managers should be certain the solution can meet the company’s needs today and into the future, as operations may evolve. Further, as the technology evolves, it is important that managers consider how each solution provides updates—is it quick or will it require drivers to be off the road while hardware is replaced? Partnering with the right provider can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to adopting video-based safety.

With the dangers involved in waste pickup, taking precautionary measures to improve safety demonstrates the company’s commitment to its drivers and communities, along with the overall safety culture of the company. Video-based safety technology allows companies to improve driver performance as well as avoid costly repercussions like nuclear verdicts, property damage and workers’ comp claims. When examining which technology provider to select, managers must ensure the solution that they choose can identify and prioritize risk, support driver coaching and adherence with SOPs, and is scalable and flexible. With these criteria in mind, the company will be well on the road to a safer fleet. | WA

Jason Palmer is the COO of SmartDrive Systems (San Diego, CA), a leading provider of video-based safety and transportation intelligence. As an expert in driver safety and risk mitigation, Jason helps companies and fleets in a variety of industries, including waste and recycling, identify and eliminate the riskiest driving behaviors that lead to collisions. He can be reached at Jason.palmer@smartdrive.net.

See SmartDrive in action:


• www.smartdrive.net/revising-the-roi-of-truck-safety-technologies
• www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/good-business/safety-good-business