Linda Sloan, business segment director leasing, LCV and SMB at Masternaut
As we begin the second half of 2021, fleet managers are looking into connected cameras to improve the overall safety of the fleet and drivers.
One of the more surprising outcomes of Covid-19 has been a surge in speeding violations.
As lockdowns emptied the UK’s roads, many of those still driving saw an opportunity to put their foot down – and took it.
Figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show a startling 56% of cars exceeded the speed limit on 30mph roads and 53% on motorways.
The data is particularly difficult reading for fleet managers — with 58% and 55% of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) exceeding limits on 30mph roads and motorways, respectively.
Above and beyond pandemic inspired speed increases, driver behaviour — both actual and assumed — presents real challenges.
Clearly, safety is the primary concern, but there is also the potential for reputation damage, increased costs (including fuel-inefficient driving, insurance, litigation and fines), as well as the loss of experienced drivers to bans.
Action needs to be taken quickly if it’s not to have long-lasting, adverse impacts on fleet operations.
Cameras in the cab
A growing number of fleet management companies are exploring connected camera solutions — with driver facing cameras now a daily reality in many fleets.
These cameras come in a variety of configurations — showing the driver in the cab, the view from the cab and other key points around the vehicle.
Most will automatically trigger recordings in the event of an incident such as a crash and upload footage — including some seconds prior to the incident to provide context.
Some solutions also provide an ‘emergency button’, which the driver can push if they feel they are at risk.
Further options can include telematic data, recording events such as harsh acceleration, braking or speeding.
These systems will obviously introduce an additional fleet cost, but savings are likely to more than offset implementation outlays.
Vehicle camera systems have been shown to deliver positive road safety outcomes — reducing risks to employees, other road users and business reputations.
Alongside this, effective and responsible driving behaviours are likely to result in reduced fuel costs and higher vehicle residual values.
Big brother vs best buddy
While these solutions give fleet managers access to objective and comprehensive evidence of driver behaviour, they are never going to be successful without driver agreement.
The introduction of cameras into any environment may bring some unexpected challenges with onboarding.
Initial reactions are likely to focus on ‘big brother’ intrusion into the workplace.
Fleet managers can offer compelling reassurance here to ensure that drivers understand the need for, and benefits of, a camera in the cab.
Operators can help to address driver concerns by being completely clear on what the camera system does and does not do, alongside what it will and will not be used for.
Understanding, for example, that footage will only be triggered by a specific set of incidents or actions, including manual operation in an emergency, will reassure many drivers.
It is important to share understanding that the camera protects the driver as much as anyone else.
Vexatious insurance claims are, for example, an unfortunate fact for modern professional drivers — and fleet vehicles are often targeted.
Driving camera systems can immediately and irrefutably expose fraudsters and protect drivers from these types of scam.
The key to successful implementation will always be openness, honesty and clear communication to bring drivers with you.
A connected future
Despite the numerous benefits of connected cameras, these systems aren’t a silver bullet for driver safety.
Rather, they provide fleet managers and companies with a useful new tool that can guide their overall safety commitment.
As businesses plan their strategies for 2021 and beyond, technological innovations such as connected cameras will play a significant role in the future of fleet management.
With its potential to improve safety, reduce costs and improve driving skills, we will continue to see an increase in uptake across the industry.