Onboard Video: The Next Big Thing?

The trucking industry is showing major flexibility in adapting to ELDs; however, more digitally-driven changes are on the horizon.  The rapid development of inexpensive high-resolution digital video is one such technology moving into the driver’s cab.

Providing Multiple Advantages

With affordable onboard cameras now a reality, fleet managers are quickly moving to exploit their many current and potential advantages.  The concept of truck telematic systems is certainly not a new one, but the ability to capture real-time and recorded video analytics takes it to an entirely new level.

Moreover, trucking firms are discovering justifications for adding onboard video that go beyond those analytics.  These include:

  • Preventing and managing liability claims
  • Monitoring driver alertness and behavior
  • Safety-driven modifications to fleet policies and training
  • Preventing in-terminal and other accidents and losses

Moving Beyond Exterior Monitoring

The initial priority for installing video was for road-facing cameras.  These provide a view of oncoming traffic, weather, and a record of what the driver does (and does not) see.  This specific application often provides critical information in evaluating the factors involved in accidents.  As one real-world example of this application, Road Scholar Transport utilizes the Smart Drive capability on its trucks to minimize potential liability claims that may affect its customers.

Footage is also helpful in identifying drivers who may need coaching in such areas as allowing sufficient following distance, improper passing techniques, and other safety-driven concerns.

Some of the cameras used record continuously, while others are activated by such things as hard braking or a sudden acceleration or swerve.  In such cases, the cameras provide information that has never before been available to help manage drivers and fleets.

The increasingly diverse potential of onboard cameras to provide that data is now driving additional applications.  When two-way and driver-facing cameras are utilized, drivers are more conscious of managing habits such as the use of cellphones and allowing other distractions.  Adding side and rear cameras also provide much greater safety cushions when turning and maneuvering, especially within terminals and other facilities.

Drivers may resent the intrusion they see in such surveillance, but it can free them from liability in many situations.  Additionally, fleet managers place great value on the ability to maximize safety and productivity provided by this tool.  The ability to monitor and modify potentially dangerous situations is facilitating fleet-wide coaching and training to improve overall efficiency and safety.

The Role of Analytics

One example of such potential savings in fleets is found in fuel consumption.  Extensive data collection made possible by marrying video with other telematics helps companies identify specific braking and accelerating habits among those that drive the average mileage numbers.  In fact, some companies are even identifying specific segments of routes, such as hills or twisting roads, where coaching improves fuel efficiency.

Predictive analytics are now irreplaceable business factors in the airline industry and parallel to the trucking industry are evident.  Lytx is one provider of onboard video capabilities that is making such analytics a key part of its sales’ presentation.  There are already effective tools for predicting risks with certain driver and industry sector profiles.  At the same time, i ndustry experts explain that this is a rapidly growing area that promises new and increasingly powerful tools as more data is collected and understood on an industry-wide basis.