Features
22 Jun 21

How cameras are enriching telematics safety data

Fleets are deploying forward-facing and driver-facing cameras to gain a more complete understanding of driver behaviour than raw telematics data can provide.

By combining video footage with vehicle performance data, fleet managers can view and analyse ‘near miss’ incidents that left unchecked might lead to a crash.

Post-crash video is also providing fleet managers with a rich insight into drivers’ actions in the seconds before a collision occurs, and enabling fleets to defend at-fault accident claims that might otherwise be treated as 50:50 incidents by insurers.

Van fleet fits cameras

LiveWest, a UK-based fleet, is installing dash cams throughout its 380-strong light commercial vehicle fleet, with plans to include half of its vans by the end of this year.

Paul Ayris, Fleet Manager at LiveWest, said the cameras were not simply improving drivers’ mindsets, but also providing more valuable resources for driver training.

“Backed with high quality video footage, it has been far easier for us to provide guidance to drivers on areas of improvement and for them to take feedback onboard,” he said. “This means we can quickly nip any issue in the bud before it poses a threat to driver welfare, other road users and the reputation of the business.”

G-shock alerts trigger video

Tools and equipment hire company, Speedy Services, has synchronised its telematics system with cameras in its fleet of LCVs and heavy trucks to deliver video footage whenever the system records a G-shock alert. The result has been a 35% reduction in road collisions since the cameras were installed, and allowed the company to defend itself against false claims. Plus, where a Speedy driver is at-fault for a crash, almost instant access to video footage of the incident has allowed Speedy’s claims team to react quickly and establish greater control over third party costs, reducing the cost of its at-fault claims by 40%.

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Driver-facing cameras

The next frontier of video telematics is turning the cameras on the drivers, rather than the road ahead.

Damian Penney, Vice President Europe, Lytx, said: “Much of traditional telematics software merely identifies G-force triggers such as excessive braking or swerving and can therefore only be acted upon once the incident has happened. This means a driver could be eating or texting, but unless a sharp brake or swerve occurs, traditional telematics would label this driver as ‘good’.”

But now new technologies, such as Machine Vision and Artificial Intelligence (AI), can monitor a driver’s face to identify signs of riskier driving behaviour.

“Machine Vision scans the internal and external environment of the vehicle to identify distracted driving behaviours such as mobile phone use, eating, drinking, smoking, inattentive behaviour, or failure to wear a seatbelt,” said Penney. “AI, comparing the behaviour against a vast bank of accumulated data, is then able to determine the riskiness of that situation and whether it needs to be flagged to the fleet manager via a short video clip.” 

Instant driver alerts

Fleets can decide whether these incidents should be met by a visual or audible alert directly in the vehicle to remind the driver to pay attention to the road ahead, or used to deliver compelling evidence for more personalised training programmes.

“For example, a driver may not have registered that that they were regularly following the vehicle in front too closely,” said Penney. “Allowing them to watch themselves back on video is a far more direct and effective way of communicating what has happened than simply telling them about it.”

And when collisions do occur, driver-facing cameras allow fleet managers to see exactly what was happening: “inside the vehicle in the lead up to an incident – and provide insights that can lead to more informed conversations with drivers, reducing the likelihood of potentially dangerous road incidents,” he added.

Driver communication

The introduction of in-vehicle cameras needs to be done sensitively to avoid alarming and upsetting drivers. MiX Telematics, which has recently launched its own AI-based driver-facing camera, advises fleets to publish a dedicated dashcam policy that communicates how any video footage will be used, and suggests this policy should focus on supporting a safety culture rather than disciplinary action. It also recommends that fleets should be clear about which vehicles will have cameras installed, how the footage will be stored, and who will have access to it.

 

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Jonathan Manning