Dash Cams Can Save Your Fleet from Truck Accident Fraud & Litigation
The need for fleet driver coaching and regular occurrence of accidents have made GPS tracking a must-have solution, particularly highlighted by the increasing adoption of dash cam solutions.
Dash cam solutions not only help fleet managers learn more about and correct driver behaviors, but they also help provide objective insights for collision incidents via footage collected from these devices. “Industry customer practice now is you better have everything electronic, and you better have a front-facing camera. That’s regardless even if you’re the little owner-operator, Mr. Smith, down in Houston, Texas with one truck,” said Shari Goggin, partner, Resnick & Louis law firm.
Most Common Fleet Truck Collisions
Rear-end crashes account for about 29% of all traffic accidents1, and are also one of the most common vehicle collision types that occurs within the fleet industry2, whether a fleet driver causes the crash or is on the receiving end of it.
Even if your drivers follow basic traffic laws and exercise sound judgment on the road, your fleet is inevitably bound to experience rear-end crash incidents and the subsequent frustrations that are a part of the experience. Heavy-duty truck crashes, for example, will often involve the truck driver striking the rear of another vehicle, which may lead to a general assumption that these drivers aren’t paying attention to the road.
However, these heavier vehicles need to have extra space between other vehicles – in front and behind – to allow for time to perform safe braking maneuvers and other unexpected actions.3 However, the onus to be mindful of these rules does not completely land strictly on the truck driver. Other drivers must be mindful of the functions and needs of heavy trucks, whether that’s not driving too closely or not cutting directly in front of the trucks.
Fleets who have incorporated dash cams into their vehicles can leverage the footage and data collected from the video feed of the vehicle to defend themselves in instances in which they are accused of being at fault in crash instances such as these
“That will help me win in front of a jury 95% of the time. But if you don’t have that front-facing camera, and it’s a rear-end crash, they’ll just say you should admit liability and see what damages are. The No. 1 advice that I always give is to have a front-facing camera,” said Goggin.
Types of Accident Fraud Schemes
Unfortunately, some collision instances may be deliberately staged as part of a criminal act. Indeed, criminals who stage accidents to receive payouts from insurance companies more often target commercial vehicles, rental vehicles, and new vehicles, because these vehicles are typically well-insured.4
Dash cams are a must-have solution for fleets who are attempting to eliminate instances of accident fraud where they become victims too.
Here are some of the most common accident schemes, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau:
Swoop and Squat: This usually involves three vehicles: two that are driven by criminals and another driven by an innocent bystander. In this scheme, a “squat” car positions itself in front of a victim’s vehicle, and a “swoop” car intentionally cuts off the “squat” car, causing a harsh braking instance, so the victim ends up rear-ending one of the criminals.
Side Swipe: Here a criminal typically positions their vehicle in the outer lane of a dual left-turn lane at a busy intersection, and as soon as the victim’s vehicle drifts into the outer turn lane, the criminal side swipes it.
Panic Stop: Panic stops usually involve a criminal driving an older vehicle filled with passengers that is driving in front of a potential victim. Backseat passengers in the criminal’s car watch to see if the victim becomes distracted at all and tell the driver to slam on the brakes, causing a rear-end crash.
Drive Down: With this scheme, a criminal would motion a victim to make a lane change, but as the victim begins to merge the criminal will speed up to cause a collision. When questioned after the crash, the criminal will deny having motioned the driver to make the lane change to absolve themselves of fault.
Fleets can more easily and effectively defend themselves in these instances if they have footage from an available dash cam solution to their defense, especially since a few of them are rooted in the dreaded – but common – rear-end collision.
“So the best advice that I always give 18-wheel trucks now, or anything that’s out on the open road a lot, is to get a front-facing camera, get a camera, that will be exactly as your windshield because you need to prevent rear-end accidents,” said Goggin.
Find Fleet Dash Cam Solutions to Match Your Needs
Not every dash cam and telematics solution will effectively serve the specific needs of your fleet, but your organization should be researching and understanding these technologies concerning how they are impacting the industry overall. Lacking dashcams will make instances of fraud much harder to combat. The technology available on vehicles also plays a role in whether a fleet is perceived to be negligent in the event of an accident. If the fleet has chosen not to use certain technology features with their vehicles, a jury may perceive omissions as negligence, in the event of litigation.
Dash cams help you avoid fraud when handling large-truck accidents that can cost from about $120,000 to truck and trailer crashes that average $382,000 in costs.5
“You’re not going to be a gold standard for everything unless you’re like a huge company with money to spend. But you really do need to take a look at your books and compare with what works and use that technology to your advantage,” said Goggin.
What is different in a fleet dashcam?
Dashcams for service fleets record more complete data than simple consumer dashcams. This includes all the relevant information of your vehicle including acceleration, speeding, vehicle accidents and more.
Fleet dashcams can record both inside and outside the vehicle. Once mounted, the dashcam footage is typically stored on a memory card within the camera. Most fleet dashcams, like the GPS Trackit VidFleet system use cloud-based technology to immediately upload recorded footage onto a server.
“The range of cameras, from dash cams are really apples to oranges, but they are all video-based systems,” said Clem Driscoll, founder, and principal of C.J. Driscoll & Associates, which offers marketing research within the telematics industry. “Some use basic dash cams that record the data and store it, some use [more advanced systems] and review the data periodically or after an event.”
What are dashcams used for?
Dashcams that face the driver are typically used in service fleet vans or delivery trucks. They provide your company with the evidence you need if risky behavior like distracted driving, occurs in the driver cab.
Accidents can occur at any time on the road. When the cause of the accident isn’t clear, it helps to provide the kind of evidence that can help clear up whatever confusion there might be about the events leading up to the accident.
Additionally, dashcams that face the road offer the owner assurance against a potentially fraudulent claim that could be made against them. But with a dashcam that offers legitimate evidence, your drivers can be cleared of fraudulent claims against them with video proof.
How many delivery fleets use some form of dashcam technology?
The 2019-20 Survey of Trucking Fleet Operator Interest in MRM Systems and Services indicated that more than 40 percent of trucking fleets had implemented some form of video cameras within their vehicles.
“I thought that was a fairly high percentage,” Driscoll said of the results.
As fleet management companies become more interested in technology and its ability to maximize every aspect of fleet operations, it’s hard to imagine the amount of interest in dashcam technology has decreased in the time since that survey was originally taken. Especially considering some of the other notable takeaways that could be gleaned from the results.
Along with the interest in cameras, 23 percent of those surveyed expressed an interest in the technology that would allow them to monitor other aspects of their vehicle including wheel monitoring, weight sensing, and door monitoring.
Drivers and fleet managers want access to all of the information that will allow them to track the on-the-job habits that affect overall performance and profitability. The easiest way to obtain that information is through the implementation of dashcams, which means they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. If anything, their use and importance will continue to grow in the coming years.
If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
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