How Dash Cam Technology Protects Your Truck Fleet
A recent survey from J.J. Keller asked fleet managers to identify top contributors essential for an ideal work environment, to which respondents said having drivers that make safety-driven choices was extremely important. 1 Understandably so, since road safety risks are an inherent danger for fleet operators. And with these risks comes an increased likelihood of litigation against the fleet if vehicle crash incidents are to occur. Whitney Somers, an attorney for Cokinos Young whose practice specializations include transportation litigation, has experience in defending trucking fleets.
Whenever trucking fleets get tied up in litigation following an on-road incident, Somers said that there tends to be a bias from the perspective of the juries, in general, where the road behaviors of truck drivers become some of the most scrutinized aspects of these cases. “The problem is, going in front of a jury, unfortunately, tractor-trailers are viewed negatively, and that’s an unfortunate thing because they deliver a huge service to our nation,” said Somers. However, there are ways fleets can defend and protect their drivers and themselves.
Dash Cams to the Rescue
Somers vouches for the benefits that dash cam solutions can provide fleets in protection against claims from other drivers. “I’ve had plenty of cases where the dash cam shows that the other driver cut right in front of our truck and then slammed on their brakes. Well, guess what, you can’t do that right in front of a truck with a fully loaded trailer,” she said.
Having footage that can objectively support fleets during incidents like these will help them overcome many of the headaches of litigation experienced following these events.
“Anytime there’s a claim from another party that our tractor-trailer rear-ended their vehicle, if we have dash cams, we know right away whether or not that’s true,” said Somers. “And so I think it’s extremely helpful in being able to assess the situation very quickly, and deciding what is the best path to resolution that’s going to cause the least expense, and the least wasted time and effort for the client, which for me, is the trucking company.”
Fleets Getting Unfairly Blamed
As Somers mentioned earlier, there often is an unfair bias against truckers and trucking companies following crashes with other drivers, even if who was actually at fault in the crash has yet to be determined. “When vehicles have accidents with tractor-trailers, no matter who’s at fault, unfortunately, the companies of the tractor-trailers tend to get sued. Even if it’s the plaintiff’s fault, that’s just the trend that we see through and through,” said Somers.
Indeed, securing dash cam and telematics solutions will provide the objective insight to support claims against your fleet, if nothing else can. “Those dash cameras can turn those viewpoints around, a complete 180 degrees, very fast,” she said. “Faster than anything else can.”
Cutting Out Fraud
Unfortunately, these collision types are not exclusively the result of driver ignorance. Somers has observed multiple instances in which other drivers had deliberately cut too closely in front of large tractor-trailer trucks, slammed on their brakes – causing a rear-end collision – and subsequently made a claim against the company.
Some of the drivers looking to make fraudulent claims against the fleet may have a perception of the trucking fleet having “deep pockets” and might look to tap into that for financial gain.
“There are people who are aware that trucking companies carry larger insurance policies, and so they do those things,” she said.
Somers said these other drivers may make a claim of innocence, suggesting they were behaving properly on the road. Fortunately, in some of these instances, the trucks were equipped with dash cam technology and able to provide an objective representation of what happened. “We pulled up the dash cam footage and then we get to call him on that and call their bluff and find out exactly what happened,” she said.
Drivers Embracing New Dash Cam Technology
While there still exists some resistance and hesitation on the part of fleet drivers to operate vehicles that are equipped with telematics or dash cam technologies, Somers said that drivers who have benefited from the solutions these technologies offer have flipped some of the negative preconceived notions of them. “Every driver I’ve talked to, who has actually ever been involved in even a minor incident, who has had the camera in there has been extremely thankful that the camera was there, even when they told me previously they didn’t want the cameras,” Somers said.
Trust Your Drivers
While investing in dash cam technologies and generally being aware of the risks that are inherent in managing a corporate fleet is essential, ensuring that your fleet drivers are doing their part to navigate safely on the road should be a priority. This should serve as the fundamental piece to your fleet’s plan to support itself in cases of litigation.
As an example, Somers mentioned representing a truck driver, and their respective trucking company, who were being sued by another driver who had alleged the truck driver crashed into their vehicle due to negligence from the driver. Somers, however, was confident in the innocence of the truck driver from this incident, which ended up being represented in front of a jury.
“Our driver did really well on the stand,” Somers said. “We always believed it, we always felt like he was telling the truth. And everything he told us always matched up to the evidence. And I think the jury felt the same way.”
The truck driver ended up being completely absolved of any liability in this case, even though this particular case was not supported by dash cam footage. Being confident in the ability of your fleet should really be the first major step in the mitigation of litigation headaches.
Dealing with High Turnover
Unfortunately, ensuring that your fleet is completely composed of drivers who are competent in proper road etiquette can be difficult, especially in an industry that is known for having high driver turnover. “There’s a lot of turnover, there’s a huge shortage of drivers,” she said. “So it’s really hard for these trucking companies to keep these trained drivers out on the road, and continue training them because then they’re leaving.”
Somers noted that trucking companies dedicate a lot of time and effort into training drivers that often go unrecognized. However, smaller mom-and-pop companies may sometimes struggle to keep continued and consistent driver training through their organizations.
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.
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