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Video Telematics 101

How Video Telematics Systems Protect Drivers and Assets

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Adding cameras to your vehicles will boost safety, productivity, and claims management – providing greater data and clarity around events.

Mastering risk management is an essential part of running a successful business because it involves reducing the greatest threats. When you manage a fleet of vehicles, the most serious risk to your business usually involves “the human factor” – your drivers. Risky driving behaviors such as speeding and other aggression, distraction, and drowsiness lead to collisions that cause damage to company assets and injuries or fatalities to those involved.

At their most basic level, telematics solutions provide data around the location, operation, and health of a company vehicle. Adding a dashcam provides a multiplier effect, because the data you receive is more robust, timely, and accurate.

Video snippets of accidents, including the moments before and after the crash, provide additional context that clearly shows what happened and who may be at fault. This takes the guesswork out of the equation for insurance and legal team members.

“Video doesn’t lie,” telematics industry analyst Clem Driscoll has said. Fleet managers can effectively use video event snippets to coach drivers to help drivers eliminate risky behaviors such as speeding and hard cornering.

The majority of truck accidents are caused by passenger cars, according to the American Trucking Association. This finding was validated by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, whose report said 81% of truck crashes were caused by cars.

Commercial truck crashes often come after the car makes a left turn in front of the truck, improperly merges into traffic, or pulls in front of a truck at intersections.

Statistics Tell the Story

Recent statistics show that truck accidents are on the rise. More than 4,100 people died in crashes involving large trucks and buses, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

While fleet drivers present risk, drivers of passenger vehicles around the fleet vehicle also present risk – oftentimes, it’s the other driver who caused the accident. Fleet owners and managers who can correctly assign blame to the non-commercial vehicle who caused the crash – and thus exonerate their own driver – can save countless dollars in settlements or high-dollar court judgments – so-called “nuclear verdicts” exceed $10 million and often contain extensive punitive damages.

  • 81% of truck crashes are caused by passenger cars
  • Non passenger cars

How Video Telematics Systems Work

Earlier dash cameras have evolved into video telematics that now allows fleet managers to modify driver behavior and receive timely evidence from accidents known as “first notification of loss” (FNOL) by insurers.

These systems combine vehicle and driver data using a smart g-force sensor, GPS, high definition video and audio recording, a microphone, and built-in 4G LTE. They alert fleet managers about speeding, hard braking, and hard cornering.

They are available in three main configurations – a forward-facing, dual-facing, or a multi-camera system that adds auxiliary cameras to capture views on the side or at the rear of the vehicle.

The forward-facing lens provides a view of the road ahead, while a dual-facing lens adds a lens pointed toward the driver. Several video providers offer in-cab cameras with four lenses that also capture views of the right and left of the vehicle.

Multi-camera systems add cameras on the outside of the vehicle – often mounted on the side-view mirrors or on a door panel – and potentially a view of the rear of the vehicle. Rear-facing cameras help drivers when backing up or seeing a vehicle that’s fast approaching in a blind zone. A multi-camera system requires a vehicle gateway to manage the video feeds from the various devices.

To manage the video coming from the cameras, fleet or safety managers can set up parameters in their fleet management portal to receive email alerts around certain behaviors. Video snippets are recorded – sometimes with the help of an onboard DVR – and sent to a cloud server.

To review the snippets, fleet managers submit requests or view the clips on a dashboard. The AI-based systems layer on additional features for more advanced detection of distraction, drowsiness, and detection of objects on the road ahead. AI is needed for the facial recognition technology that triggers alerts for drowsiness or distraction such as cell-phone use, seat-belt compliance, or eating and drinking.

AI devices provide greater automation of driver coaching workflow using spoken-voice alerts with edge computing and deeper visual analysis with smarter devices that use machine learning.

How Video Telematics Improves Safety

Video monitoring systems help fleet managers attack lapses in safe driving behavior in several ways:

• Accident prevention via real-time alerts

• Driver behavior coaching

• Improved accuracy for driver scoring and risk assessment

• Contextual data to traditional events such as speeding, aggressive driving, etc.

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these benefits.

Video telematics systems monitor drivers and send real-time alerts so fleet managers can provide coaching and follow-up more quickly. These systems pair well with traditional telematics by providing deeper and more timely data.

Fleets can pair their real-time alerting with driver messaging platforms to quickly let drivers know they need to correct an emerging pattern of risky driving.

Video snippets also help with driver coaching, because they provide awareness to drivers who or monthly coaching meetings for teaching may not be aware that their driving is creating risk. The snippets can be used during the weekly moments with high-risk drivers or kudos for lower-risk ones.

Video also improves accuracy for driver scorecards and risk assessment initiatives because it’s capturing much more data on the individual driver. A more fulsome picture helps fleet and safety managers categorize their fleet into high, medium, and low-risk buckets.

As one example, some camera systems can read posted speeding limits, which gives a more accurate view of speeding. A driver that regularly 10 mph or more over the posted limit will be a higher risk than one that exceeds the limit by 2 mph.

This data helps you build accurate risk profiles with scorecards, so when it comes time to adjust the weighting over time of various behavior, you’ll have the data to do it.

Video also provides contextual data for traditional events such as speeding, hard cornering, and hard braking. If you have a driver with several hard braking events, the video may show that his route is on a busy freeway with passenger cars constantly merging in front of his truck to cut into gridlocked traffic.

How Video Systems Enhance Performance

Video telematics systems make a fleet more productive with four main benefits:

• Visibility of operation

• Proof of services

• Driver ranking

• Asset protection

In-cab video gives fleet owners and managers greater visibility because they can view their operation through a forward- or driver-facing lens. Monitoring the proper use of a company vehicle can help reduce maintenance costs from overly aggressive driving.

Some market sectors use video to show proof that a service was delivered. For example, in the refuse business, waste collection fleets may need to show they picked up trash receptacles from certain addresses for verification or payment.

Accurate driver scoring allows fleets to rank drivers as part of a rewards initiative to give gift certificates to the safest drivers. These programs gain greater credibility among the driver pool.

Cameras also allow fleets to protect their vehicles while they aren’t in use. These systems often use infrared imaging to capture snippets at night while vehicles are parked in the fleet depot. This footage can be given to investigators in case of a break-in or theft from the vehicle. Video monitoring also provides a deterrent against thefts by opportunistic workers on the inside.

How Video Systems Boost Claims Management

Once an accident occurs, the company’s commercial insurer will conduct an investigation of the crash. Vehicles equipped with video telematics will aide this process in several ways:

• First notice of loss (FNOL)

• Driver exoneration

• Touchless claims

• Events recreation

• Accessibility of crash video

• Lower insurance cost

The snippet from the crash serves as the FNOL for the carrier at the outset of the claim. Harsh event notifications captured by the system can be used for the FNOL. Insurers become aware of incidents sooner, so they can more accurately and quickly determine fault and process claims faster.

Oftentimes, the video snippet shows that the crash was caused by an unsafe maneuver by the passenger vehicle that collided with the truck, which can quickly put an end to settlement demands stemming from injury claims or lawsuits against the trucking company. Video that exonerates drivers means company lawyers won’t see the inside of a courtroom.

Digital video files help insurers recreate crashes and quickly review data files while working on the claim.

When writing the initial policy, insurers will access data that helps tailor the policy to the customer.

Some commercial insurers are providing credits for fleets that use video. For example, Insurer RLI Transportation recently announced it was providing a 5% discount to fleets that employed a video-monitoring system.

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