Quick Transport Solutions Inc.

The Value of Auxiliary Dash Cams for Fleet Safety

The integration of road- and driver-facing video footage has revolutionized fleet management, regardless of fleet size or service type. These cameras have become a staple in modern trucks, acting as an unbiased witness in the case of an accident and as a training tool to improve driver behavior. But is capturing only two perspectives, one of the truck driver in the cab and one of the roads in front of the vehicle, enough? The answer is no.

As our roads become busier and the margins for error become even smaller, having a complete picture of the environment around the vehicle is increasingly crucial. This is where auxiliary cameras come into play. These cameras, positioned strategically on a vehicle’s side, rear, and/or cargo areas, deliver a panoramic view that traditional two-camera setups simply can’t match. They fill in the gaps, removing blind spots that could potentially hide critical details in the event of an incident.

Whether a sideswipe occurs on a busy highway, a rear-end collision happens at a stoplight, or theft and vandalism take place when the vehicle is parked, these additional lenses provide an invaluable perspective. They provide a fuller story, not just for assessing blame after an accident, but also for proactively identifying and correcting unsafe truck driver behavior before it leads to a major incident.

In an industry where safety and accountability are paramount, auxiliary cameras are rapidly becoming not just a useful addition, but a necessity for responsible and effective fleet management.

Bridging the Gap: The Necessity of Auxiliary Cameras

Positioned on a vehicle’s side, rear, and/or cargo areas, auxiliary cameras are making significant contributions to dash cam safety programs. Here’s how:

  • Litigation: They help in increasing the chance of truck driver exoneration and minimizing legal impacts.
  • Security/Theft: They amplify driver security, deter, and document cargo loss.
  • FMCSA Compliance: They aid in non-preventable crash determinations.

Exoneration & Litigation: The Hard Numbers

The Crash Preventability Determination Program (CPDP) allows carriers to challenge crash preventability across various crash types. Companies submitted nearly 40,000 preventability determination requests through the DataQs system, with 96% of eligible crashes deemed non-preventable, according to FMCSA data.

Adding video clips from auxiliary cameras, along with the police accident report (PAR) and other documents, strengthens a carrier’s case when requesting a review. This is a critical evolution in crash assessment, as the integration of such video evidence can vividly clarify scenarios that might otherwise be ambiguous or skewed due to incomplete or unreliable eyewitness accounts.

In a world where a single crash can have severe financial, reputational, and operational consequences for a carrier, the stakes are incredibly high. Every detail matters, and auxiliary camera footage can often provide that crucial, decisive piece of information. These cameras can, for instance, demonstrate a driver’s awareness and responsiveness to a sudden hazard, or prove that a vehicle was operating within its lane when a collision occurred.

Moreover, these added perspectives can also reveal important context, such as the behavior of other road users or environmental conditions that played a role in the incident. This comprehensive view of events not only stands to benefit the carrier in question but helps to uphold the broader principle of fairness and accuracy in the evaluation of incidents.

In an increasingly litigious society where carriers are often seen as easy targets for lawsuits, the incorporation of auxiliary camera footage as evidence is a game-changing strategy. It empowers carriers to robustly defend their truck drivers and operations, leading to a more equitable resolution of disputes and fostering a culture of accountability and safety that benefits the entire industry.

Deterring Cargo Theft and Protecting Drivers

Visible exterior and cargo compartment cameras act as a strong deterrent to cargo theft, which has seen a significant rise in recent years. In 2022 alone, cargo theft amounted to an alarming $223 million in the US and Canada.

The presence of these cameras serves as a constant reminder to potential thieves. This psychological factor alone can be enough to make criminals think twice before targeting a vehicle equipped with conspicuous surveillance equipment. For the would-be thieves bold enough to proceed, the high-quality footage captured by these cameras can be crucial in identifying and prosecuting the offenders, acting as undeniable evidence that works in favor of the law enforcement agencies.

Additionally, for truck drivers who spend long hours on the road and are compelled to rest in poorly lit, remote areas due to the lack of designated parking spaces, the added security of auxiliary cameras can provide significant peace of mind. Knowing that their valuable cargo, as well as their personal safety, is under constant watch, allows drivers to rest more comfortably during their mandated breaks. This, in turn, can lead to better rested, more alert drivers, which is a fundamental aspect of overall road safety.

The auxiliary cameras, therefore, are not just pieces of technology affixed to a truck; they are integral tools in a broader strategy to protect both valuable cargo and the invaluable people tasked with transporting it. In a fraught environment where risks lurk at every parking stop, these cameras stand as vigilant guardians, actively contributing to the safety and security of the trucking industry.

Supporting Non-Preventable Crash Determinations

The Crash Preventability Determination Program (CPDP) allows carriers to challenge crash preventability across various crash types. Companies submitted nearly 40,000 preventability determination requests through the DataQs system, with 96% of eligible crashes deemed non-preventable, according to FMCSA data.

Adding video clips from auxiliary cameras, along with the police accident report (PAR) and other documents, strengthens a carrier’s case when requesting a review. These video clips, capturing multiple angles and perspectives of the incident, present a clear and objective narrative that words alone might fail to convey.

Moreover, these cameras are not just reactive but proactive tools. By routinely reviewing this footage, carriers and drivers can engage in constructive dialogue about safety practices, allowing for targeted training and development. It’s a learning opportunity, turning each recorded mile into a potential lesson in road safety.

Auxiliary Cameras for the Win

The rise of auxiliary cameras, in conjunction with CPDP, represents a significant step toward a more fair and just evaluation system. No longer must carriers solely rely on written reports and the accounts of potentially biased witnesses. Instead, they have at their disposal concrete evidence that can exonerate their drivers and protect their company’s reputation.

Furthermore, this evidence can have ripple effects beyond the individual case. As more carriers equip their fleets with auxiliary cameras and successfully challenge crash preventability, a new standard of accountability may emerge within the industry. Over time, this could contribute to the development of more effective training programs, the improvement of vehicle technology, and the revision of regulations informed by the objective data these cameras provide.

In essence, auxiliary cameras, when integrated into the CPDP process, are empowering carriers to take control of their narratives, affirm their commitment to safety, and actively engage in the continual improvement of the trucking industry’s standards and practices.

Proposed Crash Types and Auxiliary Camera Assistance

Auxiliary cameras assist with some of the current sixteen crash types in the CPDP, as well as four proposed types, including incidents where:

  • The CMV was struck on the side by another motorist.
  • Another motorist entering the roadway from a private driveway or parking lot hit the CMV.
  • Another motorist lost control of their vehicle before striking the CMV.
  • Video evidence from the carrier demonstrates the crash was not preventable.

Augmenting your existing vehicle camera system with auxiliary cameras can significantly bolster your safety program. If you are considering a vehicle camera system, integrating auxiliary cameras should be part of that conversation to ensure you maximize your return on investment.

With safety as a paramount concern for any fleet, these auxiliary lenses may well prove to be not just another set of eyes, but a pivotal component of modern, responsible fleet management.

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