In-cab cameras are becoming the norm. Drivers are frequently purchasing their own cameras if their company does not have a program. In today’s “Youtube” world, video evidence is invaluable.
Rear-facing cameras present the next hurdle for acceptance. Many driver’s balk at the thought of being “under constant surveillance”. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding and misses the value of the rear-facing cameras to the company AND the driver.
First, rear-facing cameras evidence a company’s continuous program of training and supervision. In an industry that sends it operators of heavy equipment to distant locations out of direct sight, ongoing supervision presents a significant challenge.
Proving sufficient supervision in a Court case presents even more of a challenge. This is addressed by rear-facing cameras.
We did an online focus group on the topics of hiring, training, and supervision. The group was given a hypothetical accident and told negligence was admitted. The only issues were as to the corporate claims.
The evidence included the presence of a rear-facing camera in the cab. The “jurors” the company was not liable on the supervision claim as the rear-facing cameras provided 24/7 supervision.
Second, the driver AND the company are protected as to the driver’s actions in an accident. Rear-facing cameras document and prove the driver’s attention, lack of distraction, and focus on driving. It removes any speculation that the accident occurred because of the driver’s inattentiveness due to phone calls, texts, or otherwise.
While phone records can document the absence of activity generally, the lack of precision of the times indicated and the accident time on the police report can give a basis for an argument that the driver was so engaged at the time of the accident. It reduces the activity to a question of credibility, leaving the jury to form a conclusion on their own.
Rear-facing cameras provide the proof that the driver was not engaged at the specific moment of the accident. Alternatively, it documents hands-free phone use as opposed to leaving open the possibility that it was handheld.
The absence of driver fatigue or drowsiness is also documented by the rear-facing camera. Public misconceptions as to driver habits can result in baseless conclusions that the driver must have nodded off.
Important? Check out the NHTSA report on the January 19, 2016 bus accident that resulted in two passengers being killed and 13 injured near San Jose, California.
Rear-facing camera eliminated any question of driver fatigue or distraction. The forward-facing camera evidenced the cause to be unmarked highway gore, out-of-compliance signage, and an unrepaired crash attenuator which led to the driver’s inability to see the forward hazard.
Driver concerns about a new device being added to the cab and focused on them are understandable. However, explanation of its operation (event-triggered, not streaming) and value (protective proof rather than undue intrusion) is crucial for its acceptance.
Rear-facing cameras are the next step in the progression of protective evidence in today’s trucking world. Use it.