With the increasing buzz around “artificial intelligence” (AI), there’s a lot of hype around the applications for commercial fleets. But, are the benefits tangible and accessible as of today? Is all fleet AI equal? On Commercial Carrier Journal’s recent podcast, 10-44 with Jason Cannon and Matt Cole, Netradyne’s Director of Performance Marketing Austin Schmidt unveils how AI is more than just a tech catchphrase – unlocking valuable cost savings and driver safety improvements for commercial fleets.

The History of Dash Cams in Commercial Fleets

When dash cams first came into the fleet industry, their main role was to protect against “crash for cash” schemes and exonerate drivers. Over time, the technology improved to detect critical events like hard braking events, hard acceleration events, and more. These features were useful to fleet managers because they could better identify who their riskiest drivers were. However, this still didn’t give the context needed to proactively correct risky driving behaviors.

“As you can imagine, if you are driving a heavy duty truck and a passenger vehicle merges onto the interstate in front of you and you have to hit the brake hard, if you get dinged in that in your quarterly safety meeting, you’re not going to be thrilled with that because that’s actually great driving and defensive driving.”

dash cam

That’s where artificial intelligence (AI) came in. AI started to add new alert types such as distracted driving and following distance violations. While this was an incremental step forward, it exacerbated some of the existing challenges. For example, if the AI interprets picking up an iced coffee as texting, this will understandably upset your drivers and cause unnecessary friction.

This is why it’s so important to choose the right AI solution.

Are All Fleet Safety AI Created Equal?

The quality of AI ranges dramatically and can have a massive impact on your business. But, how do you determine if an AI is “good?” Let’s break down AI accuracy to answer this question. AI technology’s main job is to automate the video reviewing process. A human is still needed to decide if an alert was truly high-risk.

“When the AI says that the driver was on their phone, what percentage of those alerts was the driver actually on their phone? Events like that, I would really think about it as this accuracy when the camera says that something happened, is that actually what happens when a human reviews it? I think that’s the answer.”

What makes a great system reliable is the quality of the data captured. Having 100 percent of the drive time helps a machine-learning system accurately identify both risky and positive driving behaviors. In addition to having clear, HD quality video and real-time alerts, it’s the quality of the people behind the system that sets different fleet safety technology apart. The best way to determine this is by asking other users what their experience has been and to take advantage of trials offered by dash cam companies.

How AI is Used to Automate Driver Safety Coaching

With AI-powered fleet systems, you are able to collect more than visual data on safe driving. Fleet managers are able to analyze data to proactively put trends in their favor. Being able to see things like hard braking and stop sign compliance helps fleet managers identify the cause of risky driving behavior.

Taking a proactive approach to fleet safety sounds pretty great! But what about all that captured data a fleet manager has to sift through? An AI-powered fleet safety system will categorize driving events for you so you don’t have to sit reviewing for hours on end. This level of automation allows coaching more drivers but still providing high quality feedback more efficiently. In addition, remote and virtual coaching capabilities allows managers to better communicate to their drivers about what safe driving behavior looks like. This form of communication allows for risky driving behaviors to be fixed in the long-term.

How AI Can Actually Improve Driver Privacy

Having accurate AI also benefits the driver’s privacy and autonomy. Having a machine rather than your fleet manager comb through your dash cam video can make drivers feel less monitored. Also, with an AI calculated score that captures both risky and positive driving behavior, a driver has a clear account of how they’re working to improve their skills. This score also shows how well they’re doing. This level of autonomy will ensure drivers are maintaining their safe driving skills in the long run.

truck driver

How AI Cameras are Helping Fleets Cut Operational Costs

AI-powered fleet dash cams have the ability to go beyond fleet safety. By leveraging fleet safety technology, fleet managers are able to influence direct operational costs. Many studies show that aggressive driving burns through your fuel faster.

There are multiple studies that show that aggressive driving, hard braking, speeding, that sort of thing reduces fuel economy by 15 to 30%. I would ask everybody to do, okay, look at what you spend on fuel, just put into a quick Excel sheet, put in 3%, 5% fuel efficiency. What kind of impact would that have on your bottom line, and how does that monetary value compare to the cost of the safety technology?”

Live in-cab audio alerts that help remind drivers to reduce these risky behaviors can help you save on maintenance costs in the long-run. Correcting this behavior in real-time will also break the habit quicker. Also, solutions that reinforce positive behavior can help with driver retention. Replacing drivers can be expensive and trying to fill in those gaps can be time consuming, setting your team back even further. Recognizing your drivers will create a healthy work culture.

Final Thoughts

Dash cams and AI-powered systems have become increasingly important in the operation of commercial fleets. The combination of artificial intelligence and cameras has enabled fleets to have a real-time understanding of their operations, which has proven to be invaluable when it comes to driver safety coaching, driver privacy, and operational cost cutting.

How will you take your fleet safety to the next level? Explore fleet safety solutions today that will help your business protect its drivers and save on operational costs.

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