In-Cab Cameras are out of sight, always in mind
Article from www,truckinginfo.com
Something about the Ford SuperDuty didn’t seem quite right when it pulled up in the turn lane next to Arnold Transport’s tractor-trailer. Maybe it was the slow, deliberate way it eased up next to the big rig waiting at the traffic light. Maybe it was the fact that the four-wheeler was just a tad closer than normal. But the driver couldn’t ponder the situation much longer; the light turned green and both vehicles started forward. As the truck entered the turn, the SuperDuty slowly continued over into the big rig’s lane until it casually — almost gently — brushed against the front left fender, a slow-motion side-swipe accident.
Immediately both vehicles pulled over. Before the Arnold driver was down from the cab, the lady driving the Super Duty was out in the street, holding her neck, moaning in pain, and complaining loudly that the big truck had run into her.
The Arnold driver said nothing. The woman from the SuperDuty rubbed her neck for another minute or so, then ran across the road to make a quick telephone call. That done, she ran back to the accident scene and went back to rubbing her neck, moaning and telling everyone in earshot that the big truck had just run into her.
The Arnold driver jerked his thumb toward the cab of his truck. “That’s a forward-facing camera on the dash right there,” he said.
The woman stopped rubbing her neck, stared at him for a second, then whirled, jumped back in her truck and sped away from the accident scene.
That isn’t the only recent incident where cameras have come to the rescue for Arnold. In another accident, a truck was side-swiped by a passenger car as it rolled through a traffic light. The car driver and three witnesses told police on the scene that the truck had run the red light. But when the video was reviewed, it showed indisputably that the passenger car was the one that ran the light and caused the accident.
For Eric Nelson, vice president, safety and recruiting for Arnold, a regional dry van fleet running out of Grand Prairie, Texas, those incidents, and others like it, are among the primary reason his fleet decided to totally revamp its safety program in 2014.
“We started with the basics,” Nelson says, “and once we had those under control with our numbers headed in the right direction, we knew the next step in elevating that program was going to be a good, in-cab, camera safety system.”
Nelson had done research on such systems a few years earlier, while at another fleet. At that time, he felt they were too basic in terms of functionality to meet his requirements. But he’d been watching their development closely and felt the time was right to give them a try, and the fleet put SmartDrive in-cab camera systems on every single truck.
“A camera speaks the truth,” he says now. “So there’s no arguing with the evidence. That can help us avoid fraudulent claims, or let us save time and money settling cases where we are to blame.”
But, Nelson adds, the power of in-cab camera systems has grown exponentially in just a few short years and can do much more than determine fault. Today they not only can capture video footage of events, but also record details such as vehicle speed and motion and specific driver actions at the time of an incident.
“We’d worked hard to put a safety culture in place,” Nelson says. “But as anybody in my position knows, once the trucks are gone, it’s very much an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ kind of thing. And we wanted to know what was going on.”
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