The following article is written by Gary Flaherty (pictured), vice president of E&S commercial auto at Nationwide.
For businesses that manage a commercial fleet, navigating exposures and controlling loss can be a challenging endeavor. Whether their fleet consists of one vehicle or 100, businesses that use vehicles as part of their operations have to contend with risks that threaten the safety of their drivers and the productivity of the fleet itself. Distracted driving, fatigued driving, hard braking and similar issues are not only common but can also lead to costly accidents and litigation.
Following an accident, key stakeholders can review dash cam footage to help determine who was at fault. This may sound minor, but determining the cause of an accident is a difficult and time-consuming process even for experienced professionals.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and dash cams can provide a fully documented, unbiased version of a crash or other incident. Without the footage that dash cams provide, fleets would have to rely on conflicting statements from those involved in an accident. Dash cams can eliminate doubt and even help businesses determine whether there were any contributing factors that need to be addressed on an organizational level.
Unsafe driving behavior - such as speeding, following too closely, hard braking, driving distracted or driving fatigued - is a major contributor to on-the-road collisions. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most vehicle accidents can be attributed to unsafe driving behaviors.
Telematics devices can gather lots of useful information on a business’s behalf, including the following:
While telematics provides data regarding unsafe driving, telematics-based dash cams work alongside this technology to show what was happening in the cab or on the road when an issue occurred. This gives fleets a 360-degree view of common driver concerns, allowing them to address employee issues on an individual basis.
For instance, if a telematics system flagged an issue related to hard braking, fleet managers could review dash cam footage to determine whether additional coaching is needed to prevent future concerns.
Simply put, by working with drivers to examine and address driving behaviors, fleet managers can proactively improve their safety culture, hone their employee’s driving skills and prevent accidents.
For existing drivers, dash cams demonstrate that the organization is looking out for their well-being. For new drivers, a fleet dash cam is another tool that can be used for continued education and training, which can help improve employee engagement.
This approach to fostering employee safety is important for a few reasons beyond protecting drivers from accidents. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), trucking companies across the United States face a collective shortage of over 60,000 drivers due to higher freight demands and an aging driver population. The ATA believes this shortage could grow to 160,000 drivers by 2028 if economic and industry conditions don’t improve. Due to this historic shortage, many employees are driving longer hours to make up for lost time, which can lead to driver fatigue and also potential crash and injury concerns.
To fill open positions, companies are broadening the types of candidates they are willing to interview and hire. In many cases, fleets may be forced to bring on drivers who have less experience, minimal training and a short driving history. Together, these factors not only increase the risk of collisions but can also make businesses riskier to insure. Using dash cams can help quell some of these issues related to inexperienced drivers.
While dash cams are powerful tools for monitoring and addressing driver concerns, there are considerations to keep in mind.
First, drivers may feel that the use of fleet dash cam solutions is an invasion of their privacy or a means for their employers to punish them for bad behavior. To alleviate this concern, it’s important for businesses to focus on the benefits of dash cams and their safety implications. For example, dash cams can protect drivers and their families from experiencing all the stress and the fallout that comes with an accident. Some employers even use dash cams to reward good driving behavior and promote a stronger safety culture.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that simply installing a dash cam won’t automatically solve driver issues. Addressing unsafe driving behavior takes ongoing coaching, which is best informed by information gathered through dash cams and telematics. Finally, before installing dash cams, businesses will need to create policies and procedures around their usage.
Above all, dash cams give businesses the tools they need to make safety a priority within their fleet. Still, it’s critical that organizations work alongside a qualified insurance professional who can act as their trusted agent and help them secure a solution that best meets their needs.