Although I currently do not run a dash cam in my truck, I have given some thought to the idea.  Luckily, in the minor incidents I have had, the other people involved admitted to being the cause.  With all of the hoopla over dash cams and they’re being considered by some to be an invasion of privacy, I couldn’t help but wonder if this device could be better viewed as a helpful business tool. 
 
When it comes down to it, the two most common units I see for purchase are the forward facing one-way and the two-way, with forward and driver views.  I could see where some might consider a camera facing the driver to be walking a fine line with one’s privacy.  I can also see where it would help identify problems, such as identifying a driver’s bad habits of texting while driving.  This realization came to me in my most recent quarterly safety meeting, as I watched an Arizona truck driver plow over two state troopers and a downed motorist while the cam captured him web surfing on his phone.  He had attempted to cover the camera with his wallet, but only partially did so, exposing the true cause of this deadly accident from the camera’s remaining view.  A warning prior to watching that this video is pretty sobering!
 


The units I have looked at, will look at again at GATS, and have considered operating myself are the ones with forward facing view.  The unit runs on a loop and sets a recording just prior to and just after an event.  This is the type I think serves as a great business tool to a single-truck owner-operator like myself.  I know who is behind the wheel of my truck and what “he” is doing while driving it.  Watching out for “the other guy” is my main concern and can prove to be invaluable in the event that an accident does occur.  We truckers know from years of driving that we are often suspected at the scene for being at fault and that the popular feeling out there from the general motoring public is that they are the ones that truly know how to drive, not us.  A dash cam can help identify the professional driver as just that in the event of an accident, a true professional!  A device that can cost hundreds of dollars may end up saving you multiple thousands in the end, like it did for the driver in this YouTube video.
 

 


I was able to meet with a manufacturer of one brand of these fine pieces of technology at the BevOps Summit Conference this year in Las Vegas this year and was blown away by the amount of work they had put into the development of this technology for the trucking professional.  I hope to see them again at GATS and pick their brain a little more on what has changed since dash cams have been going more “mainstream” in the media.  An investment with a possible return this high seems like a pretty important tool in one’s arsenal.  If you have had any experience with this trucking technology, good or bad, I would love to hear from you in the comments section below!

 

Comments (3)

Jimmy Nevarez

Jimmy Nevarez is the Owner/President of Angus Transportation, Inc., based in Chino, California.  Jimmy pulls a 53' dry van hauling general dry freight for his own small fleet, operating on its own authority throughout all of Southern California and Southern Nevada.

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I think it would be a great idea to have the camera in the truck especially if you are in a rear end collision. But I have to thank freightliner for having on guard install on the Cascadia it prevents a lot of potential accidents . plus force the driver to practice safe driving like he or she did when they first started driving a truck.

July 27, 2014 22:30:19 PM

That is a good opinion in the case of the coffee as a distracted driving scenario. I know they would press the issue that the decrease in reaction time to set down the coffee might have been enough that had you not had the coffee, you might have been able to stop safely. I like the insight on this and didn't put too much thought into the side view application, which I will now include in my consideration in different models. This seems like a helpful tool in blind spot incidents, etc. Thanks for sharing!

July 27, 2014 21:08:19 PM

Jimmy, I'm of mixed opinion of dash cams. I can definitely see the advantages of having a good system installed. In my opinion a system that captures forward view as well as left/right looking down the sides of the truck to the rear would be the optimum system. Our safety dept has been pressuring to install the cheaper forward and cab view systems. They were installing the forward view only systems with lane departure and I was witness to some good drivers being chastised for unsignaled lane departure incidents that the cam captured. I was witness in one event where I was following another one of our trucks on I-95 near Bridgeport, Ct when a car drifted out of his lane and almost under his trailer, catching this in his side mirror, he reacted quickly and swerved to the shoulder to avoid the sideswipe. The next day he called me to ask if I could call the safety dept and explain what happened as he was being questioned about his "dangerous" driving behaviour that the cam had captured. Safety dropped the issue after I explained what happened. So for me, company installed cams are a double edges sword. I can definitively see the advantages of a personally owned system tho.
As a side note, our company recently put out the quarterly newspaper and one article listed what the RCMP defines distracted driving. Among the usual, cell phone, texting, ect.., were "eating, drinking, smoking, grooming" (consider this notifications and a warning by the safety dept). In a 'what if' situation such as, you're driving down the highway and take a sip of your coffee and you see an incident begin to unfold quickly ahead of you between two other vehicles, you set your coffee down and begin to take action to avoid the accident. Fortunately you avoid a major collision, but end up riding a guard rail or do some other damage to your truck. There is the possibility that you could be found for distracted driving and you know that a sly lawyer will exploit that for all it's worth even though you were not the initial cause of the accident. I think I'd rather have plausible deniability on my side when it comes to what's going on in the cab.

July 27, 2014 11:23:09 AM