Over the years, I’ve had different dashcams in my truck to reduce my exposure to liability claims from the myriad of trial lawyers who have been using the trucking industry as a cash cow. On the side of the highways everywhere, there seem to be billboards advertising for people to contact trial lawyers if they are involved in a crash with a big truck.
Recently, I received a marketing phone call from my Electronic Log Device provider, Motive, offering a deal on their dashcam which is integrated into the current system that I use with them. The model I purchased has artificial intelligence which provides driver coaching in situations deemed unsafe, or risky.
The dashcam arrived at my home well-packaged and I found the installation to be extremely easy. In reality, the most time-consuming part of this installation was tucking away its power cable after attaching the camera with its adhesive backing to the inside of the windshield.
As I started using the system, with artificial intelligence that detects risky driving behaviors, I was surprised to get a couple of warnings for following too close. Of course, my first reaction was “What does this system know? Everyone else was closer than I was?”. Then, after reviewing the footage, I must say, everyone else was, in fact, following closer than I was. However, I determined that the system was correct. It appears that if someone turns in front of me, or if I get too close to someone for more than ten seconds, it sends me a “coachable event”.
A recorded “coachable event” includes the video footage of that moment for me, as the driver, to review. I made the determination to take this as a challenge to operate my truck with the goal of never getting what the camera system determines to be a “coachable event”. The model I got has a dual-facing camera. The dashcam covers the road, the driver, and the surroundings of the driver in almost a 360-degree view. From what I have read about this system, it is my understanding that the camera can detect whether you are wearing your seatbelt, using your cell phone, or driving in an inattentive fashion.
One early morning, as I was driving down a barren stretch of I-35 without any vehicles around me, I found myself observing a mesmerizingly beautiful sunrise. Guess what! The system was able to pick up on my staring at the beautiful sunrise and sent me a “coachable event”. I was determined that I would not allow this to happen again.
In heavy traffic, it seems as though every time I increase my following distance, another vehicle darts in front of me to take that margin of safety back away. Over the last few weeks, I had been driving through the Washington D.C. area during peak traffic hours. I was able to maintain enough distance between the front of my Cascadia and other vehicles to not trigger a “coachable event”.
It’s easy for a person to drop their guard when driving down a barren stretch of highway, or to get lured into following too close in heavy congestion. My goal now is to use this system to not only protect myself from liability, but also use it to keep my defensive driving skills honed and vigilant.
A thought that crossed my mind then was, “I wonder how much better all drivers would be operating their vehicles if they had such a system to be recording their driving behavior and etiquette?”.
I remember a saying that was drilled into my head from the employer for whom I first drove a truck. “Always drive like somebody is watching you.” From my dashcam now, there are two people that can watch and review my driving. One of them is me. The other person is my wife, who is also my Safety Department Administrator. So, not only do I need to drive safely for the sake of reducing my exposure to liability, but also for my own self-satisfaction of doing my job to the best of my ability and making it back home.
I’ll end this with another good piece of advice. Drive like your children are sitting in the backseat of the vehicle ahead of you.
Motive AI Dashcam: https://gomotive.com/products/dashcam/