20th October 2020

Dashcams: Why use them, and what are the benefits to fleet operators

Do you use dashboard camera systems in your HGV fleet? Dashcams are becoming increasingly common in the haulage industry, and this article will explain the benefits of truck dashcams, helping you to decide whether you should be using them.

Commercial HGVs are not legally required to use dashcams, but the RHA and Fleet Transport Association encourage fleet operators to utilise the technology. Operators can pick from a wide range of dashcams that can be installed within minutes and deliver high-resolution video recordings – with plenty of positives to assure a return on your investment.

Can I use a dashcam to avoid fraudulent claims? 

HGVs and other commercial vehicles are often the victims in ‘crash for cash’ scams. Fraudsters deliberately cause road traffic accidents to make false or inflated insurance claims. HGVs often get the blame, but fleet dashcams protect your drivers - and your insurance premiums - against these dangerous cons.

Recorded footage from a dashcam serves as undeniable evidence to prove your driver’s innocence on the exact date and time of the incident.

Will I be able to use recorded video as evidence in personal injury claims? 

In some road traffic accident cases, liability (fault) is disputed. Without witnesses, it can be your word against theirs in any compensation claims. Using a dashboard camera system in your trucks helps to prove who was at fault – especially if the other driver is pleading their innocence. 

Does a dashboard camera give me cheaper insurance rates?

Fleet insurance can be expensive and eat into profits. Finding ways to reduce your premium will always be a bonus. All leading motor insurers accept dashcam footage as evidence in the event of a claim and many insurers are offering discounts of up to 20% for installing a commercial truck dash camera system – saving you a tidy sum. 

Will I be able to improve driver behaviour?

Some drivers argue that using dashcams on company vehicles is a bit ‘Big Brother,’ but it’s a great way to review your driver’s behaviour on the road and protect your driver’s reputation. By seeing any flaws your drivers may have, it can help you to educate and improve their driving abilities.

Wedding a trucker dashcam with an HGV’s telematics system will give you a clear picture of how your drivers are behaving on the road, allowing you to track speed, braking distances and more. 

By monitoring your truck drivers’ performance, you can suggest improved habits - reducing accidents, improving fuel consumption and helping the engines wear and tear. In a recent report, Commercial Motor says that 56 per cent of HGV operators saw improvements in driver behaviour after installing truck dashboard camera systems.  

hgv dash cam

Does the recorded footage help with driver training?

To complement the first-hand, behind-the-wheel driving experience, HGV dashcam footage can be a great teaching aid for new drivers. Show new starters bad driving habits, near misses and accidents you have recorded to train them on how to avoid making similar mistakes when out on the road. 

Dashcam footage from inside an HGV could even replace the need to shell out for third-party classroom training. 

Do dashcams reduce incident rates?

webuyanycar.com conducted a study that found that around 20 per cent of UK motorists use a dashcam every time they drive. Thankfully, this has led to safer driving conditions, with a seven per cent reduction in the number of motor collisions each year. 

Statistics from the Metropolitan Police also indicate a significant drop in traffic offence reports and fixed penalty notices – reducing by 30 per cent. 

Can I use camera footage to reduce incident investigation time?

In the event of an accident, Zurich Global Corporate UK says that “failing to capture third-party information can inflate overall incident costs by 956%.” The best dash cameras for trucks capture licence plate numbers in HD quality, giving your insurer a perfect picture of the liable driver in an accident. 

Using a connected HGV dash cam will give you an advantage over an SD card-based camera because of the instant access to files. You can almost immediately notify your insurer about any accidents with supporting video evidence. 

“The average cost of a claim when reported within two hours is £1,250, compared with over £5,000 when there is a delay,” says Zurich Global Corporate UK.

best dash cam for hgv

Will my dashcam only record the road ahead?

US vehicle accident data shows that only two per cent of accidents are head-on, while 30 per cent are rear-ended impacts. This suggests that it’s highly beneficial to use rear-facing cameras too. Combined front and rear-facing cameras are commonly available to buy and could be invaluable to your fleet.

In addition to road-facing vehicle cameras, popularity for driver-facing cameras has increased in the transport industry. This is so that fleets can prove the driver was paying full attention to the road. Some drivers may see this is an invasion of privacy, so you must make you drivers aware the camera is in place. 

How much will a commercial dashboard camera cost?

Depending on the quality you’re after, you can expect to fork out between £20 and £1,000. Your camera must able to record the road in a clear picture to be used as evidence in the event of an incident, so we recommend spending a bit more to ensure you get a good product.

This is an example of leading dashboard camera, suitable for HGVs. Click here for more information. 

Is there anything else to consider? 

Depending on how many vehicles you have, kitting out your fleet with dashcams can be expensive. It’s also important to remember that dashcam footage can be used against you or your drivers if they are liable for any accidents. 

When installing dashcams in your commercial vehicles, you must remember that it’s illegal to obstruct the driver’s field of vision. The Highway Code states that any obstructions cannot be more than 40mm into the area swept by the windscreen wiper blades. Failure to abide by these rules can lead to fines, and if there is an accident, the evidence from your camera can become inadmissible. 

Before you run to the shop to buy dashcams for all your fleet vehicles, here are a few more things to think about:

Data storage – You will need to decide between two storage options; SD cards or an internet-connected device that uploads to the cloud. An internet device removes the need for manual recovery, but you will need WIFI access. 
Installation – Most users usually elect to mount their dashcam with a suction cup or by using adhesive. You may be given a mounting device when you buy the camera, so the choice is yours.
Image resolution – To ensure that you record in perfect quality, we recommend looking at wide-angle lens cameras or wide dynamic range (WDR) that offer HD quality. 

Josh Cousens | SNAP. 

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