In an attempt to keep insurance rate increases down, and possibly avoid cancellation, some trucking companies are implementing policies requiring truckers to use certain safety technology — such as onboard cameras and cellphone call/text blockers.
Onboard video cameras can capture risky driving and crash or road rage footage. Also, the video footage can be used in employee training and the employee review process. Overriding some drivers’ objections to being monitored by dashboard cameras for privacy and other reasons, the trucking companies noted that there are also benefits to such monitoring for the drivers. Video dashboard monitors can help a driver correct safety-related driving errors.
The cost of insurance is a major financial consideration for trucking companies. In 2016, the commercial auto insurance industry lost an estimated $716 million on policies. In turn, insurers increased premiums. Making matters worse, some trucking companies have begun to hire younger drivers due to shortages of more experienced drivers. Drivers with less experience are more difficult and expensive to insure. Onboard technology may enable companies to develop security records based on data that can help keep insurance premiums down.
The impetus for requiring safety technology is the potential for safety performance data to stem insurance premium increases. American Central Transport (ACT), began implementing a dash cam data system in its fleet in 2014. ACT uses Lytx, Inc.’s DriveCam system in its fleet. Lytx reports that 400,000 vehicles used this dash cam program in 2016.
The DriveCam system tracks speed and reckless driving as well as distracted driving. After the system was installed and monitoring commenced in ACT’s fleet, the data were analyzed. DriveCam captured truck drivers texting, eating, reading maps and other activities while driving.
In response, ACT instituted a safety program. One major issue addressed by the program was the use of handheld devices while driving, including cell phones and GPS units. ACT used the data to change its policy addressing handheld device violations. Drivers given a handheld violation captured on the DriveCam system must meet with management, and a second violation within six months results in termination of employment or the driver’s contract.
In addition to improving safety, trucking companies may increase compliance and decrease violations in the Unsafe Driving BASIC of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. ACT reports that its CSA scores have steadily improved since it began using the DriveCam program.