Are Commercial Truck Cameras Making Roads Safer?
Dallas, 04/13/2017 /SubmitPressRelease123/
The preliminary 2015 fatal truck accident report released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in November 2016 showed an eight percent increase in deaths from 2014 to 2015. It is no surprise, therefore, that the FMCSA is seeking measures that can help lower truck wrecks, which is why truck cameras have become a flashpoint in the commercial trucking industry.
“What you’re seeing is that the government and truck carriers are trying to find a happy medium when it comes to the implementation of technology in the cab of commercial trucks,” stated Truck accident attorney Amy Witherite of Eberstein Witherite, LLP. “So the debate over the effectiveness of in-cab video cameras to monitor drivers and to record accidents is growing more urgent as the rate of fatal truck wrecks continues to rise.”
Industry Resistance Against Cameras
Although quite a few truck carriers have installed in-cab video cameras in their fleets, many of these cameras are what are known as “forward facing.”
Forward facing cameras record footage that a truck driver would see, helping to establish fault in the event that there is an accident involving the truck.
However, truck safety experts believe that driver-facing cameras are necessary to record the behavior of truck drivers before, during and after a wreck.
But as Mike Nalepka points out in an article on the Fleet Owner website, “90% of drivers said they would not sign with a carrier with a driver-facing camera.”
That’s because many carriers believe that 80% of accidents involving commercial trucks are not the fault of the truck driver.
In addition, the article points out that a majority of commercial drivers who were polled for the story believe that rear-facing in-cab cameras are an invasion of privacy.
But this not a universally shared view, as some carriers believe that dual-cameras (ones that face forward and toward the driver) are helping to improve road safety.
Per an article on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website, officials at Paper Transport Inc, a truck carrier based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, laud the use of dual cameras.
“Our safety record has been better…” stated Jeff Schefchik, President of the company.
Dan Mills, Safety Director at Millis Transfer Inc., a tractor company with headquarters in Black River Falls, Wisconsin said that dual cameras have provided valuable information related to driver behavior and the behavior of other cars on the road.
NFI Industries – which is based in New Jersey – has lowered its truck accident rates by 50 percent since it installed dual cameras in all its vehicles. The company also cut its insurance rates by as much as 30 percent, according to Craig Bollinger, Senior Vice President of Risk Management.
And the counter to the argument that rear-facing cameras “spy” on truck drivers all day is the fact that there are cameras on the market now that only record footage when some sudden event occurs such as “hard braking, rapid acceleration or swerving from side to side.”
The cameras would not record during a routine driving day, preserving the privacy of drivers who resent the idea that they are being watched all the time.
But during events, which contribute to truck wrecks, truck owners and truck safety directors would be able to watch footage to gauge driver performance in the moments before, during and after a sudden event.
And it’s in these teachable moments that truck cameras can make the biggest difference, according to Del Lisk, Vice President of Safety Services for Lytx, one of the largest manufacturers of cameras for commercial vehicles.
“It’s not just sticking a camera in the vehicle,” Lisk stated in an interview with Trucking News Online. “That isn’t going to do a lot to move the needle in terms of safety.”
Lisk believes that the event recording his company provides is best used to train commercial drivers after they are involved in an incident in which their behavior contributed to an accident, or to some type of occurrence on the road.
Bill Graves, the President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, one of the largest member trucking organizations in the country, agrees with this assessment.
“Driver monitoring systems hold great promise for mitigating the remaining preventable crashes,” which are accidents Graves refers to as being caused by commercial truck drivers.
For the time being, truck cameras are strictly a volunteer safety measure, but as the FMCSA showed when it instituted mandatory use of electronic logging for hours-of-use reports, regulations can change based on the increasing rate of truck wrecks.
In other words, stay tuned.
At 1-800-TRUCK-WRECK, we are committed to helping anyone living in major Texas cities such as Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, El Paso, Katy and Houston keep their lives running after a truck accident.
Call us today for a free consultation, and find out how we can help you get back on your feet.
Eberstein & Witherite, LLP
Email: [email protected]
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