Three key takeaways:
- Dash cameras in fleet management are designed to promote safer driving, but they may have the opposite effect
- In-vehicle monitoring can create a problematic environment in which drivers believe they’re mistrusted by management
- Rewarding safe driving while using tools such as Contextual Mobility Management (CMM) can make for more positive, effective policy
Dash cameras in fleet management are nothing. They help freight companies and other businesses that employ drivers to achieve a wide variety of goals, including rewarding good driving behavior, promoting a strong safety culture and protecting against fraudulent claims.
Yet even as photo and video technology has become more prevalent in our daily lives – built into our smartphones, security systems and more – there are practical and psychological factors associated with the use of surveillance tech that companies should understand. Dash cams come with their own potential side effects.
First, although it might seem that monitoring drivers would promote a safer driving environment, it’s important to remember that dash cams don’t actually prevent accidents. The technology is reactive. In-vehicle monitoring can only help managers correct behaviors after an incident occurs – and they have no control over other drivers or conditions on the road. Even behaviors that dash cams are designed to address are sometimes unaffected by their presence. Distracted driving temptations, such as mobile device usage, aren’t necessarily curbed by dash cams – they’re documented to create a chain of evidence after the fact in the event of an accident and to provide additional coaching to employees. The only sure-fire way to stop distracted driving is to eliminate the distractions before they occur.
Additionally, in-vehicle cameras may be perceived as invasive. On the extreme end, a class-action lawsuit was filed against dash cam company Samsara after it was alleged to have used facial recognition technology to capture biometric information from freight drivers without their consent. Litigation aside, there’s strong evidence that suggests drivers consider dash cams to be an imposition. A recent survey from Truckers News asked readers “How do you feel about inward-facing cameras?” More than 90 percent of respondents had a negative reaction to the question, including:
- 68 percent who agreed that “I would never give up my privacy like that”
- 24 percent who agreed that “I’ll tolerate them, but I don’t like them”
The main issue: dash cams can lead to a culture of mistrust. The best drivers are diligent and engaged, which is precisely why they may resent the idea of being watched. They prefer to be given the autonomy to complete their jobs and the trust to do it the right way. Dash cams can even have the opposite of their intended effect, leading to a driver who feels constantly monitored becoming disengaged. Does it make sense for a company to risk losing its best employees or degrading their performance in order to keep tabs on the others?
Some companies surely feel they have no alternative, but that’s not the case. Distracted driving accidents caused by mobile device use are highly preventable. Fleet management policies should be proactive and directed in a way that reduces risks before they present themselves. Measures like contextual mobility management (CMM), which can reduce or remove mobile device distractions behind the wheel altogether, can help businesses enforce mobile device policies and prevent risks before they occur.
Dash cam monitoring may have uses within certain contexts, but companies that employ them have to reckon with their drawbacks. A more pointed approach: Reward safe driving milestones and empower appropriate mobile device usage while taking measures (such as CMM and other tools) to reduce distractions. Be sure to incorporate privacy policies into your fleet management and listen to your drivers. More trust, better tools and less intrusion make for a better work environment – one that attracts the best drivers and puts them in a position to thrive.