According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 4,136 people died in truck-related crashes in 2018. That number alone justifies implementing technology that can make U.S. roadways safer for everyone.
In recent years, multiple companies have developed sophisticated systems that monitor truck driver actions and the road around trucks. While these systems have been shown to reduce a truck driver’s chances of causing a deadly truck crash, not all truckers and trucking companies are on board with implementing the technology. This is especially true of one aspect of the systems, which involves installing truck driver cab cameras (also called driver-facing cameras).
Driver-Facing Cameras and In-Cab Technology
Companies including Seeing Machines, Netradyne, SmartDrive, Lytx, Trimble, and Rear View Safety use in-cab machine vision (computers that can “see”) and artificial intelligence to monitor truck drivers for fatigue and distraction.
These technologies use data that’s been gathered on fatigue-related behaviors to analyze eye movement, gaze patterns, yawning, head position, and body movements. By monitoring all these factors, the systems can detect signs of decreased attention and drowsiness. If a driver appears fatigued or distracted, the programs can alert the driver with a sound or using vibration. The systems can also notify analysts and fleet managers about incidents of distraction and fatigue.
The goal of this technology is to watch for anything that might take the driver’s attention from the road. Based on an alert from the system, the driver has the option to remove distractions or stop and take a rest. Many companies say they would stand by their drivers’ right to decide on how to respond to an alert.
One trucking company, Bison Transport, reported the following safety improvements after implementing a Seeing Machines system:
- 67% reduction in fatigued driving
- 40% reduction in distracted driving
- 97% reduction in cell phone use
Other studies have found similar decreases in potentially dangerous driver activity after implementing systems that use truck driver cab cameras.
Why Some Companies Push Back Against In-Cab Technology
So, if in-cab, driver-facing cameras can help keep truck drivers and the other drivers around them safe, why are companies hesitating to use the technology?
The answer often comes down to drivers’ perception of privacy. With many sectors of the trucking industry reporting a trucker shortage in recent years, companies are highly focused on driver recruitment and retention. Companies say driver-facing cameras not only represent a significant monetary investment but may also make drivers feel micro-managed and vulnerable. If these issues discourage more people from driving trucks, the companies say, it could make the truck driver shortage even worse.
Some companies also argue that road-facing cameras installed in the front, rear, and sides of the truck can provide enough information without compromising drivers’ privacy. However, these road-facing cameras have no way to detect fatigue or distraction.
Driver-facing cameras and other monitoring technology can offer direct benefits to drivers. For example, the cameras have been used to clear truck drivers of blame and liability in instances where a crash occurred and the trucker was not at fault.
Safety Is the Bottom Line
We understand that some trucking companies and drivers are hesitant to invest in technology that could complicate driver recruitment and retention. However, the numbers make it clear that in-cab, driver-facing cameras and accompanying alert systems can greatly increase truck drivers’ attention to the road. These products can also protect truck drivers in cases where the driver of another vehicle causes a wreck.
Safety should always the most important concern for the trucking industry. If a trucking company truly wants to protect their drivers and the public, they will work to implement the best safety systems available.
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Van Tighem, G. (2019, December 15). In-Cab Monitoring Uses Machine Vision to Detect Fatigued, Distracted Driving. Transport Topics. Retrieved from https://www.ttnews.com/articles/cab-monitoring-uses-machine-vision-detect-fatigued-distracted-driving
Long, M. (2019, December 6). Some Fleets Reluctant to Add Driver-Facing Cameras. Transport Topics. Retrieved from https://www.ttnews.com/articles/cab-monitoring-uses-machine-vision-detect-fatigued-distracted-driving
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (2019, December). Fatality facts 2018: Large trucks. Arlington, VA: Author. Retrieved from https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/large-trucks
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.