Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) aren’t a new form of technology, but they are making more of an appearance in trucking, courtesy of Grantville, KS-based TS2.
TS2, like many mobile video-surveillance system makers, has long built DVR technology for a variety of uses-- especially by police departments, which mount the systems in patrol cars as a way to record events from car chases to traffic stops.
Now, the technology is being touted for trucking as a way to give drivers a video record of accidents and other incidents that might occur during their workday to help reduce the cost of accidents.
“The drivers we’ve talked to like this system because it takes the responsibility off of them in terms of accidents,” Jon Hickel, TS2’s vp-sales and marketing, told Fleet Owner. “Many have stories where they’ve lost jobs because they wrongly got a ticket for being at fault in an accident. Now, with this technology, they can have visible proof of what occurred during an accident – a video record to back up their story.”
Hickel said TS2’s system uses four small digital video cameras – two facing forward and two looking rearward, mounted on the truck’s side mirrors – to give a video record of what’s going on all around the truck, not just in front of it.
Digital technology also gives the system far greater recording capacity – up to 5 days worth of storage instead of the hours videotape offers – in a small, compact system that takes up little room within the truck cab.
“The real key for owners is in terms of insurance costs,” he said. “The system is set up to automatically save video of any accidents and incidents, using hard braking and ‘g-force’ sensors to trigger that function. In turn, that information can help significantly reduce claims and settlements, especially if it shows the driver isn’t at fault.”
A study published by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 2002 found that car drivers were at fault 70% of the time in car-truck accidents – meaning that truckers who are involved in accidents with cars have a far greater chance of being exonerated by what a DVR system records than being punished by it, Hickel said. “We thought drivers would be far more concerned about having ‘Big Brother’ in the cab than they actually were,” he said. “Most of the drivers we’ve talked to felt this technology isn’t a negative; rather, it can tell the true story for them.” Though the cost of a DVR system for a truck isn’t cheap – just under $5,000 – Hickel thinks the high cost of insurance that trucking is dealing with today, plus the excessive costs involved with accidents, can provide a convincing return-on-investment argument. “The father of our company’s president, Todd Beemer, ran a truck driver training school for 25 years,” Hickel noted. “One of his friends, a trucking executive, had to settle accident-related litigation for $400,000, even though their driver wasn’t at fault. “That story convinced us that DVR technology might have some big benefits for truckers today.”