Even though dashboard cameras have managed to capture some amusing and amazing traffic incidents around the world, they can be an incredibly useful addition to any form of transport, especially fleets of commercial vehicles. In fact, safety and security solutions provider Cobra UK has asked the government to legislate for front-facing cameras in order to protect the freight industry from ‘crash-for-cash’ incidents.
These fraudulent claims cost the insurance industry £392 million in 2012, as 69,500 personal injury cases were reported. Not only does this increase insurance premiums, it also impacts on vehicle downtime, repair costs, driver safety and a business’ reputation.
But even if the UK government doesn’t introduce appropriate rules and regulations, here are some reasons why you should be installing dash cameras on your fleet of vehicles anyway.
1. Protect against crash-for-cash scams
The main argument for installing a dash cam is to provide protection from crash-for-cash scams, which have unfortunately become more prevalent in recent years. The aim of this fraudulent scheme is to deliberately stage an accident where the driver who is following a vehicle can be blamed for smashing into another. It usually involves a road user slamming on the brakes suddenly or unnecessarily.
But with a forward-facing camera, this problem can be eliminated, as you’ll clearly be able to see whether there was a need to slam on the brakes or not.
There has already been quite a high profile case of a commercial vehicle’s dashboard camera thwarting a crash-for-cash scam. In the video below, you can clearly see a car slowing down on a dual carriageway for no reason.
When the driver takes action, he is hit from behind and collides into the guilty party. The fraudulent driver was found to be at fault and the total cost saving came in at an estimated £45k!
2. Evidence for road accident insurance claims
Even if there is no suggestion that a traffic incident was just a scheme to make money, a dash cam can help clear up any other accident insurance claims.
Currently, a lot depends on the descriptions and explanations given by the parties involved. Unfortunately, you can never be sure whether the truth is being told and there is every chance the story could be fabricated to avoid prosecution or penalties. Drivers or pedestrians might not remember the incident too well either, leading to inaccurate or unreliable reports.
But with a dashboard camera, the insurance company will be able to view cold hard evidence and come to a fair judgement. As a result, disputes or disagreements are sure to be eliminated.
3. Evidence for parking accident insurance claims
According to the Daily Mail, a fifth of people would drive off if they hit a parked car in their local supermarket car park, especially if nobody had noticed. A separate study by the AA also found that 8 out of 10 drivers have returned to their car only to notice damage from another vehicle.
Although the majority of parking accidents tend to be minor, it can still lead to an insurance claim, which is regrettable for the majority of commercial vehicle fleet managers.
So whether your driver is the victim or perpetrator, a dashboard camera can help clear up these incidents. The position of a front-facing camera might not record the whole incident, but it will probably capture the vehicle or driver involved. It may also be able to identity onlookers who witnessed the accident, who can then provide additional evidence.
4. Faster insurance claims processing
Insurance claims don’t tend to be processed very quickly at the best of times and waiting to hear the final verdict often feels like an overly drawn-out affair. But if you install dash cameras to your fleet of vehicles, the entire process can be sped up.
Instead of collecting and collating written evidence from each and every party involved, your insurance provider can simply look at the incident in question and come to a rational conclusion. For several claims, they might need additional eyewitness reports or extra comment from drivers and pedestrians. But this won’t be required with a dashboard camera.
If an insurance claim doesn’t take as long to process, you can concentrate on more important issues to do with your business and won’t need to worry about the final decision.
5. Reduce insurance premiums
One of the biggest problems associated with crash-for-cash incidents is that it increases insurance premiums for innocent drivers, as the cost of compensation needs to be recovered from somewhere.
Thankfully, the insurance industry is starting to recognise that dashboard cameras can help solve this ongoing problem and is willing to pass on savings to those who install systems in their vehicles. One leading insurer says it will offer customers a 10 per cent discount, which means a saving of £33 a year for the average everyday motorist.
A lot will depend on your insurance company, but if other providers are already willing to give out discounts, then it could soon be commonplace, especially for commercial vehicles.
6. Record driver behaviour behind the wheel
Similar to a telematics system, which can monitor vehicle movement and subsequently reduce overheads, a dashboard camera can also record driver behaviour. Therefore, you’ll be able to see whether drivers are taking the right routes or making any unnecessary stops.
If you install a dual-lens camera that records in-car activity as well, you’ll be able to see whether your drivers are acting in a safe and professional manner. After all, they are the ones who represent the business on a daily basis and come into contact with a great deal of people.
Instances of mobile phone use or road rage will be picked up on camera and you’ll be able to take appropriate action.
7. Promotes safer driving
Again, this reason is comparable with vehicle tracking systems, as dashboard cameras can help promote safer driving throughout your fleet.
Even if you’ve given employees extensive training and provided incentives to encourage safe driving, they could still be erratic or dangerous behind the wheel. Along with increasing the risk of having an accident, this type of behaviour can also have a detrimental impact on fuel economy, costing you more money in the long run.
But by being constantly monitored, drivers will make a conscious effort to drive in a safe and careful manner. The chances of having a collision are reduced and you may never need to call upon the dash cam to provide evidence of an incident.
8. Report dangerous drivers
Driver welfare is bound to be your prime concern, but in many respects you’ve got a duty to protect other road users as well. With a dashboard camera, you’re able to name and shame dangerous drivers that might cause an accident in the future.
From speeding and tailgating to under-taking and talking on mobile phones, various road offences are committed by scores of drivers on a daily basis. But with some evidence on camera, you can report reckless drivers to the appropriate authorities. These individuals can then be prosecuted and won’t pose a threat to your fleet.
If dashboard cameras become even more widespread, then an increasing number of dangerous drivers could be convicted and everybody will benefit as a result.
9. Driver training
When it comes to training new or younger drivers, nothing compares to getting behind the wheel and experiencing life on the road first hand. However, footage from a dashboard camera can be an invaluable learning tool, which will provide in-depth insights into various incidents.
A trainee driver can learn what to do in different situations and scenarios without putting the vehicle or other road users at risk. Experienced drivers can also provide expert tuition and pass on some wisdom while watching the recording.
A dashboard camera may even eliminate the need for other training courses or classes, which can often be an expensive drain on time, money and resources.
There aren’t many reasons why you wouldn’t want to install dash cameras in your fleet of vehicles. Even though they have gained recognition as a tool to help catch crash-for-cash fraudsters, dash cams have several additional advantages too.
From traffic accidents and parking incidents to the time it takes to process a claim and the price of your premium, nearly every aspect of commercial vehicle insurance becomes more manageable and cheaper. However, driver behaviour will also improve, as they are less likely to be dangerous or reckless behind the wheel.
On top of all that, dashboard cameras give everyone hope for the future. Unsafe road users will be caught, new drivers can be comprehensively trained and the insurance industry won’t have to deal with deceptive and deceiving criminals.
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