National statistics from the Department for Transport have revealed that annually, thousands of people are killed or severely injured in road traffic accidents. Dashboard cameras can be an extremely useful addition in these situations, across all vehicle types, as they record important footage, for example in a road accident where fault needs to be determined.
Whilst dash cameras are valuable additions to standard vehicles, they’re even more valuable when it comes to commercial vehicles like HGVs. Safety is paramount, and since you’re driving a vehicle that’s likely to be larger than other vehicles on the road, not only do you have to keep your eyes peeled for your own safety but other road users’ too. Having a dash camera installed can give you the peace of mind that it’s not only you that’s keeping a record of what happens when you’re out on the road.
Verizon surveyed over 400 fleet managers operating fleets of 3 to 500 vehicles in the UK in 2020, and 88% use dash cameras. In this article, with the help of Bryn Brooker, Head of Marketing at Nextbase (global market leader for in-car technology), we’ll discuss these benefits to help commercial fleets understand why they should consider installing commercial dash cameras in their HGVs.
Dash cameras, also known as dashcams, are camera systems mounted on the dashboard or windscreen of your vehicle (you can also have a rear dashcam). Whilst vehicle mirrors help drivers when they’re on the road, cameras can offer that extra peace of mind. Bryn told us that dash cams are much more than just a camera:
“How I imagine it, is that when you get in your vehicle, you’ve got somebody sat next to you as an independent witness.”
Dash cameras work differently to traditional cameras and camcorders – the main point of difference is that there is a G-force detector in dashcams. Bryn described to us exactly how dash cameras operate:
“… the camera is recording all the time on the SD card. When it gets to the end of the SD card, it doesn’t stop, it will go back to the start and carry on again.”
The way that dashcams record is also different to traditional cameras, as instead of recording one large file, they will generally do a one-minute file, then another one-minute file. These are blended together which means you won’t notice these gaps. Bryn told us why this method of recording is so useful when it comes to road accidents:
“…if your dashcam is involved in a crash, and there is a bump or knock, there’s a G-force that’s detected which knows it has been hit… it will take those files, put them in a different folder and then carry on. So, if you had a little knock or bump at the start of a drive, and then you decided to carry on and drive for another 6 weeks, there will still be a record of that knock saved away. It wouldn’t get overwritten.”
Dash cameras are incredibly easy to use. With most, you can install it yourself by simply plugging it into the cigarette lighter, mounting it on your windscreen and then running the cable round. Once you’ve done that, you won’t need to touch it. When your driver gets into their HGV, the dash camera will turn itself on, and when they get out, it’ll shut itself down.
In short – yes. Not only can commercial dash cameras (such as the Nextbase 380GW*) provide you with footage of an incident that occurs whilst driving, but it’ll also show anything that happens to your vehicles whilst your drivers are away from their vehicle. For example, if your driver is involved in a road collision and the other driver then flees, dashcam footage will show who is at fault for the incidents. Bryn emphasises the importance of video footage in these situations:
“Having that critical video evidence is crucial… you can show exactly what has happened. And dashcam footage is accepted by insurers and the police for use in court, so it makes it very easy.”
Bryn believes proving fault is essential, especially in careers where driving is involved, and so the use of dashcams becomes even more important:
“For a driver that is relying on driving as their job and their main income, that’s where a dashcam can save your livelihood.”
With the above in mind, it’s clear that drivers will benefit from having an HGV dashcam in their vehicle, should they ever need backing in a legal matter or court case.
If one of your drivers is involved in a road accident and they aren’t at fault, video evidence is an invaluable tool when it comes to proving their innocence and protecting their licence. Without the presence of a dashcam, often transport and logistics companies can face an uphill battle to prove that their driver is innocent.
And where dangerous driving is involved, aside from proving fault, Bryn believes there’s a greater benefit to society that also comes with dashcams:
“… if somebody is hit by a dangerous driver, not only is it good for proving that they weren’t at fault, but they can also provide that footage to the police and then that dangerous driver is taken off the roads and the whole of society gains. Everyone wins.”
Insurance claims are not processed in a timely manner at the best of times. But dashcams have the potential to transform the way insurance claims work in the transport and logistics industry. With clear video evidence, insurance suppliers will have more to go off, and therefore this could lead to a quicker resolution when it comes to claims. Since Bryn and the team at Nextbase have had many discussions with insurers in the past, they have first-hand knowledge of the delays associated with insurance claims:
“The delay really is working out who is at fault and then also who pays for it… and that’s what takes time. But if you’re arming your insurer with video evidence, then that battle is won instantly. Typically, we’ve seen claims go from a 6-month claim to a 6-day claim.”
With the presence of a dashcam, a speedy insurance claim process will mean you can concentrate on more important aspects relating to your fleet and business generally.
According to the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), every four minutes an insurance claim is connected to a suspected ‘crash for cash’ ploy in the UK. For commercial fleets, not only does this increase insurance premiums, but it also impacts vehicle downtime, repair costs, driver safety and business reputation. This is a common insurance scam where fraudsters devise or deliberately cause road traffic accidents in a bid to fraudulently gain financial compensation – normally it involves a driver slamming on the brakes suddenly or unnecessarily. However, with a dash camera, ‘crash-for-cash’ scams can be prevented since you’ll be able to clearly see if there actually was any need to slam on the brakes.
One of the biggest issues linked with ‘crash-for-cash’ incidents is that it unfairly increases insurance premiums for drivers who aren’t at fault. Fortunately, the insurance industry is beginning to recognise that dashcams can help resolve this problem and therefore having dashcams in your HGVs could reduce insurance premiums. Of course, it’s important to remember that this will vary across insurers. But even if your insurance provider doesn’t offer any discount for dashcam footage, there’s still a silver living as explained by Bryn:
“At the bare minimum, even if your insurer doesn’t accept any discount for dashcam footage, by having the footage you’re going to protect your no claims bonus by not having to make a claim. You’re saving money because you’re keeping your no claims discount intact.”
Similar to telematics systems, where vehicle movement can be monitored, a dash camera can also record driver behaviour. When drivers know they may be being watched, they’re more likely to be on their best behaviour. To be clear, the vast majority of professional drivers are just that – highly professional. But there are those who take less care. The presence of a dashcam may encourage drivers to remain alert behind the wheel and take greater care of your vehicles. You can see whether your drivers are taking the right and best routes or idling unnecessarily or making unnecessary stops. Bryn is a big supporter of the notion that dash cameras improve driver behaviour:
“…now 1 in 5 people use dashcams in the UK. They are now known in society as something that people are more aware of. Because of this knowledge, if they do something stupid, the chances are that they’re going to get caught and I think that makes people think twice.”
Again, like vehicle tracking systems, dash cameras can help promote safer driving amongst your fleet. Plus, the footage can also be an invaluable learning tool when it comes to driver training as it provides drivers with physical insights into possible incidents. Using dashcam footage, trainee drivers can learn what to do in different situations and scenarios without putting the vehicle or other road users in danger. However, even if you’ve given your drivers extensive training on safe driving, there’s always the possibility of dangerous driving behind the wheel. As well as this, it can also have a detrimental impact on fuel economy, costing your business more money in the long run. However, if you use dash cameras to monitor drivers, it’s more likely that they’ll make a conscious effort to always drive safely and carefully.
Dashcams are packed with plenty of useful features, and it will differ across brands, but here are a few examples of features consumers may not be aware of:
“a standout feature of Nextbase dashcams that you may not find on others is emergency SOS… should the worst happen, and you have a crash, let’s say in the middle of a country road and you hit a tree and you’re unconscious, the dashcam recognises that there has been a crash. There are 24 checks that both the dashcam and your connected smartphone make at that point and then it’s able to call the emergency services on your behalf who are then given data on where you are… so as well as saving money and proving you aren’t at fault; it can also save your life.”
There are clearly many benefits to installing dashcams in commercial fleets, and few downsides. They can help to prove fault in a road accident, reduce the time it takes to process an insurance claim and potentially help improve driver behaviour. More importantly, dash cameras have a role to play in making our roads safer in the future. Dangerous road users can be caught, new HGV drivers can be efficiently trained, and a reduction in fraudulent claims could bring premiums down for all road users.
If you’d like to talk to us more about your fleet and how we can help, call us on 0808 178 9977 or chat to one of our agents right now. Or if you’d like to speak to Nextbase more about their dashcams, contact them today and they will be more than happy to help with your enquiry.
*The Nextbase 380GW model has been specifically designed for HGVs and therefore is best suited for commercial fleets. This dash cam model has been designed with a vertical windscreen in mind and it also doesn’t have a screen – these features have been purposefully included so HGV drivers can focus on the job.