Don’t you hate it when you’re minding your own business, singing John Denver at the top of your lungs, and your manager from work pops his head in to see how you’re doing? If that awkward situation doesn’t seem very likely, you’re probably not a trucker weighing the pros and cons of driver-facing dash cams.
While the watchful eye of supervisors at work helps ensure efficiency and keep employees safe, dash cams in trucks are often being pointed not only at the road, but at the driver’s seat as well. Because truck cabs are often personal and intimate spaces for drivers, where they eat, sleep, and even use the bathroom, driver-facing recording devices can start to feel like an invasion of privacy. As the benefits of dash cams make them increasingly popular among fleet managers, trucking companies, and even drivers, it is important to understand how they work and why many truckers have serious concerns about them.
How Do Dash Cams Work?
Video systems installed in trucks and other commercial vehicles integrate with other safety systems to monitor and record driving. Safety irregularities or alerts, such as stability control or collision avoidance, prompt the video system to save the video feed from a few seconds before to a few seconds after the incident. Companies adamantly promise that apart from those few seconds, no other part of the video stream is saved, protecting the privacy of drivers.
What Are the Concerns?
The idea of a camera pointed directly at the driver’s seat does not sit well with those who are concerned about protecting privacy in a cab that may also be a trucker’s home for much of the time on the road. Many drivers don’t seem to be convinced of the claim (made by almost all companies offering the service) that the video stream will not be automatically saved unless activated by safety triggers. They worry, despite the assurances of executives to the contrary, that they could be under supervision at all times and subject to invasive micromanaging or embarrassment.
Truckers may also worry that captured video could be misinterpreted, or even manipulated, to put full blame on drivers for incidents. Other truckers are concerned that the recording can be too easily triggered – by the likes of potholes or other minor bumps or turns – and that the blinking light of an activated camera can itself dangerously distract from or add stress to already precarious situations.
So What Now?
The clear advantages of forward-facing and driver-facing dash cams, for both business and drivers, means they are here to stay; we’ve detailed those benefits in a previous blogpost. Hundreds of thousands of trucks have already been equipped with forward-facing and driver-facing dash cams and it would be no surprise if they soon become mandatory in all commercial vehicles. If dash cams are inevitable, it will be essential for companies to have open and honest conversations about the undeniable benefits – and understandable concerns – that recording devices bring.
For fleet managers, it will be important to demonstrate the benefits of dash cams to drivers, offer clear assurances that privacy will not be violated, and implement your roll-out methodically and in cooperation with drivers. For concerned drivers, research the exact features of the system being installed and clearly communicate any questions or issues so they can be answered or resolved. Dash cams are not just the technology of the future, but of the present, so it’s important to prepare for that reality now.
What do you think about dash cams? Let us know in the comments below!