Using Smart Dash Cams to Improve Driver Retention

Fleet operators must do everything they can to attract and retain drivers, especially during the ongoing driver shortage. That does not mean foregoing dash cams, as conventional wisdom might suggest. In fact, using smart dash cam data as a carrot instead of a stick, and showing drivers the safety benefits of fleet telematics, can help organizations retain their best drivers and make them feel more valued.

At the Fleet Safety Experience 2021 conference, panelists in a session on driver care for safer fleets agreed on the power of fleet telematics to transform fleet safety and discussed the impact of video telematics on driver retention as well as ways to facilitate increased acceptance of fleet dash cams and put drivers at the center of a fleet safety program.

Fleet dash cams as driver care

Over the last five years, Marsh Risk Consulting monitored approximately 60 companies that utilized fleet telematics. According to Richard Bleser, senior vice president, the data they gathered points not only to reduced collision rates and claim costs as a result of video telematics but also to significant driver acceptance of fleet dash cams and collision mitigation systems.

“It goes without being said that when you first introduce technology and you put ‘big brother,’ as many of our drivers look at it, into the vehicles, there's a little bit of apprehension on their part,” said Bleser. “But once you engage the solutions, what we're starting to see is the drivers really take a liking to it.And when that technology is not working or isn't available in a specific vehicle, they feel uncomfortable because it really does become a driver care element as we go forward.”

Companies that integrate driver-facing dash cams in addition to forward-facing dash cams are not suffering the consequence they fear most, according to Marsh findings. “Those that implement the driver facing cameras are in fact not losing the drivers or the ability to attract drivers,” said Bleser.

Messaging the benefits of fleet dash cams

Fleet telematics, including video telematics, exists first and foremost to protect drivers, a point companies must make loud and clear.

“We need to better message why these technology implementations benefit the driver,” said Kinana Hussain, vice president of product line management at CalAmp. “Today the messaging becomes a bit ROI-focused and not as driver focused. So that's an area of improvement.”

Some drivers cringe at the idea of audible in-cab alerts that warn them about speeding, lane drift and other potentially risky driving events. These alerts are enabled by advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) including smart dash cams with artificial intelligence. But selling drivers on their value may be as simple as show and tell. 

Michael Renforth, vice president of safety, health and environment for Dickinson Fleet Services, described how a camera-based ADAS system woke up a pickup driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel and helped him avoid a head-on collision at 70 miles per hour. Renforth manages the health and safety of 1,000 service technicians who double as drivers of mobile service vehicles.

“At the very last moment we can see in that camera that they were actually crossing the two-lane highway into the lane of an oncoming tractor trailer,” said Renforth. He added that the benefits of dash cams and how they’ve saved drivers over and over again are themes they include in all of their safety orientations.

The carrot vs. stick: Rewarding safe drivers

Rather than use fleet telematics data as a stick to punish drivers for risky driving behaviors, companies should think in terms of leveraging it as a carrot to reward safe driving.

Constantly hearing corrective actions and negative feedback can put off any driver. “By converting it over and giving them positive feedback on things that they're doing right, it makes all the difference in the world,” said Hussain. “It brings down their guard. It changes the perception on how this technology can actually benefit them not only for their driving with your company, but their future career as well.”

Many fleets are using the wealth of data produced by telematics to reward drivers for safe behavior.

Renforth said drivers at Dickinson Fleet Services who achieve good scores on driver scorecards receive an award through a vendor partnership. The higher the score, the larger the award and the bigger the celebration. As a result, employees have embraced the fleet telematics system as a form of friendly competition.

Reducing collisions with fleet telematics

Getting drivers on board with fleet telematics is essential considering the safety benefits for the driver as well as the  benefits for fleets in risk mitigation, reduction in litigation costs and avoidance of nuclear verdicts.

According to Bleser, companies that have dash cams in their vehicles have a 52% lower collision frequency rate compared with those that don’t. Fleets that install both forward-facing and driver-facing cameras see even better results, with 21% lower collision frequency compared with fleets that use only a forward-facing camera.

When fleet vehicles are equipped with ADAS, companies see their collision rates drop even more. The average cost per claim also plummets, from $18,000 for fleets without ADAS to a low of $3,000 for a fully implemented ADAS fleet.

In many cases, safety technology has allowed fleet managers to avoid claims altogether and prove that drivers were not at fault. Bleser’s data shows that in fleets with dash cams installed, 50% fewer accident claims go to litigation, and average awards are $2,000 lower.

Putting the driver front and center

Creating behavior change is the key to safety transformation.

“The number one safety feature in the truck is the person behind the wheel,” said Hussain. “Therefore the driver has to be central to the fleet investment towards safety, plain and simple.”

Investing in video telematics — and getting drivers on board with the technology — is one of the most important steps fleet operators can take to protect their drivers, their assets and their bottom line.

Discover how CalAmp Vision, CalAmp’s fully integrated video telematics system, can help fleet operators reward their best drivers and coach the rest. 

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