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Caught on camera? Carriers dabble in filming drivers

| October 30, 2013

DriveCam’s system uses a window-mounted recording device that captures forward and cab-facing video.

Some large U.S. carriers have began implementing a new method in eliminating accidents and absolving themselves and their drivers of fault in accidents that do occur: Video cameras that film the driver and the road while recording time and place on a map using GPS. 


Carriers watching you, and why that might not be the worst thing

Video monitoring is a trickier subject than it originally appears, especially when truck drivers are exonerated for accidents they would otherwise would be blamed for. ...

OD sister site CCJ Technology Editor Aaron Huff has an extended story on the subject on CCJ  — Click here to see it

As noted previously in an Overdrive Extra blog post from earlier this year, fleets have already used the technologies to set the record straight when sued for an accident that was not the fault of their driver. 

These driver risk management systems, as they’re often called, take the form of continuously recording cameras that feature a cab-facing camera and a forward-facing one. As Huff notes, not all of the footage is sent to the truck’s carrier, but when a “risky event” occurs, like a quick lane change, sudden acceleration or deceleration or running a stop sign, short clips are sent to headquarters, showing what happened before, during and after the event.


Reader: ‘I’d drive naked!’ — More on in-cab facial video monitoring

Readers respond to the question "Would you drive if your carrier had a camera pointed at your face or the road?" Sound off yourself here.

Huff’s story also covers driver acceptance — geared toward fleet managers — of the cameras, as they are generally perceived as invasions of privacy. 

Last December, Overdrive reported on the news that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration OK’d the use of the in-cab cameras, which led to an ample amount of OD reader response, including one driver saying he’d drive naked as a means to give his carrier something to look at, along with other drivers chiming in on their take on in-cab cameras. Click here to see that story.

This video from SmartDrive shows what carriers get when the clips are sent and shows a driver having to come to a quick stop to avoid a collision: 

  • manofredearth

    I for one welcome or new robot drivers. They won’t bitch like a spoiled baby about workplace measures that the rest of the us have had in place for decades.

  • Freedom

    As a coach for a company that uses drive cam. I find that they can not give me the distance between vehicles. Are drivers are told they are following to close all the time. I have even seen a vehicle at a dead stop show it was moving 1.6 mph. Per their recording. Until they can give someone the footage between vehicles and have the correct mph. This is a joke and for some drivers it itself is a distraction.

    They teach you to pick a point on the road and single click until they feel they reached that point. They have no idea how many frame they have seen. They call one click a fourth of a sec.. Sample they pick a dark spot in the road (shadow) and count the clicks to get there. They don’t take into consideration that as you near that point it become closer to you.

    Maybe these companies should put them in their own personal vehicles and let a third party ( police department ) judge them. Using the same methods they use on other drivers Just saying. I bet not one of them would go for it for a years.

    We are loosing more personal rights and freedom once again.

  • james

    I am afraid so people that get into otr trucking have no choice

  • Get Real

    Tom is an idiot. The restroom is company property and so is the toilet. Would Tom like it if they stuck a camera up his ass to see how much he shits?

  • Robert

    Regardless of what the article says it is wrong. I work for swift on a dedicated account and we just got these last weekend. They record all the time not just for an incident. Even though that’s what swift claimed it was bullshit. This device is independent of what the truck considers a critical event. It records every single time you hit a bump or move the steering wheel at all during highway speeds. Pretty much any type of turn will trigger it. And they claim that it only records for 10 seconds before and after but the recording light stays on for at least a minute after each “event.” So yes there are actually people spending all day in a call center type place watching videos all day long so they can provide “coaching feedback.” These are facts, not exaggeration.

  • Tom

    Robert, I use to work with these cameras. You are correct, they record 24/7. (Wait, didn’t you say they only record the incident?) The camera has to record 24/7 in order for it to function properly. If there is an accident, HOW does it get the 10 to 15 seconds before the accident saved? Yes, it records all the time, but it only hold enough recording (about 10 to 15 seconds) at any given moment. Then if there is an an accident, it SAVES the most recent 10 to 15 seconds and records the next few seconds, then stops saving it.
    So, yes, it RECORDS 24/7, but it does not SAVE the recording (again, 10 to 15 seconds) until there is an accident.

  • Robert

    I completely understand that but maybe you should go back re read what I put I was referencing your other points. And swift stated it would record during “critical events” which it does not it takes that 20 second clip every time the road surface changes or is uneven. At the end of the day there is no real reason to record the driver, all the information a company would need to see to determine if the driver was distracted is how they react to what is in front of them. swift claims this is to protect drivers but really it’s just so they can go “oh well the driver reached for a drink 3 seconds before the accident which MAY have impacted their reaction time so the blame rests completely with the driver and we absolve ourself of the situation completely”

  • Tim

    I don’t suppose you considered those of us that have to sleep and live in these trucks after hours. Not to mention that many people who work for these companies do so because that like to be able to do their job without something of someone looking over their shoulder all day long. But keep waving that COMPANY flag.

  • Niko Elliott

    Not all are company vehicles… transam trucking requires them in ALL TRUCKS. Both company and owner operator.. and it is a INVASION OF PRIVACY

  • Niko Elliott

    No they can start recording at anytime. . Little Red light tells on it.

  • Tom

    The cameras are incident cameras. They only record when there is something that sets it off. It CANNOT be triggered remotely. It only saves about 12 seconds of video. If you have PROOF (not hearsay or anything like that) I would love to dispute it. I know these cameras, I worked on them for over two years. I know what they can and cannot do. Everything you have heard is either hearsay or not understanding.

  • Niko Elliott

    Some of these cameras also include microphone in cab .and they don’t shut off when truck does.. can stay powered on for 4 hours after key us turned off… that is plainly a invasion of privacy

  • Niko Elliott

    Cr England is being sued for office personell. Viewing drivers live and making it public discussion in the office…. even while truck was shut down..

  • Niko Elliott

    Bullshit no live feed… try sell that shit elsewhere

  • Tom

    Wow, have you tried to think of this logically?

    Fist, think about your data usage on your cell phone. Think how much data is used to watch a video from like youtube. A 4 gig limit could be eaten up rather quickly. Even on a 4G network. The cameras I worked on operated on 2G or 3G networks. If there was a live feed from each camera and say the company has a fleet of 100 trucks. Can you think of what the data cost would be? Even to get a quality video. Now, here is something else to consider. For a 12 to 15 second video to be uploaded, it takes at least one minute. So, if it is taking one minute to upload a 12 to 15 second video, then how in the hell can there be a live feed?

    People, you really just need to think about the costs involved in having a live feed. Just compare watching a youtube video and watch what it does to your data. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.