Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

Smile for the camera, but keep your eyes on the road

| April 15, 2014

I recently interviewed a few executives of Lytx, formerly known as DriveCam, which includes video in the safety analysis programs it offers fleets.

Lytx and SmartDrive are two of the leading vendors for truck video systems. These can involve forward cameras, to capture accident scene detail, and dashcams to capture driver performance. (You can read more about use of video by Lytx, DriveCam, Meritor Wabco and Bendix in the links at the bottom of this story in Commercial Carrier Journal.)

SmartDrive says its video event recording technology, combined with the rest of its system, can reduce collision costs up to 70 percent.
SmartDrive says its video event recording technology, combined with the rest of its system, can reduce collision costs up to 70 percent.

DriveCam and Lytx are selling results based on much more than video, such as ECM and GPS data. “What we try to do is improve driver skills,” said Lytx Marketing Director Chris Silver. “One tool in that happens to be video.”

Silver was curious about driver opinions, since most of what they hear about in-cab cameras is, predictably, negative. In fact, one of the new Lytx features is that customers will have the option of rewarding high-performing drivers by turning off the in-cab camera, while leaving the forward-view camera operational.

Even though the safest drivers rarely, if ever, trigger the in-cab camera by exhibiting unsafe behavior, such as hard braking, most drivers prefer driving without the possibility of it coming on, she said.

After all, having anyone’s camera inches away from you virtually the entire time you’re doing your job, and knowing that you don’t have control of the on/off switch, has to be unnerving, even if you’re the safest driver on the road.

Any comments from those who have been driving with a company video camera trained on them? 

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  • James Leftlane Cook III

    Well any company that has to film me don’t trust me and if that’s so I’ll do another line of work…One of my last company’s got sued over it cause they were watching we man drivers undress….

  • James Leftlane Cook III

    Amen brother

  • USMC 69-75

    That’s why billy boy started subsidizing JB and pumpkin years ago, to get as many newbies as possible. Driver’s with a lick of sense!

  • Jimmy the Greek

    Grow Weed !

  • Jimmy the Greek

    You Got That Right !

  • James Scotsman

    Unfortunately i see the Radio Rambos have internet acceas as well. They all talk a good game, about what they will do, or how they will quit and walk away. But in the end, they bitch and gripe, but will be right back in the truck the very next morning. Been in this industry for almost 30yrs and have seen it over and over. All it ever amounts to is an explosion of hot air.

  • localnet

    This John fellow, he is like the guy at the theater that won’t shut up. Allot of hot air.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    I am 62 at 66 i well get 1950.00 per mo with all i own payed for i can live off that , lol

  • Mind Games

    Did a test run for Salmon and sons, let’s put it this way. “I won’t be back” If a driver cannot feel that he is contributing to the growth of 1984 communist style he’s not an American! Straight up no chaser!
    I also learned to ASK before wasting gas and or time going to a trucking company that has spy cams!
    I personally look down my nose at companies that have them installed and trained upon the driver, don’t get me wrong I almost sold my soul but decided after a few drinks I’d rather keep what little I have, companies that do that are beneath me and are not worth the time of day to even think about let alone work for. I have far more class and self respect as well as love for country to help them stay in business.
    I pity drivers that are running with them and if I learn while speaking to them they have one the conversation ends abruptly no pardon me nor excuse me I refuse to talk to them immediately they become invisible.

    Hopefully you drivers that don’t have them installed will join me in my crusade to force drivers to understand that is not the way this country nor what our Constitution stands for and shun these drivers like the soulless parasites they’ve become and there’s no excuse to for ignorance in this area, desperation maybe as in what I thought my situation was but it was and is not and I will not be party to destroying my beloved America because of the leaches that many have and continue to vote for. In my book hopefully yours too fellow driver it freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody and this means if it becomes law I will strike back by simply hanging up the keys.

    God Bless America!!!

  • Mind Games

    You act as though this is the only job you or any of us can do, what is your education level sir? Do you not know any other skills? They do have classes online sir!!!

  • james

    I was with C.R. England on the Smithfield account in 2011 when they put them in some of there day cabs and otr trucks. You spend more time looking for the green light to come on that says it is recording then you do watching traffic. They say it does not record all the time but it has to if it is going to monitor you it also records every thing you say in the truck. Also an issue about privacy after you shut down and are getting undressed. If you block the camera they will know and call you.should be against the first admenment to have something like that in the truck.

  • Patrick

    I work for McLane & their putting these devices in trucks. Mostly because Federal DOT & Insurance companies pushing it, especially after they had a Driver error(fell asleep @wheel) that killed two elderly about 2 yrs ago. The more driver stupidity, the worse things are going to get out of our hands. Just look @ all the 4wheelers today driving, their taking more chances then 10-20 yrs ago. It’s really scary!!

  • Byron Emery Mayfield Sr

    I drove from 1975 until 2011. I owned my own for 20 years and I would never have allowed a camera in my truck.

  • DonM

    You drivers that have any self respect and brains to do so should make every effort to find a new vocation. Life on the road sux and all of you drivers are treated like shit.

  • Brad Kayganich
  • localnet

    Maybe for you…

  • Josh Barnett

    There putting cams in the trucks where i work

  • Mind Games

    You have been in this industry for that long because that’s all the faith you have in yourself and all you know how to do… RAMBO!

  • Mind Games

    ….and that goes for you too SON OF A RAMBO!

  • Robert Martens

    While I do not have the exact date this white paper was released, It was within the time frame of Steve Owings becoming the chair of the FMCSAC. This would put this paper within the last year.

    Safety advocacy groups (a.k.a. the anti-truck crowd) in Washington D.C. have made quite a big business out of truck bashing. Their latest target: attempting to derail the ability of motor carriers to remove from their safety profile crashes where the carrier bears no responsibility.

    Groups such as Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and Road Safe America combined reeled in over $3.1 million in financial contributions in 2011. They are politically savvy in the ways of Washington and count as one of their biggest political supporters on Capitol Hill none other than Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Chairman of the U.S. Senate subcommittee on Surface Transportation (he has announced his intention not to seek re-election this year).

    The power and influence of these safety advocacy groups extends to getting appointments on federal advisory committees where they help shape federal transportation policy – often with the bias that truckers are an out-of-control mob in need of further regulation. All four of those groups have seats on the federal Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) which provides advice and recommendations to the Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In fact, the new Chairman of the MCSAC is Road Safe America founder Steve Owings.

    Ever since FMCSA launched its new truck safety/oversight initiative – Compliance, Safety, Accountability or CSA in December of 2010, the trucking industry has bitterly complained (correctly) about the bias present in an oversight system that tracks all reportable crashes of a motor carrier without discounting those for which they bear no fault or responsibility.

    Early last year FMCSA pulled back at the last minute from issuing a rulemaking that would have established the mechanism to allow motor carriers to challenge crashes where they bore no fault. The safety advocacy groups pounced with the claim that Police Accident Reports (PARS) to be used as the basis for a challenge were not reliable enough to use in determining fault. Currently, the MCSAC is tasked with studying this controversial issue. The stakes are quite high when you consider if truckers are not responsible for the majority of crashes, then safety advocacy groups get politically neutered.

    Last month, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) issued a whitepaper titled Relative Contribution/Fault in Car-Truck Crashes which was basically a synopsis of numerous studies looking at who was at fault and the reliability of using PARS. Studies from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and FMCSA itself were analyzed from the perspective of “relative fault” which is another way to say the percentage of fault borne by the drivers of vehicles involved (California law requires this analysis for civil litigation related to accidents).

    So what was the conclusion? Based on the analysis of the studies from those four entities (derived from PARS), car drivers were principally at fault in 70-75% of fatal car-truck crashes. Interestingly, when one peruses the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) the ATA finding is similar to the fault determinations shown in that data system.

    Safety advocacy is big business. It’s pretty tough to gin up financial support without a boogeyman and any system that shows truckers are innocent victims of others negligence will be opposed bitterly. There just isn’t any “green” in acknowledging the truth – truckers are safe drivers.

    My view as far cameras monitoring the driver. While there is, from a fleet ownership standpoint, some validity to a system that monitors a driver, to improve driver skill, the underlying reasoning behind this system is to mitigate the carriers’ losses. If the camera can prove that in a crash the driver was negligent in their duties, legal responsibility can be removed, thus mitigating financial loss to the company. Also it has the potential to record damage to the carries equipment which can then be charged back to the driver.

    Since their are no legal guidelines to a monitoring system, then a carrier will not be required to set the system to only record an event, so the only justification to a claim that the system only comes on in an event is if that is how it manufactured, and cannot be changed.

    In any event, cameras monitoring a driver are a control issue. As an employee being made aware of the system, the driver has little option, other than chosing not to work there. If and when they are mandated by the FMCSA, since Ferro is already looking in this direction, then in my opinion it becomes a constitutional issue over privacy, self incrimination, and warrantless search, and I see no justification from any standpoint at that time.

  • big Chrome

    U must be marred iam not an the truck wage sucks it still in the 1940 rate a McDonalds employees and get a $15 an hour pay raise why can’t we yeah we don’t flip burgers but we do have a life too

  • Jimmy the Greek

    Wife died in 1994 ,I live a simple life , I have 5 old HD,s pre 1974 if i need a car or something i can sell off one of the bikes . As far as the money i make with the truck , I make well over what most do , i am in a nich My last settlement was $4,300.oo , $1,000. went out for fuel that was for two runs from Houston to New Orleans , Returned empty on one and the back haul well be on the next check for the other

  • John Ryan

    Again another wild statement and lie. My life is in easy mode thank you, it’s you that could not get another job if you destroyed property. be real

  • John Ryan

    I here this over and over. you can bet that when (not if) this becomes mandate you and or many others will grumble but still climb in the truck and go.

  • John Ryan

    We all are

  • John Ryan

    theater??? This is about your freedom not a movie you moron.

  • localnet

    Moron? You are they one dancing around with your panties in a wad. And your smart ass comments are rather old. So when was the last time you spoke to your congressman? Or is it just the old we need to shut down BS, is that your moronic solution? Piss off.

  • localnet

    You are a punk.

  • sbh

    we were hesitant to try these, but the first truck we tried on the first day the camera was installed, a truck in another lane drifted into our truck. the video saved our butt. a week later an suv with a trailer loaded with snowmobiles tried to pass one of our oversized loads before entering a road construction zone. when he didn’t make it and plowed into a k-rail, he and a couple of other cars all came forward saying our truck ran them off the road, thankfully we had a camera in that truck also and was able to prove the truth, otherwise we would have certainly been hung in that case. say what you want, i wouldn’t drive now without a camera, even if i had to buy my own. it’s called CYA!

  • PattyCakes

    Not sure John.

    I think many know and even vote, but these guys who purport to represent their constituents, could care less what their constituents want or if what they are doing is Legal / Constitutional..
    They do as they please and just give us excuses … the good old ” If it saves just one life / child ” is their favorite excuse.

  • John Ryan

    Did you try to say something??
    hey lets go see the movie

  • Richard

    Well here we go. A guy that must be a government puppet. John, I don’t know how long you’ve been around but I can tell you this, I fought for my right to be free when I spent almost seven (7) years in Nam. I came home to a bunch of idiots that thought I didn’t deserve to be home. So I decided to become a truck driver. In 1970 I bought my first truck and have been doing it ever since. I have driven over 7 million mile accident free and no camera. My privacy is my privacy and the freaking government can stay the hell out of my truck. You defend the companies right to invade our privacy. How many rights have you given up as a bureaucrat? I am an Owner / Operator and damn proud of it, but if you think your company ( if you work for one) is the only company out there you are sadly mistaken. How many miles have you drove as a truck driver ? In my opinion I don’t think you could find reverse in a truck unless it was an automatic. Could you even grasp the term double clutch? I understand progress and technology is constantly moving forward, but to give up our rights in favor of progress is something I will NEVER DO. I AM AN AMERICAN TRUCK DRIVER!!