The Pros and Cons of Driver-Facing Cameras

Lindsey Bergeron

April 15, 2016 -They’ve been called the latest in safety innovation, a cutting-edge monitoring method that ultimately saves lives, and an effective means to significantly reduce liability.

And on the other end of the spectrum? They’re described as scarily intrusive, another way for companies to micromanage their drivers – and they cross a line of privacy that is getting increasingly more blurred in this digital age.

A divisive technology, they are nevertheless the newest thing in trucking – so what’s the deal with driver-facing cameras?

How They Work

Driver risk management systems – or dual camera systems – comprise of one forward-facing camera trained on the road and another turned into the cab focused on the driver. As they – and the truck – are rolling, they capture video and audio while recording time and location with a GPS. They also typically have an infrared function so they can properly record in the dark.

Data is fed into an onboard system, which carriers can access through a web portal. Footage of “risky” events – such as quick lane changes or fast stops – are actively and immediately sent to the carrier. Alerts can also be set up for drivers exhibiting signs of being over-tired or distracted, such as drooping eyelids or frequent nodding of the head.

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Over time, companies have the opportunity to use the collected data and analytics, paired with audio and video, to create a comprehensive driver snapshot.

How Prevalent are They?

Although the concept of dash cams is nothing new – just watch any episode of “COPS,” for example – dual camera systems are beginning to experience more widespread adoption in the industry. Two of the larger providers in the space are SmartDrive and Lytx, both based in California.

Such systems were given the stamp of approval from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2012, and larger fleets such as Martin Transportation Systems and Swift Transportation have begun to test and adopt them – ultimately providing positive reports that are prompting more carriers to consider them.

The Case For

Early adopters have called them vital tools for their business.

One of the most significant benefits has been decreasing liability. According to the FMCSA, the average cost of all large truck crashes is $91,000 – which increases to $200,000 if there are injuries, and $3.6 million should the crash result in a fatality. However, having real-time video evidence has helped to exonerate companies in crash lawsuits.

The systems also help to decrease fraud and increase security – much like a home-based system, scammers and thieves are warier when a camera is rolling –and they have proven to be an invaluable teaching tool, as well. Video and audio footage allows carriers to identify areas where their drivers might need improvement, and provide coaching and re-training.

The Case Against

Not everyone is buying it, however.

Many drivers say the systems provide an over-excessive – and unnecessary – amount of control and severely invade their privacy.

Adoption will sow seeds of discontent among drivers, some say, making them feel micromanaged and creating an impression that their employers don’t appreciate them, or worse, don’t consider them trustworthy or capable.

What will really promote good driving habits, they say, is simple recognition and praise for successfully completing what is a difficult, demanding and stressful job – not a reactionary, Big Brother solution.

What are your views on driver-facing cameras?

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About the Author

Lindsey Bergeron is Editor of the Foley blog. Serving as transportation guru, she keeps an eye on the industry and its day-to-day evolution and developments, specifically writing about the various lifestyle, business and regulatory topics that are most relevant to motor carriers. Holding a degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Connecticut, she ran a successful content marketing firm before joining Foley at its Hartford hub. Her current expertise in transportation writing is built upon an extensive background in editing, feature writing and content development.

22 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Driver-Facing Cameras”

  1. this is out right nuts I have always resisted driving for a company but this is over the top. Drivers will get so paranoid they wont be able to function. alerting your boss every time you have to take evasive action. I guess we just risk quietly running over cars.

    1. This is just another way for companies to prove that they were not at fault. Most older drivers that have prefect safety records and continue to, even with these cameras. Problem is the reason why is the way they conduct business. The system is not flawless, companies are relying on these electronics rather then a driver with 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years experience and safety.

  2. I’m all for dash cams, that is, the type facing the roadway and traffic around my truck. As for one trained directly at my face, NO WAY! No one likes being stared at by another person and to me that’s essentially how it would feel. Enough data can be collected with views of the road and vehicles around me, coupled with speed, time, etc. I don’t even mind the idea that sudden or extreme motions report to my carrier. They don’t need to watch my every personal move and facial twitch to know what’s going on.

  3. The driver cams and cameras have a good point. The problem is the industry and business take this negative. Their seems to be a war between the employees and business or there management. That why the unions are unions and that what they are there for. It is another tool for business use again the employees. Business often use employees backs to make money. What should happen is business and employees work together and share the profit from the business that the business does. Back to the cams, business people, dispatchers ,etc… see these cams and see something of a problem and fire the driver. If they instead use it in a positive way and find a solution it would be a win, win the business would make more profits and all would earn more.

    Driver on the road driving, varies type of tiredness happens quickly. This can happen even the driver had enough rest or time off. The dispatch or some boss act negative and fires the driver for being dangerous. If the management instead thinks positive and look for a solution, they would gain a good driver with less expensive training and more profit.

    The solution of the problem maybe; More breaks, drink more water, eat a differently, more activity, change routes. I am sure there is a solution for better or safe driving. Be positive in the solutions will make the employees happier and safer. If the camera would do that I am all for it watching drivers.

    1. Your an idiot… Do your really think businesses should “share” their profits with the employees? Do you actually think businesses are using their employees backs to make money? If so, you do not understand business! As far as “using” the employees backs, it’s called employment. It’s your job, you will work, you will get paid for the work you do! That’s definitely not what one should consider being “used”. And as far as Shari g the profits with the employee, what capital did you put forward and invest so that you could reap the rewards of profitability? Probably nothing…. So there for you aren’t entitled to any profits. Your an employee, plain and simple. If you don’t like it you could quit. Go invest in your own business and see how much it actually costs to run a business. Then come back and say that you want to share your profits with someone that merely does a task, an employee…. You shouldn’t comment much on these topics, your obviously not educated enough to be speaking on this. Get back to work!

      1. I’m sure your wealth began the same way as the employee commenting, maybe even a handout who knows.. no need to blow steam over an opinion, no need to belittle the employee by labeling them an idiot.. I take it you’re a business owner someone who should carry themselves in a more professional manner.. you my friend are the idiot and if this is how you look DOWN on your employees, I pray as a fellow business owner that your organization rots in the Hell in which apparently it was formed.. I pray that it takes you to the beginning​ guy! Brings you back to this employees level to where you’re recorded for an entire 8 to 12 hour shifts live feed to an assassinator of your caliber.. You’d quit the first week cause as your comment shows you feel The World owes you something.. so I say that to say this sir or ma’am instead of Get To Work I say Go to Hell! 😂😂 Good Day

      2. who are you kidding employers use employees mostly male employees profiting off giving the bar minimum not paying entitlements not showing or giving employees respect not giving lunch breaks not giving a shit about work place health and safety. wake up. ask men analyse watch and accept the truth. employers know men dont talk and express emotion well so they use this to their advantage employers know men are going to go call some organisation write a letter and bother to prove their being treated unfairly. any woman who cares about her man will and who bothers to read legislation (idealism not reality) sytems make i harder for people noone monitors business its expected they do right by people. business in its entirety is taking advantage of people studying people to proffit off taking advantage of natural behaviours. looks at chocolate for example tricks the brain into wanting more people get fat have no control exploited theres one example do you reseach and stop trying to fool people with your self entitlement and listent to people reseach ask questions before you dare disregard the truth of the matter of dare give your narrow minded agenda serving opinion. people matter if you cant take a good hard look in the mirror and self asses your disgraceful imaginary idenity and wake up to your self. we are all preople your all equal get over your self your bot better then anyone else. men deserve to be treated better. society and peoples misplaced values need somr re evaluation!! money and greed over people and the environemnt are you kidding? really? your a person living on this plannet, with a family possibly kids or will have kids we all want a healthy environment and it starts with valuing the real shit before the man made bullshit idealist legislation idiotic self serving opinions. value people and the enironment more then money and well all be happy … you wont need your opinion … what a reality check huh? I have no time for duality (getting lost in equal and opposing arguments by definition) wake up and get real. im angry with idiots like you do some soul searching and research what im saying to you and realise who the real idiot is and stop thinking you know everything

      3. Keep thinking company drivers arent educated ,thats
        Under estimation an just your OPINION! We are skilled. Laborers. Not ever one can be aTruck drivers or a Brain Surgeon The job was well Respected in the 60 s 70s 80s Rember the White
        Kights of the Highway.??
        Drivers are the first to deliver an the last to get paid , every thing u touch or use has been moved by a Truck an Driver!

  4. While on some levels, big data, driver facing cameras and real time event reporting make sense to the mega fleets – they shouldn’t be alarmed when they can’t find veteran drivers to fill the seats.

    The Orwellian aspects of this technology is troublesome. Drivers already feel micromanaged. One of the few remaining pro’s of being an over-the-road driver is the freedom it allows from just such scrutiny. Trust begets trust. As these types of intrusive tools become more attractive to fleets, they will likely see a proportionate drop in new hires. – or at least in the number of veteran drivers who refuse to be watched over by Big Brother.

    As for outward facing cameras, there certainly is a case for them. All to often a parked vehicle is hit by another truck and there’s no proof to exonerate the faultless driver. In fact, many company drivers and owner operators purchase them for just that reason.

    As for hubba bubba 239 or dubba hubba hubba, or whatever you goes by; it ain’t cool to call people idiots. Stick to the issues.

    – See more at: Carrier Journal&ust_id=3111adbce54a73d5681ddf26eba77719#sthash.ZPSvT1Q0.dpuf

  5. I am all for the forward mounted cameras, they have proved invaluable in accident litigation and keeping bogus traffic tickets off of drivers CDL’s. I just quit a company that installed rear mounted cameras equipped with a Mic.One of the reasons drivers do what they do is the freedom of not having someone looking over our shoulders like in an office cubicle. The inside of my truck is my “space” when they installed the camera. I asked the VP of the company how he would like it if a camera was pointed at the office personnel for 8 hours. You would have thought I asked him to sleep with his wife. No cameras for this driver!!!

  6. Six years with the company I like a lot, and I show up for work after six days off and there’s a Camera on my windshield. Read my mind, do you think that’s disrespectful on its face? Sadly, I notice I am talking in a smart ass manner to the camera. I am trying not to be knee-jerk in my reaction, but I have already contacted some firms and fellow drivers. I do cover the camera every time I stop. I piss in a bottle most of the time while I sit in my seat. It seems to me it would be hard for an employer to say they wanted to see you do that; it kind of undermines there “watching us driving” rationale.

  7. They can make an already stressful situation more stressful, id like to see a study done with blood pressure and heart rate monitors hooked to drivers with driver facing cameras and with out cameras, let’s see the effect on drivers health.

  8. We have them where I work. We all agree that the driver facing camera is a source of great stress in an already stressful environment. Our team drives metro DC, VA, and MD. The invasion of privacy is humiliating, managers sit in offices looking at the cams and having a big laugh at the facial expressions during a frightening driving indecent. The claim is that they use the cameras to reduce accidents and protect us when we are in the right. But they are being used in an oppressive manner. The driver facing cam has one real purpose, and one only, to detect cell phone use. Wish there was another way. The videos are shown in slow motion and every eye movement is scrutinized, we are then reprimanded for even the slightest error in what are perceived eye movements. We are often told, you didn’t scan the road, you have a glazed over look, you looked down, what are you looking at?, we can see brake lights in the camera, and you don’t see then for X amount of seconds, if your eyes were in the right place, you would have hit the breaks sooner. Whoever described this as Orwellian, has a handle on the situation.
    In conclusion, it is my experience, that the drive cams are a great source of stress, and are an invasion of privacy, and a tool for control by humiliation.

  9. My company installed a driver facing camera in my truck two weeks ago. If I could have my last day with this carrier would have been yesterday but I have to be smart about quitting which means I’ll stick around for another two months which is when I expect my internet-based businesses that I’ve been running on the side to replace my income from trucking two months from now. With the driver facing camera that day can’t come soon enough and at this point I would still quit even if I were making only half of my income from trucking.

    Most drivers aren’t going to quit over this unless they find another carrier that doesn’t have driver facing cameras but if they do find employment with another carrier that doesn’t have the spy cams then they should absolutely quit their company and go elsewhere. Since most drivers can’t or won’t quit immediately the companies that use the cams are going to think they’re not getting pushback. What they don’t see is me telling other drivers who ask about my company to look for their next driving job elsewhere when I’m talking to them at the truck stop.

  10. It sure is nice to know about the dual camera system and how it provides the benefit of recording what is happening inside and outside the car when it is being driven, which is a good security measure. My wife and I just bought a new car. To make sure that our actions and other motorists are recorded while the car is being driven, I’ll have this installed ion the car right away.

  11. In theory, cameras are a good tool. In reality, in the real world and, in a practical sense, they’re not all that. Outward facing cameras save some money in liability but, not as much as you would think. When there’s an accident and a legal action is brought forward, it’s usually against everyone, the company, the driver, everyone they can. It’s called the deep pockets theory. Generally the company will settle out of court because it’ll cost more in legal fees to fight the suit than it would to just offer 10 or 20 thousand. It comes down to a business decision. Do we spend 100 thousand fighting a suit we can win or, give them 10 thousand, admit no fault and be done with it. You see where I’m going here, the benefits of the outward facing camera’s are limited. The inward facing camera’s another story. There are benefits if used correctly but, they are used more for punitive purposes than for their intended purpose. Under the guise of behavioral training, the video is gone over, by a variety of people, analyzed with the purpose of finding all the faults they can and then pointing each and every one to the driver, along with sound. This adds extra stress to the driver and reduced productivity for the company. Drivers, or at least the majority of drivers do not like the inward facing cameras. A benefit for the company though is, in an accident, the inward facing camera shifts a large part of the liability from the company on to the driver. As I stated, if they were used as first intended, they might have been a good thing but, they’re not used like that, they’re used for punitive purposes. Now I’ve been around for 40 yrs. and have a clean everything. If I had a choice between a carrier with an outward facing camera only or no camera, and a crrier with both in and out facing camera, I take the first option. And when I don’t have that option, it’s time to retire. Respect goes both ways. Maybe the fleet Safety person should have a camera on their desk watching them all day, and when they take a sip of coffee or talk to the person at the next desk, we can instruct them that is distracting them from their job and, we can’t have that. Now it won’t go against you this time but, just sign this paper stating that we spoke about this.

  12. External cameras should show if a driver is fatiques, security for theft etc. recording the driver is not ok unessicary and drivers feelings and thought should be considered before any approved laws human rights. the honest truth is companies that use this sytem do micro manage their employers. some underpay and some call the minute your not in the car to ask why, call to question thw drivers decisions if driving away from the job and dont stop to consider the poor guy needs a rest, to stop and eat and is a grown ass man with his lisence and is capable of making his own decisions his own judgements and calls. its not ok. its abuse of power and only ***holes desperately need to control and lack any regard for their employee. the government and people should do all they can to help our men and pur men deserve to be treated with respect. aussie men deserve to feel happy loved appreciated and most importantly treated with dignity and respect. It causes problems for society when employers and organisations behave like this and cant even ask the works whom the decisions being made effect. data statistics are bullshit ask the person. further more the pore treatment of men causes more servere psycological problems for men and socoety. suicide, domestic violence, lack of self worth, depression, anger etc. no its not ok and men deserve better. qld businesses owners care more about money and use and abuse their workers ive watched it for years Im disgusted to be honest. the governement, fair work, legislation is all idealism, misguided agendas and in actuality writes abut fair treatment people arent getting in reality its makes you wonder why they are still around even. duality (getting lost in equal and opposing arguments by definition and ambiguation tactic) needs to stop people need to start thinking about valuing their lives the people within theit community and stand up for whats right rather then get lost in a stupid argument about opinions. treat people better and stop valuing plastic money more then out people and environments get real world. Autonomy is your birth right noone can take it away. in others words youd dont have to accept what you dont agree with you have the right to decide whats best for you. as long as your not hurting anyone or their belongings your no criminal you have rights. dont take shit. stand up for eachother. stand up for your selves. make society hole and complete by showing you care 👍

  13. People become truck drivers because they want to be left alone. The cameras don’t allow people to be left alone. Sometimes I do things I shouldn’t do. I typically make a judgement as to whether or not any harm will come of it. The company is far more critical than I am of simple, basically harmless gaffes in my driving. But I don’t get into accidents that cause any damage or injury. That’s not good enough for them; the spy cam will make sure they have all the dirt they could want. Now it will also make sure they don’t have enough employees to run their trucks. Also, you might notice the extreme amount of patience people have with machines. Machine malfunctions, maybe even screws up thousands of dollars worth of product. “Oh well” they say. “That machine is always doing that but management is too cheap to replace it”. But a human makes a mistake and all hell breaks loose. How about putting cameras watching your machines and computers if this is not personal?

  14. Outward facing cameras are great. Driver facing dash cams are intrusive, demeaning, disrespectful and uncalled for. How would you like to be on camera 24/7 for a four day trip from to CA? I wish that some lawyer would have the guts to start a class action lawsuit against the insurance companies that require them, the trucking companies that subject their drivers to this invasion of their privacy and camera manufacturers that make specific inward facing cameras. Not all truck drivers are dumb and uneducated. We put up with enough crap already.

  15. I didn’t realize that the cameras had an infrared option, so that they can also record what happens at night. My brother recently decided that he wanted to install a dash camera system in his truck. I will have to let him know about this option. I bet he would be excited about it.

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