Dashboard cameras are becoming indispensable for commercial motor vehicle fleets and other businesses looking to preserve a good safety record, protect themselves against legal liability and lower insurance rates. When purchasing a dashboard camera, organisations need to compare products and systems to determine the solution that best meets their individual requirements.
It’s a growing trend; the worldwide dashboard camera market was valued at $1.7 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2025. In addition to trucking fleets, dashboard cameras have seen wide adoption by driving instructors, law enforcement, taxi and bus companies.
Dashboard cameras offer added capability with the telematics technology in use by a wide range of industries.
For commercial motor vehicle or equipment applications, a typical consumer dashcam is not a good solution, for many reasons – including limited data preservation, fewer features, and lack of compatibility with vehicle systems. Fleet managers and owner-operators can achieve better efficiency and significant cost savings by selecting a dashcam platform that is integrated with other functions that help them maintain productivity and safety – GPS tracking, driver monitoring, engine diagnostics and more.
To choose a dashboard camera, purchasers should compare performance specifications, ease of use, features, and compatibility with the rest of their telematics and OEM vehicle technology. Features and specifications to look for include:
- Dashboard camera: resolution, contrast, unit size
- Memory: capture, automatic save, uploading
- Integration: compatibility with other hardware and software
Dashboard camera and memory
Tech site Wirecutter says that cameras should include resolution of at least 1080 pixels. Other features to consider are the type of mounting hardware and reasonably compact exterior dimensions.
Image resolution can make a difference in situations such as a traffic collision because a sharp video can show license plate numbers more legibly, as well as other data that may provide evidence in a potential legal dispute.
Technical publication PCWorld mentions image quality in night recording, because nighttime images produced by some dashboard cameras are indistinct or too dark.
Most dashboard cameras are set up to record continuously, activating automatically when the driver starts the vehicle’s engine. Almost every dashboard camera re-records or loops its data: when the memory card is full, the device overwrites the oldest files to make room for what it is recording.
Data capture and uploading with dashboard cameras
For preserving recorded video, basic consumer models include a pushbutton on the unit that allows the driver to save the recorded footage. More advanced technology -- better adapted to the needs of commercial fleets and businesses -- can detect a sudden change in vehicle speed, a physical shock or abrupt stop and automatically save the segment of video that began shortly before the incident and ended shortly after it.
The automatic save feature activated by speed changes, severe acceleration or hard cornering or braking allows fleet managers to monitor driver behaviour, and helps drivers improve their performance. This video is a useful addition to the overall telematics picture that vehicle fleets already use to support safe driving.
Another function to look for: automatic uploading. When the device detects a severe change in speed it uploads the video segment to a remote location. The data is immediately available. In an accident or other situation when the dashboard camera unit is not accessible, uploading provides a video record for review and analysis from anywhere.
Dashboard camera integrations
A dashboard camera that operates as part of an integrated telematics solution offers a simplified but advanced system for helping fleet managers and drivers to stay legally compliant, protect against fraud or excessive accident claims, identify unsafe driving patterns and reward good driver performance.
The ideal solution features a video recording combined with driving behavior data captured from vehicles and their operators to provide a clear visualisation of driving incidents and road events.
As part of the integrated telematics solution, video is a component used in creating a customised driver scorecard, a tool that measures and ranks fleet-wide driver performance. This scorecard can be used to evaluate performance -- and by highlighting areas for improvement, it may be used in creating effective driver training programs. Focused driver training can reduce risk and it supports an emphasis on safety throughout the organisation.
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Cameras and their ease of use
An integrated dashboard camera and telematics solution provides in-depth reporting on driver and vehicle data from a single source, for easier review and analysis. Installation is simple and the device is easy to operate.
A dashboard camera used as part of a telematics solution can help improve driver safety and productivity, decrease insurance premiums and vehicle maintenance costs, and protect against liability.