Dash Cam
Dash cam footage acts as an accurate record of what occurred during an incident instead of relying on witness testimony, which can be untrustworthy.

In recent years, dashboard cameras have become an increasingly popular risk management tool for fleet managers and drivers across Canada. These on-board cameras, often referred to as dash cams, are placed on a truck’s dashboard or windshield and record forward-facing video.

Due to their ability to create clear and unbiased visual records, dash cams have become an invaluable tool for resolving a range of disputes. However, before implementing them into your fleet, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of dash cams.

The Case for Dash Cams

Installing dash cams in your business’s vehicles has a number of significant advantages. Specifically, dash cams can provide the following benefits:

  • Evidence for insurance claims. Dash cams can be especially helpful when it comes to resolving insurance claims. This is because the footage acts as an accurate record of what occurred during an incident instead of relying on witness testimony, which can be untrustworthy. Additionally, in many instances, the availability of dash cam footage can speed up the claims process.
  • Evidence of insurance fraud. Dash cams can help drivers avoid becoming the victim of staged accidents, which fraudsters use to claim false injuries in order to obtain benefits from insurance companies.
  • Evidence of theft and vandalism. Drivers can use dash cams to protect their vehicles from thieves and vandals. When a vehicle is parked, some dash cam units will automatically begin recording if they sense movement. Footage can then be shared with authorities to help their investigation.
  • Driver monitoring. Driving habits related to speed, acceleration and routing can have an impact on fuel economy. Furthermore, unsafe driving not only endangers the safety of your employees and those on the road, but it can also increase the chances of losing a truck in your fleet following an accident. Dash cams can be used in conjunction with other technology platforms to monitor and correct a driver’s bad habits.
  • Reporting dangerous drivers. In the event that a reckless driver endangers your fleet or the general public, dash cam footage can be used to report them to the proper authorities. In some cases, this could result in the dangerous driver being cited.

Potential Drawbacks of Dash Cams

Dash cams may help you save money, but they aren’t without their disadvantages. The following are some of the potential cons of implementing dash cams into your fleet:

  • Distractions. While most dash cams are fully automated and don’t require any driver handling, some may require attention during trips. This is dangerous, as it can distract drivers from the road, increasing the likelihood of an accident. Additionally, the device could obstruct your driver’s view.
  • Driver privacy. Any time a device has the ability to record video, privacy concerns are inevitable. Before purchasing a dash cam, it is important to consider your own driver’s feelings, as dash cams could be seen as an invasion of privacy or a sign of mistrust.
  • Legal considerations. In the vast majority of North American jurisdictions, the use of dash cams is permissible. However, some provinces and U.S. states have laws against recording individuals without their consent. What’s more, some jurisdictions have adopted rules that prohibit or restrict the mounting of objects on a vehicle’s windshield.
  • Visual limitations. The majority of dash cams are forward-facing, and will not provide any insight for incidents that occur behind or on either side of the vehicle itself. It is possible to purchase additional cameras for complete coverage, but this can be expensive.

What to Look for When Buying a Dash Cam

Dash cam features vary and dash cams can range drastically in price from $50 to over $400. Given the array of choices, knowing what model dash cam is right for your fleet can be a taxing affair.

The following are some of the major features to look for in a dash cam:

  • Memory. Units that feature removable memory cards are preferred. The internal memory storage in dash cams isn’t always reliable, and having a unit that you can reload with fresh memory cards on long trips can help you avoid having to delete old footage. This is important if you want to check the entirety of a drive. Some units may even be capable of sending footage remotely via the cloud. This gives you the option to review video almost instantaneously, which can be helpful if your drivers are far from your place of operation.
  • Resolution. The higher the resolution, the better the video quality. Clear video can make all the difference when investigating incidents like accidents and theft.
  • Low-light performance. In many cases, your fleet will have to operate at night. This can be troublesome for certain brands of dash cams that perform poorly in low light. You’ll want to look for dash cams that have night vision or infrared LED.
  • Displays. While displays on dash cams can be a beneficial feature, more often than not, they can be a distraction. You’ll want to purchase a dash cam that has a low profile and won’t be a tempting distraction to your drivers.
  • GPS. Many dash cam models provide GPS data logging. Cameras with this feature will record your driver’s position together with the video, which you can play back on a split screen with a map through a special software.

Dash cam technology is constantly evolving, and you will have to do your own research prior to buying one. This will help you avoid overspending on a device that doesn’t fit your needs.

Other Considerations

Before installing dash cams in your vehicles, it is vital that your business has policies in place surrounding their use. These policies should clearly state how your business intends to use the footage obtained through the cameras. This can help ensure that your drivers understand the importance of dash cans and do not feel their privacy is being invaded.

Your business’s policies should also do the following:

  • Identify inappropriate uses of dash cams and dash cam footage;
  • Restrict a driver’s ability to upload dash cam footage to the internet or social media platforms without prior consent;
  • Define when drivers must use dash cams;
  • Provide drivers with steps they must take to secure their dash cam unit; and
  • Provide instructions for storing and submitting footage.

Lastly, the use of dash cams can open your business up to a new set of exposures. Notably, the retention and use of dash cam footage can create cyber exposures for businesses that don’t already have a cyber liability insurance policy already in place. Moreover, for some businesses, acquiring dash cams for their fleet represents a significant investment. Accordingly, businesses should review their current insurance policies with their broker to determine whether dash cam units are covered in the event they are damaged or stolen.

Protecting your Fleet

Dash cams may not be right for every fleet, but they can be handy when it comes to filing insurance claims or protecting your property. Again, be thorough in your research before deciding to purchase dash cams for your fleet.

For more industry risk insights, contact Prairie Villa Insurance.

Questions?

Contact us and one of our brokers will be happy to assist you.

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