It’s no secret in trucking that most drivers aren’t big fans of driver-facing cameras in their cab. The argument many drivers give, and perhaps with good reason, is that the truck is their home and they feel like their privacy is being invaded by having cameras turned toward them.
New research released last month by the American Transportation Research Institute dove into the issue of driver-facing cameras and how they are perceived not only by drivers, but also by legal experts and insurers.
Joining Jason and Matt on the 10-44 this week is ATRI Research Associate Alex Leslie, who talks about the report's findings and ways fleets can approach drivers about the cameras.
Contents of this video
00:00 Driver-facing cameras and driver opinion
02:00 Safety, litigation, privacy, and overall approval
04:50 Road-facing cameras
06:11 Event-based cameras
07:34 Preventative safety measures
08:26 Drivers, legal experts and insurance companies agree on cameras
10:09 Privacy concerns with driver-facing cameras
12:04 Driver suggestions for improving driver-facing camera acceptance
14:23 Fleets and driver-facing cameras
This week's 10-44 is brought to you by Chevron Delo 600 ADF ultra-low ash diesel engine oil. It's time to kick some ash.
While drivers are mostly opposed to driver-facing cameras, opportunities do exist with the technology.
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Hey, everybody. Welcome back. I'm Jason Cannon, and my cohost, as always, right through there, is Matt Cole. It's no secret in trucking that most drivers are not big fans of having a driver-facing camera in the cab. Their argument, and it's a valid one, is that the truck is where they live, and they feel like their privacy's being invaded by having a camera pointed at them.
New research released in April by the American Transportation Research Institute dove into the issue of driver-facing cameras and how they are perceived not only by drivers, but by legal experts and insurers as well. Joining us again on the 10-44 is Alex Leslie, a research associate with ATRI, who talks about how ATRI conducted the study and what they found are the issues with, as well as some opportunities for, driver-facing cameras.
Our goal really was to look for areas of agreement and potential compromise among the key industry subcontracts on driver-facing cameras. That involved surveys of drivers, over 2,000 of them, as well as legal experts, lawyers, and insurance experts as well. There's a lot of different carriers out there with a lot of different policies and a lot of different camera vendors. We were looking for, where does that agreement exist? Where is the possibility for compromise? And ultimately, if a carrier is going to adopt driver-facing cameras, what are the ways that they can do so to maximize safety and driver approval?
When conduction surveys about these cameras, ATRI looked at four different areas, safety, litigation, privacy, and overall approval. Now, among drivers, unsurprisingly, privacy scored the lowest of the four areas.
We tracked four key areas of opinion, basically. We asked drivers what they thought about the camera's ability to improve safety, to help in litigation, to protect privacy, and then ultimately what their overall approval rating was. We asked them to rank those on a 0 to 10 scale. And our average overall approval, excuse me, among current users was, like you would expect, a bit low. It was 2.24 out of 10. Right, so that is low, and it does reflect the fact that a lot of drivers do have concerns. Of those four key areas, privacy was the biggest concern for them driving those low ratings.
But I will say too, that's an average. That means that it's around 2-1/2, or for every three drivers who give it a 0 out of 10, that means one is giving it a 10 out of 10. Of course, there are plenty of drivers who are rating it anywhere in between there. But while the average does tend low, there is a diversity of opinions out there.
Alex noted that like driver-facing cameras, road-facing cameras were also not very popular when they first came out. But driver opinion on those has turned considerably over the years. After a word from 10-44's sponsor, Chevron Lubricant, we'll hear from Alex on some comparisons ATRI was able to draw between the two camera systems.
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When road-facing cameras were first introduced, driver opinions of them were quite low. To begin with, any kind of camera was a big question mark. And since then, driver opinions of road-facing cameras have been on the rise as they become more widely used and as drivers have experienced the positive benefits, not just for carriers, but for themselves, that come out of road-facing cameras. So they tended to score much higher on average in, again, those four key areas, safety, litigation, privacy, and overall approval. Though drivers did still have some privacy concerns with road-facing cameras, even. That was their lowest score for both camera types.
I think there's a couple takeaways there. There are a number of reasons why drivers prefer road-facing cameras right now. Of course, it's not facing inward to the cab. But it does show, I think, that with well-developed policies and with policies that really keep driver concerns in mind, there is a path forward for driver-facing cameras to be implemented in a way that can meet driver concerns while also serving some of the benefits that we get out of cameras.
One key finding of ATRI's research was that drivers who have had cameras in their trucks, whether it's inward facing or outward facing, rated cameras higher then those who have not had any experience with the cameras at all.
One of the key parts of this report that we wanted to dig into was, okay, when there are drivers who think more highly of driver-facing cameras, why is that the case? What are the either ... maybe their background or their experience or the kind of operation they work in that leads them to that more positive opinion?
And the first thing we found, like you said, is that current users rate the cameras more than twice as high as drivers who have never used them. So simply having any experience whatsoever already increases that. Another key factor there was event-based cameras that trigger when there's some kind of event, like a sudden braking or a sudden swerve, versus continuously reporting cameras. Those event-based cameras tended to get rated higher by drivers by about 22%.
And then another factor we found was that, again, when drivers have experience with potential benefits to themselves, those ratings go up as well. We asked drivers about what kind of preventative safety measures their footage was used for. We tracked ongoing driver coaching, initial driver training, and then footage being used to develop safety programs more broadly. What we found is that carriers that added one or two of those, visionary opinions went up, and when carriers were using footage for all three of those areas of preventative safety, driver opinions went up by 87%, which, again makes sense, right? If drivers see a benefit to them, if drivers are actually seeing what that footage looks like and having opportunity to actually work with it in a positive, productive way, their opinions go up considerably.
As Alex mentioned, drivers rated event-based recording cameras higher than continuously recording cameras. But what did the legal experts think?
One of the things about this research that I was most struck by was how much agreement there is among drivers, legal experts, and insurance experts on what the concerns are with driver-facing cameras, but also what the preferences are. One of those areas was for event-based cameras. We found that I believe it's 83% of legal experts that we surveyed said that they also prefer event-based cameras. For them, it's for some of the same reasons [inaudible 00:09:10] why drivers prefer them. Lawyers are really concerned about excess footage, footage that plaintiff attorneys can maybe comb through and find little behaviors here and there that maybe weren't even necessarily related to the crash but could be used to try to sway a jury in court.
And they're also concerned about what sometimes are called over-coaching, which is the kind of coaching that identifies, you know, every time a driver turns the dial on the radio or something like that. Drivers don't like that. They call it nitpicking or other things. Fault-finding is another phrase for it. But the reason why the lawyers don't like it is because they say it creates this record of all these issues, when in fact they're not really issues. They're minor events. So that's the kind of thing that can be used negatively by plaintiffs in litigation as well.
As I mentioned before, privacy is almost always what we hear as the reason why drivers don't want a driver-facing camera. Alex says ATRI's research found that to be more than just anecdotal evidence.
Yeah, our privacy findings really weren't that surprising. Again, if you've talked to drivers, you've heard a lot of the things that we've heard on the subject of privacy. It's especially a concern among drivers who, you know, they're doing long haul. Their truck is not just their workplace, but it's also their home. And it's especially a concern among women in the industry. Among our respondents to this survey, women rated privacy 34% lower than males, which is to say they were that much more concerned about privacy. There are a number of different reasons. Women, certainly, there are instances where they've experienced unwanted comments about their appearance, or even comments that fall under the umbrella of sexual harassment. Again, as an industry, that's something that we need to be very conscious of for any carrier who's looking at implementing driver-facing cameras.
We asked drivers and insurers and lawyers as well who should have access to footage, and everyone agreed that the most important person to have access was the safety director. But after that, generally everyone agreed that really it should be limited as much as possible to just safety directors having access to that footage, again, to try to limit who actually sees it, limit potential issues with privacy. And we have a number of interesting suggestions from drivers about further steps that carriers can take to improve privacy protection.
Despite drivers' low opinions of driver-facing cameras, ATRI did hear some suggestions from drivers during its research about what might make them more comfortable with the cameras.
The biggest thing is that they want some of those protections involved. One of the biggest suggestions we heard was that the cameras should be off when the truck is not moving. That includes, sometimes, of course, drivers got to keep the truck running, whether that's for climate control for the cab or for the cargo. So they want the cameras to not be recording even when the truck is maybe still running but stopped or in park.
Another big factor is, again, I mentioned how when carriers are able to use footage for preventative safety, like coaching, driver opinions tend to go up. But that said, drivers also had a lot of good suggestions for how to improve coaching, because if coaching is done poorly or if it's done in a way that causes anxiety or negativity, it can be actually counterproductive. So drivers suggested things like less nitpicking or less fault-finding. They suggested less punitive use of footage, to keep the use of footage as positive as possible, as a way to reward good driver rather than constantly as a negative factor.
That really is, I think, one of the biggest areas for potential improvement in this carrier-driver relationship over driver-facing cameras. Cameras have the potential ability to really showcase driver skills, driver success, drivers out there doing good work, not just staying safe themselves but avoiding some of the nonsense that happens on the road around them that they aren't causing but have to react to. When a carrier can use a camera to create a more positive environment and an environment that, again, recognizes and celebrates driver skill, while protecting privacy, that really is, I think, the most positive pathway.
For fleets that are considering bringing on driver-facing cameras, Alex says there's several factors carriers should consider before springing them on the drivers.
I would say first of all that every carrier is different, and that different drivers have different perspectives and needs, too. So a carrier looking at driver-facing cameras is going to have to think about what do their operations look like, also what does their company culture look like. Driver-facing cameras are going to fit with certain carriers better than others, I think.
The second thing I'd say is that that driver-carrier relationship is important, right? If there's trust there to begin with, if that relationship is already strong, then driver-facing cameras are going to seem like a way to continue to strengthen the company as a whole, drivers, management, everyone. If that relationship is shaky, then that's the case where then adding in a camera potentially seems like, oh, now another way they're trying to watch me or they're trying to get me. That relationship happens before the camera, and then it continues after the camera if a carrier does choose to add them.
So our report, we really tried to look at what are those different pathways, what are those different potential policies that a carrier could consider in order to try to, again, not just improve safety, but also improve approval? And the exact choices that a carrier makes, they're going to differ from carrier to carrier. But we tried to lay out what a number of those could be. And even for carriers who maybe they've decided they aren't going to use driver-facing cameras, it's important even for those carriers to know that this is a trend that's happening. Like it or not, there are other fleets that are adopting this. So going forward, fleets that decide not to adopt them are going to have to know how to respond, for example, when they end up in court, and being able to prepare themselves for the questions from the plaintiff bar, for example.
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