‘Seeing is believing’ as Samsara technology tested to the limit

June 11, 2024

Adam Warren

Sr. Field Sales Engineer, EMEA


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It doesn't matter how good a driver you think you are, there is nothing more sobering than seeing your stats after a turn behind the wheel. 

Thanks to connected modern technology, every incident  — from speeding to harsh braking — can be recorded and the data flashed to an online dashboard where it can be viewed immediately by a manager or saved for later. 

The accompanying videos of such incidents — captured by dual-facing AI-enabled dash cams with one focused on the road while the other is fixed on the driver — provide instant context of what just happened.

For fleet managers, seeing what happened running up to an incident helps them determine instantly whether a driver’s decision to slam on the brakes was because they were driving too fast — or because a cyclist pulled out in front of them and they were taking evasive action. 

The benefits of a real-time connected operation platform  

And that’s not all. Thanks to the smart technology, AI-enabled dash cams can spot whether someone is driving without a seatbelt or holding a mobile phone while driving. 

The technology is so good that ten cars along a one-mile stretch of road in Surrey recently clocked up 277 safety warnings in less than two hours. Ordinarily, this would set alarm bells ringing for all those concerned. Thankfully, all the incidents occurred on a closed track at Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge.  

Those ‘caught’ were taking part in Samsara’s first-ever Driver Experience Day in the UK where they were encouraged to test the cars — and their own driving ability — to the limits on a closed circuit under the close eye and supervision of expert drivers. 

And under these conditions, it was also a perfect opportunity to road-test Samsara’s technology in a safe and controlled environment to show exactly what it can do.  

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“It was amazing,” said one of those at the event. “We were in the drivers’ lounge watching the others on the track and we could see the Samsara Dashboard on a big screen. Every time something happened — be it sharp cornering, speeding or someone handling a mobile phone — it was picked up by the cameras and the on-board vehicle sensors. 

“In effect, we were seeing what a fleet or transport manager might see when they log on to Samsara’s platform. We saw a map with all the fleet of vehicles moving in real-time around the track so we knew exactly where they were at any given time. 

“And as soon as anything happened, we received a ‘safety inbox event’ email alert with all the details — such as speed, time and location — along with footage of the incident. We saw everything on one screen. It was mesmerising,” they said. 

But that’s only half the story. Those behind the wheel also received real-time audio alerts warning them that they were either driving too fast or braking too harshly. They were also warned if they weren’t wearing a seatbelt or were using a phone while driving. 

These real-time safety ‘nudges’ gave the drivers the opportunity to change their own driving behaviour ‘in the moment’, helping to improve road safety and prevent potential incidents from developing into something much worse. 

In effect, it empowers drivers to change their behaviour instantly, rather than retrospectively once a fleet manager has viewed the footage of events and arranged to speak to the driver.

Safety and technology in action

Of course, the event was designed to pick up incidents that you would never want to replicate deliberately on the open road. However, under the guidance and supervision of the highly skilled Mercedes-Benz driving team, it offered the opportunity to blend technology and driving in a completely safe environment. 

It also hammered home the effectiveness and speed of Samsara’s Connected Operations platform. 

“For me, seeing is believing,” said another visitor, who was trying out the technology for the first time. “When you see what the technology can do, the insights it provides regarding driver behaviour and how you can make your fleet safer, it really brings it home to you.” 

The event — which attracted around 50 people invited from the world of physical operations — showcased a number of technologies including Samsara’s mobile workflows, connected forms and its fuel and energy hub, which is designed to help fleets easily track and measure their fuel and energy efficiency. 

But it was the safety features on display that were the real crowd-pleaser. 

Speaking in an engaging Q&A session, Mike Cox, Head of Health & Safety at food service company, Sysco GB — perhaps best known for its Brakes brand — described the impact Samsara’s connected dash cams had on his fleet of around  2,000 vehicles. 

“We’ve had a CCTV system in our vehicles for over 10 years as well as telematics with standard mapping that tracks vehicle location, harsh terrain, cornering, and green band driving events,” he said.  

“However, we couldn't see the footage from the desk and had to retrieve hard drives from the vehicles, which was time-consuming. Trying to monitor 10% of our 2,000 drivers each month was like searching for a needle in a haystack.”

Samsara is driving safety standards

But using Samsara’s Connected Operations Platform changed all that. Instead of having to physically walk to each vehicle and download footage by hand, Samsara’s platform delivers the data in real time straight to their central dashboard. 

“With Samsara, we can deliver footage directly to desktops, eliminating the needle-in-the-haystack issue. It allows managers to review incidents quickly, making our job much more efficient,” he said. 

To underline the difference the technology has made, he showed footage of a driver texting and watching a film while driving. 

“We wouldn't have caught this without Samsara,” he said. 

Tangible results and driver buy-in

While that incident was clear-cut and led to the diver’s dismissal, Mike explained that in most cases, any incidents that are flagged are used to help train and coach employees to make them better drivers. The reports also provide essential context to an event to find out whether the driver is at fault or if they were responding to what was happening on the road. 

"Telematics alone doesn't provide enough context,” said Mike. “We need to understand why a driver might brake harshly. Without Samsara, it was challenging to get the full picture. Now, we can see the real reason behind these events and address them appropriately. Having this type of footage allows us to have informed conversations with drivers.”

The upshot of Sysco GB’s investment in Samsara’s platform has been staggering. In the first three months, it saw a 40% decrease in on-road accidents and a 17% reduction in harsh driving events. 

As a result, it has also seen a 15% reduction in insurance costs and a 10% reduction in the average cost of claims. 

Crucially, not only is Sysco GB fully on board with this safety-driven technology, so too are its drivers. 

“Being a driver comes with huge responsibility,” said driver Dean Varney in a short video. “As a one-man job, it is a lot of pressure, especially with busier roads and workloads. You need to know someone's in your corner. 

“Since Samsara, I've been a better driver, there to protect the company, myself and my licence.  For me, Samsara is the second pair of eyes I need,” he said.

That’s why the Driver Experience Day was so important. By allowing customers and prospects to test our products for real, it allowed them to be immersed in ‘everything Samsara’ — and one that really drove home Samsara’s mission to make physical operations safer, more efficient and more sustainable. 

Do you want to see our technology in action for yourself? If so, please register for one of our ongoing Fleet Safety webinars to find out more.


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