How Dash Cams and GPS Improve Fleet Safety and Efficiency

May 01, 2020

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Key Takeaways

When it comes to fleet safety, dash cams can capture invaluable evidence about what was going on behind the scenes of an accident or dispute. Installing a dash camera into every vehicle you have on the road provides fleet managers with high-quality video footage, which can help provide unprecedented insights into safety-related incidents. Some of the best dash cams on the market also integrate with fleet management systems that offer real-time GPS tracking. Knowing the exact location, speed, and route of vehicles involved in reported incidents can help you improve safety across your fleet by adding valuable context to the dash cam footage you’re able to capture of the events in question.

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Learn more about how dash cams with GPS can help you protect your drivers from false claims, reduce incidents across your fleet, and reduce driver distractions.

Choosing between consumer and commercial dash cams

The type of dash camera you purchase for your vehicle is highly dependent on your specific use case. There are many consumer dash cams on the market with a range of features including bluetooth connections to smartphones and even built in voice command driver assistance systems such as Amazon’s Alexa. Deciding between these features can help consumers pick a dash cam that fits with their budget, lifestyle, and personal preferences.

When it comes to fleet management and business use cases, advanced dash cam features can make a major difference in the way your business is run. Deciding between features such as how video footage is stored—on a memory card versus an upload to a cloud storage service via cellular network or via Wi-Fi—can affect how quickly and reliably you can access your footage. The field of view and video quality you’re able to capture with a wide-angle lens, low light sensors, and night vision can all expand how many potentially unsafe activities you’re able to capture with your dash camera. Even the viewing angle—a forward facing camera to provide forward collision warnings plus a rear camera to detect tailgating from other drivers—can become a major factor in how helpful a dash cam ends up being in keeping your drivers safe on the road.

Of all the features dash cams can come equipped with today, a GPS connection can be one of the most useful for many reasons. Read on to learn the tops three benefits of a GPS connected dash cam for fleet operations.

Benefits of dash cams with real-time GPS

1. Protect drivers from false claims with location-specific information

For many fleet managers, protecting their drivers from false claims is a key priority. Despite the fact that trucks cause only 26% of accidents they’re involved in, fleets face false damage claims far more often. In these situations, having high-quality dash cam video footage along with GPS information at your fingertips is essential for exonerating your drivers.

Real-time GPS data can add valuable context to HD 1080p video recordings, such as the speed at which the vehicle was traveling when the accident occurred, as well as its exact location. So, if you receive a complaint about a driver at a particular location, real-time GPS information can help you determine whether the driver was there, while wide angle dash cam footage can help you quickly determine whether or not they were at fault.

The Samsara system uses dash cam footage and GPS data to empower fleet managers with a Proximity Search feature. Proximity Search allows fleet managers to quickly access historical location data and see exactly where each of their vehicles were during a suspected incident. For instance, they can look up a specific location during a given time frame in the past few weeks and if any of their Samsara equipped vehicles were at that location during that time the vehicles would be listed. Fleet managers can then click into a specific vehicle to retrieve full HD footage from that driver’s dash cam to gain additional context about what might have occurred.

For example, Trees Atlanta, a non-profit focused on preserving urban forests, was able to use Proximity Search to exonerate their drivers and protect their reputation. After receiving complaints that crews were planting trees in yards without permission, Logistics Manager Tabitha Schwartz turned to Samsara’s GPS data and dash cam footage for proof that her drivers weren't to blame. She was able to use Proximity search and Samsara's easy video retrieval process to prove that her drivers weren't present in the areas associated with the complaints.

2. Use GPS information to reduce safety-related incidents

While dash cam footage can provide greater visibility into safety-related events, the added context provided by GPS tracking information can help you understand where and why safety-related incidents might be occurring in the first place.

To anticipate and prevent safety-related incidents, Chris Henry, Director of Operational Support at North Carolina-based Barnes Transportation Services, uses Samsara dash cams to identify “trouble spots”—specific roads or intersections that cause challenges for his drivers. Chris uses a vehicle’s GPS location to identify areas where delays or accidents frequently occur and then turns to the high-quality dash cam footage from Samsara’s AI dash cams to gain additional insight into what might be causing those events. Dual dash cams that face both the road and into the cab can show him what his drivers are doing from both perspectives. Armed with all the context about an incident, he is then able to provide specific coaching tips to his drivers.

Samsara also provides safety alerts for hash events such as sudden braking. There are customizable notifications for unsafe acts such as driving above a preset speed threshold. While the vehicle is in motion, Samsara’s GPS detects the vehicle’s location in real-time and looks up the speed limit for that area in Samsara’s global speed limit database. If the vehicle is traveling over the speed limit for that area, Samsara will immediately notify the fleet manager via text and email. The fleet manager can then view details about how the driver is performing from the Samsara mobile app, including viewing a loop recording from any footage captured by a dash cam around the same time frame. 

For Henry at Barnes Transportation Services, being able to gain context around harsh events from his Samsara AI dash cams has been key in helping him provide targeted coaching to his drivers. “We get drivers calling us all the time wanting to understand why a certain spot was marked with a harsh event,” Henry said. “That’s when we explain how Samsara can detect a harsh event and I can then provide training to help them change potentially dangerous behaviors.”

3. Improve dispatching with context provided by GPS and dash cams 

Unexpected delays can be a frustrating and expensive issue for fleet managers. Luckily, dash cams with GPS can help you gain greater visibility into when and where your drivers might be running into obstacles that cause delays.

For Chris Henry, a key safety feature is Samsara’s live GPS sharing link that communicates real-time vehicle locations and up-to-the-minute ETAs at a shared URL. According to Henry, the ability to share this with Barnes’ customers has helped reduce distracting customer calls to his drivers by 80%, allowing them to focus on the road.

Additionally, using Samsara’s traffic and weather overlays along with the still images from Samsara’s dash cams allow Barnes’ dispatchers to monitor deliveries around the country and anticipate potential delays. For example, if Barnes’ dispatchers notice the vehicle running behind schedule, they can use map layers along with wide angle dash cam footage to determine the cause—perhaps they’re stuck in unexpected traffic or facing severe weather—and update their delivery windows accordingly.

“The weather and traffic overlays and live GPS tracking allows our dispatchers to speak to our customers more intelligently about what’s going on,” said Henry. “Not only is it a huge time saver to have all the information at hand, but it’s also a huge safety feature because they don't have to call the drivers and create that extra distraction.”

How Samsara dash cams can help your fleet

When used along with high-quality dash cam footage, GPS data can provide fleets with valuable additional context, enabling fleet managers to protect their drivers against false claims, reduce the rate of safety-related incidents, and reduce distractions. Samsara’s AI dash cams are part of a complete fleet management platform that offers increased visibility into fleet operations through features like real-time GPS tracking, live safety alerts, and more. 

Creating a connected dash cam system

Samsara’s AI dash cams capture smooth, high-definition video of the road and driver simultaneously, enabling operators to clearly see events of interest. With high-end resolution, 30 frame per second capture, and in-cab Infrared LED for unlit nighttime video, Samsara’s AI dash cams provide exceptional performance in a scalable camera system.

When paired with the Samsara Vehicle Gateway, Samsara’s AI dash cams automatically upload video clips and still images to the Samsara dashboard, providing zero-touch, centralized visibility into footage from an entire fleet. The cameras’ cellular capabilities eliminate the need for manually retrieving memory cards from vehicles or downloading footage from a DVR. Operators can instantly access recent and historical captures from any web browser, and can easily dismiss or flag events for follow-up.

The Samsara dashboard delivers access to footage immediately before and after harsh events such as sudden accelerations, harsh braking, or collisions. In case of a complaint or accident, proximity search and on-demand retrieval of video evidence can be used to exonerate drivers and simplify accident reconstruction.

Instantly review collisions, near-misses, and distracted driving events with dash cam footage that is automatically uploaded to the cloud. Using a g-sensor and computer vision, Samsara labels and tags events, alerts drivers to high-risk behavior, and sends event details to fleet managers in real-time.

The inward-facing audio speaker provides real-time feedback to promote safe behavior. And on certain models, drivers who are engaged in dangerous driving or not wearing a seat belt will receive voice-based safety warnings.

Installing Samsara dash cams

With advances in imaging technology, encoding, and wireless data networks, Samsara’s AI dash cams bring tremendous quality and features at a fraction of the cost of traditional enterprise-class systems. With no complex wiring or configuration, it's also easy to use. Samsara’s AI dash cams install in about ten minutes, often near the rear view mirror, and the Samsara dashboard enables users to access footage without training or IT expertise.

The dash cameras mount on the inside of the windshield with heavy-duty acrylic foam tape instead of suction cups. Tilt control allows for proper front-facing orientation with a wide variety of windshields. The cameras connect to Samsara's Vehicle Gateways via an accessory port for power and connectivity.

See why 9 out of 10 customers say Samsara has helped improve safety within their fleets. Learn more about our complete video-based driver safety platform or start a 30-day free trial today.

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