How Dash Cams with Night Vision Can Help Your Fleet

September 30, 2020

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Key Takeaways

Dash cams with night vision can help you improve driver safety, exonerate innocent drivers from blame, and reduce costs. In this article, learn how to select the best dash cam with night vision for your fleet.

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If you're tasked with managing a fleet, safety is likely a top concern, and equipping your fleet with dash cams can be a worthwhile investment.

Since so many accidents occur at night, when visibility decreases, it’s important to invest in a dash cam that can record high-quality video, even in low light conditions. Unfortunately, many dash cams are unable to record clear footage in low light conditions, capturing blurry footage with poor image quality that renders it unusable.

If you're in the dark about what type of low-light camera to buy, read on to learn more about how a night vision dash cam can help your fleet.

What is night vision?

At its essence, night vision is a loose term that is often used to describe any technology that helps cameras capture clear footage at night or in other low-light conditions. Generally, there are three different types of technology that are categorized as night vision. These are thermal imaging, active illumination, or high dynamic range (HDR).

When evaluating dash cam solutions, it’s important to understand the differences between these three types of technology.

If you’re a fleet manager specifically looking to capture clear nighttime footage, you may want to consider looking for a dash cam that uses active illumination technology. While there are dash cam options that offer HDR and other technologies, active illumination is the only technology specifically geared towards nighttime recording.

Type of technology

When it works

How it works

Active illumination

Works best at night.

Cameras that use active illumination typically have built-in infrared LED lights, which is invisible to the human eye but is detectable to a camera. At night, or in other low-light conditions, the infrared LED lights illuminate a given area, enabling the camera to record clear video footage.

Thermal imaging

Works during the day or at night.

Unlike active illumination, which uses infrared light to illuminate an area, thermal imaging cameras rely on the heat emitted by all objects. Living objects (a deer, for example) will typically emit more heat than non-living objects (the road the deer is on). Thermal imaging cameras are able to detect these small differences in temperature that are invisible to the human eye and create an electronic image, similar to a heatmap.

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

Works during the day or at night.

Every time you take a picture with an HDR camera, it takes multiple shots, each with a slightly different level of exposure. The camera then blends all the shots together to create a single image (i.e. the final picture you see). This final result will be a high resolution, even if taken in low-light conditions.

Benefits of a dash cam with night vision

For your dash cam to prove its worth, it must be able to reliably capture clear and usable footage in non-ideal conditions—such as at night or in other low-light situations, like early in the morning or in stormy weather. A dash cam with night vision offers you the same benefits of dash cams in general, with the added advantage of helping you to improve fleet safety during nighttime or low-light conditions.

1. Protect innocent drivers from false claims

Of all the accidents they’re involved in, trucks have been shown to be at fault only about 25% of the time—even though they get blamed far more often. The best way to pinpoint whether or not your driver was actually at fault for a collision is by looking at video evidence of the event.

With 35% of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurring at night, it’s especially important that your dash cam is equipped to record high-quality footage in low-light conditions. Samsara driver facing dash cams, for instance, have built-in infrared LED lights and use active illumination to record full HD resolution video, even when recording at night.

Dan Pajeau, CEO of Vehicle Road Service, a 24-hour emergency road service company based in Wisconsin, has drivers who operate around the clock. "Our drivers are out all hours of the day and night, facing rain, snow, and all sorts of bad weather," Pajeau said. "With Samsara, you can still read the license plate of the vehicle in front of you very clearly, regardless of what time of day or night it is."

"We've previously tried other cameras equipped with night vision but we could never see anything besides the driver," he continued. "The video was really grainy and you couldn't really make out anything besides the driver’s face, especially at night."

2. Improve night driving safety with targeted driver coaching

According to the FMCSA, driver fatigue and distraction are some of the most frequent causes of commercial motor vehicle crashes. Further, a study by the FMCSA found that driver alertness was related to "time-of-day", with most drivers less alert at night, especially after midnight.

If your team drives at night, it’s crucial that you have the tools you need to identify dangerous driver behaviors, such as drowsiness or distracted driving during these critical low-light timeframes. Samsara inward-facing dash cams, for instance, use infrared LED active illumination to record full HD video even in low-light conditions. This video footage can be utilized for immediate intervention or for ongoing coaching.

Additionally, Samsara provides you with coaching tools to help you identify coachable incidents and provide you with relevant feedback for drivers.

3. Reduce costs across your fleet

Motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually in legal expenses, lost productivity, and increased insurance costs. The good news is that onboard monitoring systems, like dash cams, have been shown to help reduce safety-related events by up to 50% and can thereby help you reduce associated costs. For instance, being able to access dash cam footage of a collision in real time can help you exonerate innocent drivers and save thousands in insurance costs.

Having access to high-quality dash cam footage can also help you avoid insurance penalties. The footage from Samsara's driver-facing dash cam was instrumental in helping Pajeau keep his insurance.

The company's insurance policy doesn't allow passengers to be inside company vehicles. Last year, when Pajeau was reviewing dash cam footage, he noticed that one of his drivers (who is no longer with the company) was working night shifts with her baby in the backseat of the truck.

"Samsara's camera showed a very clear image of the child and car seat, even though they were all the way in the backseat and it was at night," Pajeau said. "It could have led to us becoming uninsurable. And if it wasn't for the night vision and the camera, we would never have known that."

What other features should my low light dash cam include?

Along with ensuring that your dash cam is set up to record high-quality footage in low-light conditions, here are some additional features you should consider when choosing a night vision dash cam for your fleet. Learn more in our complete guide to selecting the best fleet dash cams.

Image quality

Crisp video quality is essential when evaluating dash cam options. The quality of dash camera footage depends on a variety of factors, including whether the dash cam has a wide-angle lens and if it offers features like wide dynamic range (wdr) and full HD video.

Samsara’s forward-facing dash cams, for instance, include 1080p resolution video at a rate of 30 frames per second—this means that the video is clear enough to read license plates and detect whether a person's eyes are open or closed. And since Samsara’s front and dual-facing dash cams are optimized for low-light conditions, you never have to worry about any loss of quality—even when capturing nighttime video.

Video storage and retrieval

Dash cams typically store your video in one of two ways—either by using micro SD cards and memory cards, or by uploading the footage to the cloud.

Dash cams with built-in memory cards are often limited in their storage capacity, depending on the size of the memory card. You’ll also have to remove the memory card and manually retrieve your footage with these cameras. With internet-connected dash cams, video footage can be automatically uploaded and stored in the cloud. For example, Samsaras dash cams automatically upload high-quality, encrypted footage of harsh events, such as collisions or harsh braking, to the cloud eliminating the need for manual retrieval from a DVR or memory card.

Ease of use

The dash cam solution you choose for your fleet should be easy to set up and intuitive to use. When it comes to installation, there are a couple of different ways to secure dash cams in your vehicles. Some of these include using a suction cup, a strong adhesive, or a base that the dash cam can attach to.

Dash cams that use a strong adhesive, like Samsara dash cams for instance, can be mounted to the windshield and fully installed in about 10 minutes—this includes the time it takes to connect your dash cam to your Vehicle Gateway and set up your Samsara dashboard. Once your Samsara dash camera is set up, it will automatically start recording video anytime your vehicle is in motion.

How Samsara's dash cams can help your fleet

In 2017, the FMCSA found that 32% of fatal crashes involving large trucks—that’s more than 1,350 cases—were linked to driver impairment, with speeding and distraction impairment as the leading causes. Dash cams can provide crucial information to fleet managers looking to improve their fleet’s operational safety.

With Samsara’s dash cams, you can:

  1. Gain greater visibility with low-light recording and night vision: built-in infrared LED ensures that nighttime dash cam footage is always crisp and usable.

  2. Set up in-cab voice alerts: Fleet managers can use in-cab voice alerts to alert their drivers of dangerous behavior, such as an unbuckled seat belt or speeding.

  3. Configure custom speed limits: Fleet managers can set custom speed limits and receive alerts if drivers go over it. Samsara will also automatically play a voice alert to warn the driver of their dangerous behavior in real time.

  4. Review harsh event footage: After a harsh incident occurs, fleet managers can flag unsafe practices and identify any drivers that might benefit from more personalized safety coaching.

To learn more about how Samsara's dash cameras can help you, reach out for a 30-day free trial today.

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