Your Guide to the Latest Fleet Safety Technology

March 18, 2021

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Key Takeaways

According to a recent Frost & Sullivan report, safety is the number one priority for 36% of fleet managers. But for fleet managers tasked with evaluating the latest fleet safety technologies, it can be difficult to know where to start. In this guide, learn about the different types of new fleet safety technologies. Plus, see why Samsara’s video-based fleet safety solution is one of the most effective systems for improving driver safety, reducing accidents, and lowering costs.

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Fleet safety is a hot topic—for good reason. Due to rising accident rates, increased in-cab distractions, and skyrocketing legal settlements, fleet managers increasingly see safety as not only a risk to their drivers, but also to their bottom line. In fact, a recent Frost & Sullivan report found that safety was the number one priority for 36% of fleet managers.

But with such a rapid pace of innovation, it can be difficult to keep up with new fleet safety technologies and decide what to implement for your business. From next-generation dash cams to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and driver coaching tools, new technologies and features are developed every year. 

Read on to learn about different types of fleet safety technologies that fleet owners are adopting today. Plus, learn about one of the most effective technologies for businesses looking to protect drivers, reduce accidents, and lower costs: Samsara’s video-based fleet safety solution.

Overview of different fleet safety technologies

From telematics to dash cams, driver coaching tools, and more, here are some of the most effective new fleet safety technologies that businesses are implementing today.

Telematics

Telematics is a term used to describe the long-distance transmission of any computerized information. In the trucking industry, this often comes in the form of an electronic logging device (ELD)

ELDs are mainly used to record Hours of Service (HOS)—the number of hours a commercial driver spends driving per day and how many hours they’re on-duty and off-duty per week. The federal government requires that many commercial fleets have an ELD system for this purpose.

However, ELDs can be used as recording devices for a variety of other telematics data that’s helpful for fleet management—including fleet safety. Equipped with built-in GPS tracking, gyroscopes, and accelerometers, these telematics devices can help improve fleet safety by providing visibility into:

  • Real-time GPS location

  • Speed data

  • Some driver behaviors, including harsh braking, harsh acceleration, and collisions

  • Vehicle safety, including engine fault codes

However, telematics technology alone provides limited visibility into fleet safety—which is why many fleet managers today are adopting video-based safety systems (cameras) in addition to telematics. Read on to learn more about video-based safety.

Video-based safety systems (cameras)

Video-based fleet safety technologies (or vehicle camera systems) have evolved tremendously over the past decade. At first, dash cams were simple event recorders that captured footage until their storage was full. They required manually retrieving footage from a vehicle and downloading it to a computer. More recently, commercial dash cams became internet-connected, with the ability to auto-upload incident footage to the cloud, making it easier for fleet managers to review specific harsh events and coach drivers. 

Today, the most advanced dash cams, such as Samsara AI Dash Cams, use a combination of g-force sensor data and embedded artificial intelligence (AI) to detect a wide range of hard-to-detect incidents, like distracted driving and tailgating, and even offer in-cab alerts to help drivers react to risk factors before an accident occurs.

Evolution of Video Safety, History of Video Telematics

Today, there are a variety of additional camera configurations available for commercial fleets. These different camera configurations serve various purposes and can help solve a variety of different problems:

  • Front-facing dash cams: Designed to capture collisions, front-facing dash cams (also known as forward-facing or front dash cams) are mounted on your windshield (next to your rearview mirror) and have one lens that faces the road ahead. Many fleets choose front-facing dash cams because they want video footage for driver training, coaching, and exoneration from false claims.

  • Dual-facing dash cams: Dual-facing dash cams (also known as dual dash cams) are also mounted on your windshield. But in addition to a camera that faces the road ahead, these dash cams also have a second lens that faces inward to capture in-cab activity. Dual-facing dash cams are ideal for fleets looking to invest in a robust driver training and coaching program. Dual-facing dash cams can help successfully exonerate drivers from complicated incidents, since in-cab footage can be used to show that a driver was attentive and driving responsibly.

  • Exterior cameras: Exterior cameras can be mounted outside your fleet vehicles to capture a 360° view of the surrounding road. These cameras are particularly useful when drivers are confronted with blind spots and need to make tight turns or simply change lanes. Many fleets choose to deploy exterior cameras after experiencing one too many sideswiping incidents, since video footage from exterior cameras is extremely helpful for exonerating drivers from sideswiping damage caused by other vehicles. Rear-facing exterior cameras (also called rear-view cameras or backup cameras) are also helpful for seeing potential objects or dangers when driving in reverse.

  • Interior cameras: Interior cameras can be mounted in various places inside your vehicle or trailer to keep passengers safe and enhance cargo security. Passenger transit fleets often deploy interior cameras to ensure passengers are seated and safe, whereas tractor-trailer fleets use them to reduce cargo theft by continuously monitoring all in-cabin or in-trailer activity. Some less-than-truckload carriers also deploy interior cameras to gain real-time visibility into how full their trailers are.

Although the initial cost of a video-based safety solution might seem expensive, cameras have been proven to reduce overall fleet operating costs and quickly pay for themselves. In fact, the NSTSCE found that when combined with driver coaching, dash cams reduced safety-related events by 52%. Plus, a recent Frost & Sullivan report highlighted how video telematics solutions have been found to lower driver distraction by 80%, reduce speeding by 65%, reduce collisions by 60%, and reduce claims by 25%.

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)

ADAS stands for “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems,” a broad category of technologies that improve vehicle safety by helping drivers prevent or avoid accidents. ADAS technologies are powered by advanced computing, including artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision, and edge computing. This computing power is what makes ADAS technologies so advanced; they can monitor, identify, alert, and sometimes even prevent safety-critical incidents in a proactive, real-time way.

New data shows that commercial fleets are increasingly adopting ADAS technologies as they become more relevant, accessible, affordable, and proven to increase commercial fleet safety. A 2018 survey conducted by Fleet Owner and Informa Engage Research asked fleets if they are currently using at least one of the seven ADAS technologies listed below. Across all fleet sizes, the average adoption rate was 40%—with large fleets (those with 50 or more Class 8 vehicles) adopting these technologies at an even higher rate of 74%.

Read on to learn about seven of the most promising ADAS technologies for commercial fleets, based on average adoption rate from a 2018 Fleet Owner survey:

ADAS TECHNOLOGY

DESCRIPTION

AVERAGE ADOPTION RATE

Blind spot monitoring

Blind spot monitoring uses cameras or sensors to detect and warn drivers about objects that are obstructed from the driver’s field of vision. Sensor-based blind spot monitors are often built into the vehicle itself by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Camera-based blind spot monitors—including exterior cameras attached to the side or rear of a vehicle—can be installed on any commercial vehicle.

77.2%

Forward video monitoring

Forward video monitoring uses forward-facing dash cams—cameras that attach to a vehicle’s windshield and record the road ahead—to capture real-time driving footage. This footage can be used to coach drivers, reduce high-risk behaviors, and exonerate your drivers from not-at-fault accidents.

52.0%

Lane departure warning

Lane departure warning (LDW) uses video, laser, or infrared sensors to track lane markings and warn the driver (often using audio or visual alerts) when their vehicle begins to move out of its lane without signaling. Some LDW technologies are also equipped with lane keeping assist (LKA), which can take control of the vehicle to ensure it stays in its lane.

51.2%

Air disc brakes

Air disc brakes are a type of brake that can apply continuous pressure, making it easier for vehicles to come to a complete stop. Air disc brakes can reduce stopping distance by almost 40%, making them an attractive new technology for fleets with heavy trucks.

46.3%

Collision avoidance

Collision avoidance is a wide-ranging category of ADAS technologies that can help drivers avoid impending accidents. Two of the most popular collision avoidance technologies are forward collision warning (FCW) and automatic emergency braking (AEB). FCW measures the distance, angle, and relative speed between vehicles or other objects in the road to warn drivers of impending collisions. AEB automatically applies the brakes to help avoid a collision.

44.7%

Adaptive cruise control

Adaptive cruise control (ACC) uses radar or laser sensors to detect the distance between vehicles and automatically adjust vehicle speed to maintain a safe distance.

39.8%

Electronic stability control

Electronic stability control (ESC) uses sensors to detect loss of steering control, which can happen after an extreme maneuver (like turning sharply to avoid a collision). ESC automatically applies brakes to individual wheels to help course-correct the vehicle and prevent “spinning out.”

35.0%

In recent years, advancements in ADAS development have led to a new, highly effective ADAS application for commercial vehicles: dash cams equipped with artificial intelligence (AI). For many fleets, AI dash cams are one of the most accessible, affordable, and effective ways to introduce cutting-edge ADAS technology and achieve significant safety improvements without investing in separate hardware.

For example, Samsara AI Dash Cams have built-in ADAS safety features that make it possible to detect high-risk behaviors (like distracted driving and tailgating) in real time before they cause an accident. Plus, with optional in-cab alerts, you can effectively coach drivers to change their driving behavior in the moment, helping avoid collisions in real time and encourage safe driving across your fleet at scale.

Driver coaching software

If you’re interested in implementing a video-based fleet safety technology, comparing the different types of cameras is a great place to start. But the online coaching and manager tools that come with your dash cam solution are just as important—if not more critical—to consider, since these tools are essential for building a successful fleet safety program. Here are a few of the things good dash cam software technology can help you do:

  • Organize and review dash cam footage for hundreds or thousands of vehicles

  • Assign incidents to specific safety managers for review

  • Coach drivers consistently and effectively with driver coaching workflows

  • Gamify driver safety scores and create incentive programs

  • Customize harsh event detection settings for different types of vehicles

  • Retrieve additional dash cam footage to exonerate drivers and avoid false claims

  • Analyze and report on safety trends over time

  • Get real-time alerts and view video footage from a mobile app

What is the best video-based fleet safety solution?

Altogether, the fleet safety technologies outlined above can be incredibly powerful tools for improving driver safety, reducing accidents, and lowering costs. But with so many different technologies to consider, it can be difficult to know where to start and what will make the largest impact. What is the best way to implement a cohesive fleet safety system for your business?

As part of a complete connected operations platform, Samsara AI Dash Cams are proven to increase fleet safety and reduce accident-related costs. Thousands of fleets across the country trust Samsara’s video-based fleet safety solution to protect their drivers, company, and communities. In fact, Frost & Sullivan said in 2019 that video-based safety is a “new safety norm for commercial fleets” and found that Samsara was the fastest-growing video telematics vendor.

Timeline of Samsara video safety, Fastest-growing video telematics vendor

Here are just a few of the results our customers have seen with Samsara’s video-based fleet safety solution: 

  • ArcBest achieved a 13% decrease in the frequency of preventable accidents.

  • Sprint Waste achieved a 58% decrease in speeding, 50% increase in miles per safety incident, and 50% decrease in average dollars per claim. They were also able to exonerate their drivers from 52% of accidents.

  • GP Transco reduced speeding by 66% and decreased accidents by 30%.

Make safety a competitive advantage with Samsara

By integrating AI Dash Cams, telematics, and cloud-based software, Samsara’s video-based safety solution helps fleets make measurable safety improvements and provides ROI in the moments that matter.

In a recent survey of more than 500 Samsara customers, 90% said Samsara has helped improve safety within their fleet. And more than 50% of our dash cam customers have used Samsara footage to exonerate drivers in the past year, saving $5,000 to $25,000 on average, with some customers saving over $100,000 a year. 

To learn more about how Samsara can help your business make safety a competitive advantage, read about how we can partner with you for the long-term, or reach out for a free trial today.

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