IN THIS CHAPTER
- 01.Understand the Technology:What are dash cams?
- 02.Evaluate Your Options:The different types of dash cams
- 03.Select the Right Vendor:What to look for in a dash cam platform
Part 1—Understand the Technology
What are dash cams?
Dash cams, also known as dash cameras or dashboard cameras, are an extremely effective safety tool for commercial fleets. From coaching drivers to exonerating your company from false claims, they can be used in a variety of ways to improve fleet safety and reduce costs.
How dash cams work
Dash cams are cameras that can be installed in a vehicle to capture footage of the road ahead and activity inside the cab. The best dash cams are connected to a telematics solution with a g-sensor, so the system can automatically detect safety-related events—like harsh braking, harsh turning, and collisions—and upload incident footage to the cloud. There are a variety of different types of dash cams that can be deployed for various purposes, but generally fleets install dash cams because they’re looking for better visibility into on-the-road safety and footage that they can use to exonerate innocent drivers in case of an accident.
Why are dash cams worth the cost?
One of the biggest objections to investing in dash cams is the cost. Although the initial cost of dash cams might seem expensive, video-based safety solutions 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%.
Learn more about the ROI of dash cams
See how much money your fleet could save by rolling out a video-based safety solution.Learn More
The benefits of dash cams for fleets
Before diving into the different types of dash cams, it’s important to take a step back and understand why commercial fleets are investing in this technology. Below, check out the four major benefits of dash cams.
Avoid false claims
In car-truck accidents, trucks are only at fault about 26% of the time—but they get blamed far more often. Internet-connected dash cams can auto-upload incident footage to the cloud within minutes, making it easy to exonerate innocent drivers on the spot, bypass lengthy claims processes, and eliminate unnecessary payouts.
Lower insurance costs
When it comes to insurance premiums, safety is a big factor. Because dash cams are proven to improve safety and mitigate risk, your insurance company may offer a premium discount, credit, or subsidy for installing Samsara AI Dash Cams and sharing safe driving data.
Reduce vehicle wear and tear
Harsh braking wears out brake pads and causes unnecessary stress on vehicles. Combined with a telematics system, dash cams can play in-cab audio messages when safety-related events are detected, helping to discourage harsh driving and reduce physical damage and maintenance costs.
Minimize labor costs
It might be surprising, but dash cams can reduce labor costs in a few different ways. With digital driver safety scorecards and video-based coaching tools, your back office team can coach drivers more efficiently. Plus, dash cams make it possible to create a robust rewards program, which is proven to increase engagement and retention, leading to lower turnover and hiring costs.
Part 2—Evaluate Your Options
The different types of dash cams
Dash cams aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are a variety of different types of dash cams available—but some are better suited for commercial fleets than others.
Dash cams for consumers vs. commercial fleets
If you Google "dash cams," you're likely to find dash cams meant for consumers on websites like Amazon. Some of the most popular consumer dash cam brands include Sony, Thinkware and Vantrue. While these dash cams can be helpful for people looking to install an inexpensive camera in their personal vehicle, they’re not meant for commercial fleets. They usually have a memory card that must be manually retrieved to download footage, posing logistical challenges for fleets managing multiple vehicles and drivers.
Dash cams for commercial fleets are more robust—both in terms of the features they offer and the value they can provide. Dash cams that are purpose-built for commercial fleets, like Samsara AI Dash Cams, connect to a telematics device that provides WiFi and can detect safety-related events like harsh braking, speeding, and collisions. That way, these dash cams can auto-upload video footage from safety-related events to the cloud, making it easy for your back-office staff to review safety-related events and coach drivers effectively.
Different camera configurations
- Designed to capture collisions, forward-facing dash cams (or front cameras) are mounted on your windshield and have one lens that faces the road ahead. Many fleets choose forward-facing dash cams because they want video footage for coaching and exonerating drivers but are concerned about getting driver buy-in. These dash cams don’t record the inside of the cab, so they are ideal for fleets with privacy concerns.
- Dual-facing dash cams (or dual cameras) are also mounted on your windshield. But in addition to a lens that faces the road ahead, these dash cams 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 coaching program and successfully exonerate drivers from complicated incidents, since in-cab footage can be used in the case of an accident to show that a driver was attentive and driving responsibly.
- Exterior cameras can be mounted outside your vehicle 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.
- Interior cameras can be mounted in various places inside your vehicle or trailer to keep passengers safe and boost cargo security. Passenger transit fleets often deploy interior cameras to ensure passengers are sitting and staying 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.
Different dash cam system features
Once you decide what configuration best fits your needs, you’ll also want to consider the variety of different features available. From artificial intelligence (AI) to night vision, here are a few of the most important dash cam system features to consider.
Artificial intelligence: The most advanced dash cam systems include built-in artificial intelligence (AI), so they can detect safety issues without a g-force trigger—like rolling stops and distracted driving. AI makes it possible to coach drivers on risky behavior and near misses.
Internet connectivity: Most dash cam systems have a micro SD card or memory card that stores footage locally, but more advanced dash cam systems can connect to the internet via high-speed cellular connections that let you send footage to the cloud, providing nearly instant access to footage.
Harsh event detection: The best dash cam systems use a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer to automatically detect harsh driving events—like harsh braking or a collision—and auto-upload footage to the cloud.
Resolution: Resolution (or image quality) depends on how many pixels the dash cam system records. High quality forward-facing dash cam systems should record video in 1080p full HD, which will make it possible for you to see the road ahead clearly and make out numbers on license plates.
Field of view: Field of view is how much of the road (or inside of the cab) the dash cam system can see. To ensure your dash cam system captures a broad field of view, look for a wide angle or semi-wide angle lens.
Mounting: The two most popular ways to install dash cam systems are via a suction cup (or suction mount) or via adhesive. Some dash cam systems may also attach to your rear view mirror. Adhesive attachments are generally a more secure option that still offer quick and easy installation.
Audio speaker and recording: Some dash cam systems include built-in speakers that can play verbal and/or audio alerts when unsafe driving behavior is detected, like cell phone use or speeding. You may also be able to turn on recording to capture audio during safety events.
Night vision: Some dash cam systems are optimized for capturing footage at night or in low-light conditions. If your drivers often operate at night, look for a dash cam system with infrared LED, which is particularly important for capturing video footage of unlit cabs.
Samsara Customer Safety Survey Results
of Samsara dash cam customers have exonerated a driver in the past year
of customers say Samsara has improved safety within their fleetlearn more
Part 3—Select the Right Vendor
What to look for in a dash cam platform
With so many dash cam vendors on the market, it’s impossible to try every single option. How can you narrow it down? Here are a few things to consider when selecting the best dash cam solution for your fleet.
Internet connectivity is key for any fleet that wants to use dash cams as a proactive safety tool. Without internet connectivity, dash cams can only store footage on a local memory card—meaning someone has to manually retrieve the footage from the vehicle. On the other hand, dash cams that are connected to a telematics device with WiFi and cell service can auto-upload event footage to the cloud. This makes it possible for fleet managers to coach and exonerate drivers in real time.
Everything you need in one integrated platform
When evaluating dash cam solutions, look for an integrated platform that offers dash cams and connected driver and admin apps in one, unified solution. Why? Beyond consolidating your tools and simplifying your workflows, an all-in-one platform connects the dots between your data, unlocking better insights and larger safety improvements.
Samsara offers an all-in-one platform that is trusted by more than 10,000 fleets, and 90% of customers say that Samsara has helped improve safety within their fleet. Why? Samsara’s telematics device—the Vehicle Gateway—includes a gyroscope and accelerometer that can detect safety-related events, like harsh braking, harsh acceleration, harsh turning, and crashes. When these incidents are detected, the internet-connected Samsara AI Dash Cam automatically uploads 10 seconds of footage from before and after the incident to the cloud, enabling real-time driver coaching and exoneration.
Currently evaluating dash cam solutions? Request a free trial of Samsara today to see how an all-in-one platform can improve the safety of your fleet.
Benefits of an All-in-one Platform
Advanced incident detection
Auto-uploaded event footage
Streamlined coaching tools
Driver safety scores
Analytics & trend reports
Fewer tools to switch between
Make fleet safety a priority with Samsara
Samsara offers a complete video-based solution for improving fleet safety and reducing costs.
AI Dash Cams
Protect your brand and exonerate your drivers with intelligent front-facing and dual-facing dash cams that can analyze the road in real time and auto-upload event footage to the cloud.
Get live-to-the-second visibility into the location and driving status of every vehicle with an FMCSA-registered ELD that can detect safety events, like harsh braking and acceleration.
Driver Coaching Platform
Standardize incident review and driver coaching—even across large fleets—with accountability and workflow tools, including customizable in-cab alerts and recommended coaching scripts.