The Fleet Manager’s Guide to the Best Front and Rear Dash Cams

April 17, 2020

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Key Takeaways

Learn about the different types of dash cams for fleets, including front and rear dash cams. Plus, tips for selecting the best dash cams that can help your fleet reduce accidents, avoid false claims, and lower costs.

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Front and rear dash cams are two of the most popular dash camera options for consumers. But what are the best dashboard cameras for commercial fleets?

If you manage a fleet, installing dash cams is one of the best ways to protect your company from false claims and decrease risky driving behavior. But dash cams made for consumers—from brands like Garmin, Sony, Thinkware, Vantrue, Rexing, and BlackVue—simply aren’t effective for fleets that are managing dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of vehicles.

In this guide for fleet managers, you’ll learn about:

  • The different types of dash cams for fleets, including front and rear dash cams

  • The most important features to consider when selecting a dash cam for your fleet

  • Why dash cams are worth the investment

  • The best dash cams for fleets

Different types of dash cams for fleets

Dash cams come in a variety of different configurations—depending on how many lenses they have, where they’re supposed to be mounted, and what they’re able to record. Below is an overview of the different types of dash cams and their purpose. Keep scrolling to learn more about each type.

Type

Mounting location

What it records

Purpose

Front dash cam

Windshield

The road ahead of the vehicle

Capture footage of accidents and near misses in front of the vehicle. Expedite insurance claims with unbiased video evidence and exonerate drivers.

Dual dash cam

Windshield

The road ahead of the vehicle and the driver inside the cab

Capture footage of accidents and near misses in front of the vehicle, as well as the driver inside the cab. Prove drivers are practicing good behavior and exonerate them from not-at-fault accidents and false claims. Coach drivers with in-cab alerts to reduce high-risk behavior.

Exterior dash cam

Outside the vehicle, often on the side

The area around the vehicle (depends where it is mounted)

Capture footage of sideswiping incidents. Give drivers better visibility into blind spots.

Rear dash cam

Outside the vehicle near the rear license plate

The road behind the vehicle

Capture footage of accidents that happen behind the vehicle. Give drivers better visibility when backing up or parking.

Interior dash cam

Inside the vehicle, often in the trailer

The inside of the vehicle, usually the cargo hold

Capture footage of activity inside the vehicle (like inside the trailer or cargo hold). Understand remaining cargo capacity, get alerts for activity, and prevent theft.

Front dash cams

Designed to capture collisions, front dash cams (also known as forward-facing or front cameras) are mounted on your windshield (next to your rear view mirror) 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 on dual-facing dash cams. These dash cams don’t record the inside of the cab, so they are ideal for fleets with privacy concerns.

Dual dash cams

Dual lens dash cams (also known as dual dash cams, dual-facing dash cams, or dual cameras) 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 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 dash cams

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.

Rear dash cams

Rear dash cams (or rear cameras) are mounted on the exterior back of your vehicle and have a rear-facing camera that records the road behind you. They are also sometimes called backup cameras because they are particularly helpful for seeing potential objects or dangers when driving in reverse.

Interior dash cams

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.

The 8 most important dash cam features for fleets

Once you’ve decided what type of dash cam best suits your needs, you’ll also need to consider the variety of features available from different vendors. Some features—like built-in driver coaching tools—are particularly important for fleets looking to use dash cams as part of a comprehensive fleet safety program.

Here are eight of the most important features to look for when selecting a dash cam solution for your fleet.

  1. Built-in AI features: Artificial intelligence (AI) is the cutting-edge of dash cam technology. AI dash cams use computer vision to analyze the road and driver behavior in real time—making it possible to detect distracted driving and warn drivers of an impending collision or unsafe following distance, helping prevent accidents before they happen.

  2. Internet connectivity: To ensure they don’t run out of space while continuously recording footage, most dash cams use loop recording—they overwrite older video files to continue recording new files. If your dash cam isn’t internet-connected, you will have to manually retrieve footage from the vehicle before it’s overwritten. Not only is this inconvenient—it also poses a security risk, since the footage is stored on a memory card that could be damaged during an accident. Internet-connected dash cams are more reliable and convenient. They can automatically upload safety-related event footage to the cloud, making it possible to coach and exonerate drivers in real time. Plus, fleet managers can use an online dashboard to request additional footage. 

  3. Automatic event detection: Make sure to choose a dash cam solution that connects to a telematics device with a built-in accelerometer and g-sensor for motion detection. This way, the system can detect safety-related events—like harsh braking, harsh turning, and collisions—and automatically send footage from before and after the incident to your safety team to review. 

  4. In-cab voice coaching: The best dash cams have a built-in audio speaker that can play in-cab messages for harsh events, speeding, and unbuckled seat belts—alerting drivers to potentially unsafe behavior in real time. Immediate feedback from in-cab voice coaching is proven to improve driver behavior and reduce preventable accidents.

  5. Streamlined coaching tools: When it comes to choosing the best dash cam, software is just as important as hardware. Look for a solution that helps you make sense of your raw data and footage—with tools that aggregate coachable events, make it easy to coach drivers with suggested scripts, and track safety trends and improvements over time.

  6. High quality video: Crisp video quality is critical when reviewing video footage. Look for a dash cam with a wide-angle lens (to ensure you have a good field of view) and high dynamic range (HDR) that offers 1080p full HD video. Look for ultra HD if you want video recordings that are clear enough to read license plates and detect whether drivers’ eyes are open or closed. 

  7. Low-light or night vision: If your drivers often operate at night, choosing a dash cam with low-light or night vision capabilities is extremely important. Look for a dash cam with HDR and infrared LED to ensure nighttime footage is still crisp and clear.

  8. Plug-and-play installation: Deploying dash cams in dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of vehicles is no easy feat—which is why choosing hardware that’s easy to install is so important. The best dash cams include an adhesive strip that easily attaches to your windshield, as well as an adjustable viewing angle for flexibility in different vehicles.

Are dash cams worth it for fleets? 4 reasons to make the investment

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%.

Here are four reasons why dash cams are worth the investment:

  1. Avoid false claims: Dash cams provide unbiased video evidence in case of an accident.This makes it easy to exonerate drivers from not-at-fault accidents, bypass lengthy claims processes, and eliminate unnecessary payouts. For example: Mitchell Companies experienced a 34% decrease in auto claims and saved an estimated $150,000 to $200,000 by exonerating drivers with Samsara AI dash cam footage.

  2. Decrease insurance costs: Because dash cams are proven to increase safety and mitigate risk, many insurance providers offer premium discounts, credits, or subsidies for installing dash cams and sharing safe driving data. For example: Simco Logistics received a 15% reduction in their insurance premium after installing Samsara’s dual-facing dash cams and demonstrating decreased liability with fewer harsh events and accidents over time.

  3. Reduce vehicle wear and tear: Harsh braking wears out brake pads and causes unnecessary stress on vehicles. Dash cams can play in-cab audio messages when harsh events are detected, helping to discourage harsh driving and reduce physical damage and maintenance costs. For example: Empress Ambulance Services used Samsara’s dual-facing AI dash cams, driver coaching tools, and maintenance workflows to save $15,000 per vehicle due to decreased out-of-service time.

  4. Minimize labor costs: It might be surprising, but dash cams can reduce labor costs in a few different ways: with data-driven driver safety scores and video footage, 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. For example: Dohrn Transfer Company saw a 10% increase in driver retention, ultimately avoiding $8,000 in recruitment and replacement costs per retained driver.

What is the best dash cam for fleets?

With so many options to choose from, what makes the best dash cams stand out from the rest? 

Thousands of fleets across the country trust Samsara AI dash cams to protect their drivers, company, and communities. As part of a complete driver safety platform, Samsara AI dash cams are proven to increase fleet safety and reduce accident-related costs. In fact, according to a recent survey of more than 500 customers: 

  • 9 out of 10 customers say Samsara has helped improve safety within their fleet.

  • 15% of Samsara dash cam customers have been able to reduce their insurance premiums.

  • Over 50% of 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.

Keep reading to learn why Samsara AI dash cams are one of the best options for fleets today.

Why Samsara AI dash cams?

Thousands of fleets across the country trust Samsara AI dash cams because they offer:

  • Both forward-facing and dual-facing options, so you can choose what works best for your company culture and safety program goals.

  • The highest quality camera technology, including a wide angle lens with full HD 1080p video and infrared LED for low-light recording and night vision.

  • Auto-uploaded event footage that is triggered by the connected telematics device, so you don’t have to sift through hours of footage to find what you need.

  • Optional in-cab alerts powered by a built-in audio speaker for hands-free, voice-based coaching that is proven to reduce high-risk driving behavior.

  • Driver coaching tools, including coaching scripts, reports, and trend analysis to help you track improvements over time.

  • Easy to use hardware that can be installed in a vehicle within minutes (no hardwiring into the electrical system necessary).

  • A complete platform for fleet management, so all of your safety, telematics, and compliance data is in one place.

Which Samsara AI dash cam is right for your fleet? Front-facing vs. dual-facing

Configuration

Image

Summary

Pricing

Samsara front-facing AI dash cam (CM31)

1080p front-facing camera lens. Records the road ahead. Great for fleets that want video evidence in case of an accident.

$299 plus $400 annual license. Get a free trial

Samsara dual-facing AI dash cam (CM32)

1080p front-facing camera lens, 720p driver-facing camera lens. Records the road ahead and the driver inside the cab. Great for fleets that want to build out a comprehensive, video-based fleet safety program.

$399 plus $600 annual license. Get a free trial

Get of free trial of Samsara AI dash cams

Samsara AI dash cams are trusted by thousands of fleets across the country, and 90% of customers say that Samsara has helped improve safety within their fleet. 

Try before you buy. Request a free trial of Samsara dash cams today and put your fleet on the road to a safer future.

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