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.
Dash cams are discreet cameras that can be installed in or on a vehicle to capture footage of the road ahead, activity inside the cab or cargo hold, or even a 360° view of your vehicle and the surrounding road. The best dash cams are connected to a telematics solution with a g-sensor for motion detection, 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.
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%.
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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 features to consider.
Artificial intelligence: The most advanced dash cams 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 cams have a micro SD card or memory card that stores footage locally, but more advanced dash cams 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 cams 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 records. High quality forward-facing dash cams 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 can see. To ensure your dash cams capture a broad field of view, look for a wide angle or semi-wide angle lens.
Mounting: The two most popular ways to install dash cams are via a suction cup (or suction mount) or via adhesive. Some dash cams 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 cams 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 cams are optimized for capturing footage at night or in low-light conditions. If your drivers often operate at night, look for a dash cam with HDR—which optimizes for both bright and low-light conditions—or infrared LED, which is particularly important for capturing video footage of unlit cabs.