Behind the lens: 5 things AI dash cams can spot that drivers might miss

March 25, 2024

Jonathan Ramsey
Jonathan Ramsey

Product & Customer Marketing Manager


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Commercial drivers have to keep their eyes laser-focused on the road for hours at a time. But even the most attentive drivers can’t spot everything, and that means accidents can happen. 

AI dash cams can spot what drivers might miss. They’re an extra pair of eyes that are always working, rooting out potential risks and dangers before they escalate into real incidents. 

Let’s take a look behind the lens, and explore 5 things that Samsara’s AI dash cams can spot that drivers might miss. 

1. Distracted driving 

When you’re out on the road, distractions can happen in an instant. But taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds at 55 mph is equivalent to travelling the length of a football pitch without looking. Around 8% of fatal vehicle-related accidents involve distracted driving, so a virtual lookout that can see what you can’t is essential to protect your drivers and the public.

Basic in-cab cameras can help monitor driving behaviours, and are a great way to provide footage that managers can retroactively review post-shift back at the depot. Samsara’s AI dash cameras take this much further – and can detect and alert to distraction almost instantly, with in-cab alerts to recapture driver’s attention.

Here’s how they work: Samsara's cameras detect distracted driver behaviours like eating, drinking, or looking at their phone – which triggers an inattentive driving detection response. Samsara then plays an audible alert to the driver to prompt them to remove the distraction and put their focus back on the road. 

At the depot, managers can configure In-Cab Nudges™ when drivers exceed a set threshold of safety events within a certain time period. These events are sent to the Safety Inbox for review and further action. It’s an invaluable tool for follow-up training and coaching, as managers can quickly tick off the events that need a closer look and decide which events can be handled remotely or in a 1-1 coaching environment. 

While distractions are inevitable, Samsara’s AI cameras ensure that drivers learn from their mistakes and use them to build safe habits while out on the road. 

2. Tailgating 

A recent study revealed that 43% of UK motorists have been involved in a rear-end collision. The most common culprit? Excessive tailgating. While simple in-cab cameras can record tailgating events for later review, it’s unlikely that this basic monitoring will help the driver on the road – and in the moment it happens.

Samsara’s AI dash cams use a combination of distance estimation and current speed data to detect unsafe following behaviour like tailgating, in real-time. When the dash cam detects an unsafe following distance, the dash cam can play an optional in-cab audio alert to help notify drivers to back off and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. 

In Samsara, the threshold and alerts for these events can be fully customised, with email alerts, SMS notifications, and more. Plus, each unsafe Following Distance detection feeds into the overall safety score Samsara generates for each driver, so you can both alert drivers in real-time and coach them after an event occurs. 

While drivers can’t (and won’t) have a fleet manager beside them when they’re on the road, you can give them an extra safe pair of eyes to stop unnecessary tailgating with Samsara’s smart, AI dash cameras. 

3. Blind spots

In 2019, almost 4,000 cyclists and pedestrians were seriously injured or killed on Europe’s roads due to accidents involving HGVs. Blind spots can obscure risks and hazards — hiding them from the view of drivers. 

Today, most fleets utilise in-cab cameras and dash cams, which means drivers can get a better, more clearer view of what’s hidden. This is a good starting point, but these cameras still leave room for improvement, as hazards can still be missed through human error or adverse weather conditions that obscure the camera's field of view. 

To eliminate blind spots, drivers and fleet managers are best equipped by implementing Samsara’s HD Camera Connector, which can connect up to 4 high-definition third-party cameras for side, rear, or interior visibility. This integration with additional cameras can empower fleets and drivers with 360° vision around the perimeter of their vehicles. A greater field of vision significantly reduces the risk of incidents or near-misses as driver’s can’t react to, or avoid, a hazard if they can’t see it. 

4. No seatbelt 

The road casualty statistics for 2020 show that 23% of fatalities in reported road collisions were not wearing a seatbelt. It’s easy to be so wrapped up in the drive ahead that commercial drivers forget about the basics. Seat belts take mere seconds to put on, but they save lives.

Samsara’s AI cameras can automatically pick up on when a driver isn’t wearing a seatbelt, as soon as they set off. Straight away, Samsara can alert the driver to fasten their seatbelt. If they don’t, the system will send an additional two warnings to take action. After these warnings are ignored, giving the driver the opportunity to correct their actions first, the events are logged, stored, and classified across coaching workflows, safety reporting, and more – so managers can take appropriate action. 

Once again, the footage can be used to guide virtual or in-person coaching, and managers can review each event and send them directly to driver’s devices to remind them. It’s a simple yet  effective way to reinforce good habits so drivers are less likely to slip up again in the future. 

5. The facts

If one of your drivers is involved in a collision, it’s invaluable to have video evidence that documents every second. In the heat of the moment, your driver might not remember how an accident played out — or their recollection might be slightly fuzzy. 

While dash cams for recording incidents are commonplace in fleet vehicles, gathering, reviewing, and uploading the footage is slow, which can make insurance claims an annoying burden to deal with. 

Samsara’s dash cams simplify the process. By automatically capturing relevant footage in case of an incident, they ensure that every critical event is documented and promptly uploaded to the Samsara platform for seamless integration into existing workflows.

This helps expedite claims reporting significantly. The vehicle can either automatically capture and pre-populate the data required at the First Notice of Loss (FNOL) or the driver can complete the Electric Notice of Loss  (ENOL) through the driver app and even upload images of the event to make insurance claims faster and easier to complete. 

When used together, Samsara’s dash cams can be used to exonerate innocent drivers:

As a leading utilities customer shared with us “We recently had an issue where the driver was following another vehicle through a tunnel and the vehicle in front lost control. The video footage captured from Samsara clearly showed that it was not our driver’s fault.” 

As every critical event is captured, Samsara gives fleet managers the tools to exonerate innocent drivers and provide coaching so every driver can learn (and improve) from past incidents. 

Samsara: A video-based safety platform

AI dash cams are an incredibly useful tool for plugging security gaps, improving coaching, and giving your drivers an extra pair of eyes on the road when they need them the most. But only Samsara takes this technology a step further to introduce a culture of fleet safety for its customers. 

From in-cab assistance and coaching workflows to data-backed reporting and insights, Samsara offers a complete platform to power a video-based safety program that protects your best asset, your drivers. 

Watch this video to see how dash cams can empower drivers and enhance road safety.

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