5 things to know before buying fleet dash cameras
Published on November 9, 2021
Dashcams are becoming increasingly popular due to the number of benefits they provide corporate fleets and drivers alike. If you’re thinking about outfitting your fleet with dashcams, you’ve come to the right place! Whether you operate a transport company, delivery service, or a public works department, dashboard cameras give you a second set of eyes on the road. While most of us consider ourselves to be safe drivers, we can’t control the actions of other individuals. Accidents happen and can lead to costly liability claims. Arming your fleet with dashcams helps capture the whole story – the more information the better!
So, what exactly is a dash camera anyway? A dashcam is a recording camera that attaches to the inside of a vehicle’s dashboard or windshield It records what’s happening outside of the vehicle and in some cases, inside the vehicle too. One of the major benefits of using a dashcam is the ability to provide evidence for lawful or insurance purposes. If an accident occurs, or you’re exposed to a criminal act inside or outside your vehicle, you can collect video footage of the incident. A lot of our customers also use dashcams for assessing driver performance to help boost fleet safety.
Not all dash cameras are made equally. With hundreds of brands and countless options available, shopping for the right camera system can be overwhelming. A dash camera for a car may not need all the capabilities needed in a dashcam made for commercial trucks. For that reason, there are several key things you should consider when selecting the right dashcam solution for your fleet.
Most people don’t think about the inside of a vehicle as a harsh environment. If you pause to consider the conditions for a moment, you’ll realize why your dashcam must be manufactured with automotive-grade components. Over its lifetime, your dashcam will be exposed to dusty, dirty conditions coupled with constant vibration and extreme temperature changes. We expect these cameras to remain functional to bear witness through traumatic events like motor vehicle accidents. A dashcam built for personal use won’t cut it in rugged, commercial, or industrial environments.
Many commercial dashcam solutions can monitor much more than what you see through the front window. When considering a dashboard camera solution, it’s important to look at all the angles. Some camera solutions allow you to add additional accessory cameras and/or sensors etc. Most commercial camera providers offer dashcams with dual-vision capability – both front-facing and cab-facing lenses. As technology advances, new dashcam solutions even have built-in AI (Artificial Intelligence) to help decrease distracted driving. And if that’s not enough, certain dashcams offer options to expand your view with side and rear mount cameras. This gives operators and system administrators a 360-degree view of the vehicle. Other options include cargo compartment dome cameras to help mitigate damage claims and theft prevention. Understanding your current and future needs will empower you to select the best dashcam system. You want to select one that not only meets your current requirements but also gives you the flexibility for future expansion.
3. Driver coaching & safety
Driver safety is top of mind for most organizations with fleet vehicles. Many dashcam solutions offer cab-facing cameras while others even offer AI capabilities. Cab-facing, or driver-facing, cameras monitor and record the driver and/or the passenger’s activities. These dual-vision dashcams are especially beneficial for detecting driver distractions and unsafe behaviours. AI-enabled dashcams can detect driver fatigue, cell phone use, looking away, and seatbelt use. And it doesn’t stop there. AI forward-facing dashcams can also detect lane departure, tailgating and pedestrians. Based on the activity, the dashcam can trigger a warning and alert the driver. Combining dashcam video with telematics supported data like speeding, harsh braking/cornering generates a comprehensive driver safety scorecard. Outfitting your fleet with dashcams paired with telematics makes for a powerful driver coaching tool.
4. Memory/storage capacity:
When shopping for a dashcam solution, some people make the mistake of thinking they’re the same as CCTV systems. And they’re not. Dashcams are intended to capture and report short, event-based video clips whereas CCTV cameras stream continuously. Unlike CCTV systems, which are typically connected to your home or office’s network infrastructure, dashcams are used remotely – like your mobile phone. Just imagine what continuously streaming a live video feed would do to your data charges. Yikes!
But cases do arise where collecting continuous video footage is needed. For this reason, dashcams must be equipped with the capacity to store the recordings locally for ad hoc video retrieval. This is achieved by custom OTA (Over the Air) time-based queries or using removable SD cards. Just like the dashcam itself, SD (Secure Digital) cards need to meet durability standards for automotive-grade electronics to perform under rigorous conditions.
Many dashcams in the market also take advantage of loop recording. Loop recording refers to the camera’s ability to record video until the SD card’s memory capacity is reached, then auto rewrites over the oldest files. This ensures the most recent activity is recorded and accessible on the SD card. And just like dashcams, not all SD cards are created equal – and they don’t last forever. Depending on the manufacturer and quality, SD cards have a limited number of read/write cycles before they need replacing. In our experience, you want to replace your fleet’s dashcam SD cards every two years. A vehicle’s Hours of Service (HOS), number of cameras, accessories and the video quality setting will dramatically impact the SD card’s lifespan. It’s important to manually test your cameras and SD cards on a regular basis to confirm critical video is available when needed. A select few dashcam solutions, like the Rosco Vision dashcam, offer a camera health report to highlight inactive/problematic dashcams across the fleet.
5. Buffered parking mode:
If you’re concerned about theft, a dashcam with a parking mode feature is a must. Many premium vehicle camera solutions continue to protect your investments and mitigate risk even after the ignition has been turned off. Dashcams that come equipped with a buffered parking mode, continue to record for hours or days while the vehicle is parked. Some cameras will even highlight and archive event-based video clips such as a hit and run or vehicle break-in. In buffered parking mode, the dashcam will sense the event, store the footage, and forward a recording of what happened before and after the suspicious activity was triggered. Such event-based clip recordings have been used to assist in countless investigations.
Selecting the best vehicle dashcam solution for your fleet isn’t easy. These systems are much more complex than you’d expect. Before investing in a dashcam solution, be sure to consider the environment it will be used in. There are a wide variety of fleet dashboard cameras on the market, so it’s important to have a well-defined understanding of what you want to achieve with the solution. A dash camera system will only add value when it’s functioning properly and capturing the info you need. We hope you never have to retrieve video footage from a traumatic event or exonerate one of your drivers from a liability case, however, if you do, you’ll have the footage you need.
If you want to know how a dashcam solution can benefit your fleet, contact Northern BI today. Large and small fleets rely on our Rosco Vision dashcam solution to help increase safety and mitigate risk.