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Safety first: Are dashcams the answer?

Date: 01 November 2016

Dashcams have been discussed on several occasions over the past few months on and the cost benefits of fitting these cameras into cars are clear to see.

With the rising cost of insurance and 'cash for crash' crime, installing dashcams can be a good way for fleets to reduce their premiums - research suggests by up to 30% - as they can quickly prove who was at fault during an accident, thus minimising costly liability claims.

But leading providers also believe that having these cameras installed encourages safer driving behaviours.

"Just by placing the dashcam into the car has a noticeable difference on driving," says Nextbase director Richard Browning. "The responsibility is on the employee and employer to drive more safely, and fitting a dashcam helps to fulfil that."

The firm's dashcam records continuously, retaining up to 11 minutes of footage, which is saved to its SD card if either an accident or an incident of dangerous driving, such as swerving or hard braking, occurs

3 Nextbase DUO Back Main.

Browning adds that using windscreen stickers to showcase that a camera is fitted can also encourage safer driving among other road users too.

"We've found from customer feedback that actively advertising there is a camera on board not only improves the performance of the drivers but also of other road users. It can head off a lot of incidents before they happen."

Raj Singh, managing director of mobile and vehicle tracking specialists Crystal Ball, agrees and believes that companies need to consider how they best use the data provided from cameras to improve driver safety.

"There are bad and good apples in a barrel - only the bad apples worry about the cameras," he tells BusinessCar. "Fleets absolutely and categorically need to be more proactive and act on the information given to educate and train drivers."

In-car cameras will store the footage when an incident occurs. Alerts can then be sent out to fleet managers. If it's a recording of the accident itself, this footage can also be sent straight to insurance providers.

Nextbase 312GW Car Installation

Driving For Better Business campaign manager and ex-Royal Mail logistics safety director Melvyn Hodgetts also warns that fleets that are not turning to camera technology could be missing out on valuable knowledge that could help devise vehicle and driver management strategies.

"Managing fleet risk is a fundamental issue in our industry and companies need to ensure they action well-devised, multifaceted strategies," said Hodgetts at a recent event. "Telemetry systems, and cameras in particular, help support and enable this, providing insights that can help change driver behaviours for the better, reduce incident rates and associated losses, and prevent fraudulent claims. The more information a fleet manager has, the better they can manage their fleet, hence why those not looking at camera telemetry as an option could be missing a trick."

But with this data also comes responsibility, and Singh says that if companies fail to act on the data available to them they could put themselves at risk.

"If you know that an employee is excessively speeding or driving dangerously and haven't attempted to educate or discipline the driver as a result, and then an accident was to happen, you could be negligent," he states. "Saying you haven't seen or used the data available isn't going to wash legally when the data is available. You've got to act on the information or companies are at risk.

"Generally speaking, fleets see the insurance benefits of dashcams but sometimes fail to see the wider benefits," Singh continues. "Tracking systems are one thing, but cameras are a different ball game. Our system records driving incidents all the time and they are uplifted straight to our system, which can be acted upon straight away."

Being involved in an accident can be a very stressful time for any driver, but dashcams can quickly resolve claims, and Browning believes they also enable companies to support their drivers fully when an incident occurs.

"We've seen lots of 'crash for cash' crimes that have been disproved in favour of the driver and employees - a dashcam can protect against it. Some fleets will take employees off driving duties until claims are resolved, which can be very distressing for the driver. It can cause anxiety. I feel the employer has the responsibility to the employee to support them through that."

According to Nextbase, the average time from claim to payout is usually six weeks, but when cars are fitted with dashcams this can reduce to between six and seven days.

>> Nextbase, the UK's best-selling dashcam manufacturer, is giving away three of its 412GW cameras (worth £129) to BusinessCar readers. Click here to enter our competition.

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