Are On-Board Video Cameras the Answer to Reducing Fatal Truck Crashes?

For most of us, when we know we’re being watched, we’re on our best behavior. According to a new study, this is true for commercial truck drivers. But when truck drivers avoid negligent behavior, lives are saved.

The study was conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). Researchers installed an onboard video system in two fleets of trucks, which monitored drivers’ behavior. The cameras were activated only in response to a potentially dangerous occurrence, such as a sudden stop or swerve. Safety managers watching the videos noted drivers’ risky behaviors and counseled the offending drivers.

The study’s conclusions? On-board video systems like the one used in the study could cut fatal truck crashes caused by the drivers by 20 percent each year. That 20 percent equals 800 lives. Researchers also say that the number of injuries involved in commercial truck and bus crashes caused by the drivers could be reduced by 35 percent annually with a video monitoring system.

What’s important about this study is that it focused on driver behavior. Or more specifically, eliminating wrongful truck driver actions, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Texting and driving

On a related note, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a test of electronic driver logs. These devices automatically record when and for how long a truck is driven, as opposed to drivers recording the information by hand.

This study showed that trucks equipped with the electronic monitoring devices – those that weren’t dependent upon driver input – had an 11.7 percent overall lower crash rate and a 5.1 percent lower preventable crash rate.

Technology will always keep improving. But bottom line – with truck driver error the main cause for trucking accidents – it’s vital for truck drivers and truck companies to behave safely. If you or a family member has been the victim of a catastrophic accident caused by a commercial truck, consult an experienced attorney, who can hold the responsible parties accountable.