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Revolutionizing Road Safety: The Vital Role of AI Dash Cameras for Truckers

October 26, 2023 | Andrew Santosusso | Dash Cameras Safety

The trucking industry has seen a transformative shift in recent years. AI technology is rapidly taking center stage as a solution to enhance commercial fleet safety. While truck drivers have been initially hesitant to embrace AI, the potential benefits for safeguarding lives on the road are undeniable.

Contrary to public perception, studies repeatedly show that in over 70% of accidents involving commercial vehicles and passenger cars, it’s the car driver who is at fault. Nevertheless, the margin for error on the road can be incredibly slim, especially when long-haul truck drivers cover an average of 125,000 miles annually, leaving a staggering 7.92 billion inches of road for something to go wrong.

The need for adhering to safety protocols cannot be overstated, not just for the well-being of truckers themselves but for the safety of their cargo and all others on the road. In response to this challenge, fleet managers are increasingly turning to an innovative solution that merges the power of AI technology with dashboard cameras and advanced fleet telematics.

A steady flow of semi trucks equipped with AI-enabled dash cams  on a busy interstate highway

AI’s Journey into Trucking

Initially, AI adoption was sluggish in an industry that predates even the concept of paved roads. But the tides are turning, and AI is gaining traction as a safety-enhancing tool for commercial fleets.

The integration of camera technology has gained significant momentum recently, particularly in the form of road-facing cameras (RFCs). Recent research, sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and led by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), indicates that RFCs rank second among a truck driver’s preferred in-cab technologies.

The resistance to in-cab cameras is understandable, as new image-based technologies often raise concerns regarding privacy and safety. However, education, clear privacy policies, reduced device costs, and robust legal precedents have swayed driver attitudes. They’ve come to appreciate that RFCs significantly enhance their safety on the road.

The Power of Technology in Enhancing Safety

The statistics speak for themselves when it comes to the impact of technology on driver safety. Research by the AAA Foundation suggests that video-based, onboard safety monitoring systems could potentially prevent tens of thousands of crashes, injuries, and deaths annually.

This is where an AI-powered Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) can help. Whether due to driver error or other external circumstances, dash cameras equipped with ADAS technologies are especially helpful for avoiding lane departures and rear-end crashes (particularly due to following too closely), which represent nearly half of all two-vehicle crashes. ADAS-equipped dash cameras alert drivers to impending danger, help maintain safe travel distances between vehicles, and warn drivers if they perform a high-risk maneuver such as a sudden lane change, harsh acceleration, or harsh braking event.

FleetCam Pro, for example, uses AI cameras and sensors to provide real-time alerts to drivers of potential dangers. ADAS continuously monitors the road ahead for a variety of events, including following distance warning, forward collision warning, lane departure, pedestrian alert, and rolling stop sign. According to a AAA report, lane departure warnings alone can prevent up to 6,372 crashes, 1,342 injuries and 115 fatalities each year. The remarkable number of lives saved demonstrates the profound effect of dash cameras on American roads. Looking forward, the infusion of next-generation AI technology holds even greater potential to further revolutionize road safety.

AI Driver-Facing Cameras: The Next Frontier

The future of road safety is now, thanks to AI-powered Driver-Facing Cameras (DFCs). While RFCs have undoubtedly improved safety, they don’t always suffice for proving a driver’s innocence in the event of an accident.

AI-driven DFCs add an extra layer of protection by capturing driver behaviors through a Driver Monitoring System (DMS) and identifying potentially risky behaviors. In the event of safety-critical incidents, drivers have invaluable video footage to support their actions moment by moment.

FleetCam Pro uses an audiovisual alert from the in-cab device when the DMS detects a unsafe driving event, such as cell phone usage or driver fatigue. While traditional fatigue detection relies on hours of service to identify potential issues, FleetCam Pro uses advanced eye-tracking technologies to monitor driver eye movements and gaze patterns, as well as facial recognition to identify head tilts. Research by the AAA Foundation indicates that driver-facing cameras with driver monitoring systems can save over 800 lives and prevent more than 25,000 injuries related to truck and bus accidents, annually, when combined with proper training.

AI-Informed Driver Coaching: A Positive Impact

Truck dash cameras with integrated AI sensors empower drivers with technology that enhances their safety on the road. AI-driven insights provide continuous feedback, contributing significantly to improved driver performance and safety compliance.

Fleet operators can then leverage these insights to develop tailored driver coaching programs, based on individual driver behaviors and road data. The benefits for fleets are numerous, including:

  • Reduced insurance premiums
  • Expedited claims processing
  • Lower damage payouts, supported by a wealth of information on driver safety practices.

Additionally, driver coaching apps such as DriveShield can leverage that wealth of driver behavior and safety data to automate much of the coaching process. DriveShield uses a Driver Scorecard to track the driver’s daily performance score. Drivers start the day with a score of 100, the system then measures the unwanted events generated each day and subtracts points from the daily score based on the severity of the event. This system empowers drivers to take control of their scorecard by letting them review their events and self-coach or dispute them, only involving fleet managers for more serious events or patterns of poor driving behaviors. 

This new era of data-driven insights and driver communication is a substantial step forward for the trucking industry. Fleets are safer, fleet managers uphold high safety standards, and drivers reap the benefits. Fleet managers must equip carriers with AI-powered dash cameras and educate drivers about the technology’s benefits. AI-powered dash cams play a crucial role in the puzzle of driver safety, alerting drivers to hazards, exonerating drivers from claims of negligence, and enhancing training and road safety. For drivers, the integration of AI is a significant victory on the road towards safer travels.