With the growing spate of ‘crash for cash’ incidents, insurance fraud and high claims costs, dashboard cameras are a must-have for commercial fleets.
But choosing the best dash cam for your fleet can be an overwhelming process. There are no shortages of models, variations and features. This guide will help you narrow down your choices and let you know what to look out for.
To be installed, it has to meet the needs of the company and come at the right price. It also has to make the fleet manager’s role more efficient. Today’s fleet manager carries a great deal of responsibility and is often wearing multiple hats within the business. Vehicle technology that can support the fleet manager in running a safer and efficient fleet is a crucial investment.
Accessibility and security are key reasons why more fleets are choosing connected cameras over SD card cameras. The ability to get immediate alerts of an incident and view footage transmitted over a secure network is very important to modern fleets. In a dashcam solution, the interactions need to be truly simple and intuitive. Transport managers don’t want to be riddled with extra features that they never use.
To do its job, a dashcam has to be reliable and capture the video when an incident occurs. It needs a track record of reliability in its sensors. To be useful for insurance purposes, a dash cam needs to capture HD footage and show clearly what happened, when and where. Seeing exactly what happened changes how the evidence is accepted and believed.
In this Guide:
What is a Dashcam?
Dash cams are often also referred to as dashboard cameras, truck dash cams, driving recorders, event data recorder (EDR). The definition of a dash cam is an in-vehicle camera that continuously records the view through a vehicle’s front windscreen. Some dashcams include a second camera or several cameras to record the vehicle’s rear view and/or the driver.
Types of Dash Cams and What to Know
The best dash cam for you depends on the needs of your fleet. Here are some of the types of dashcams and what you need to know.
There are two main types of dash cam systems: SD card-based cameras and network-connected cameras.
SD card-based cameras store footage on a local SD card with no wireless connectivity to upload data. SD cameras require manual intervention and can be an operational burden for larger fleets. To access footage, the Fleet Manager or driver has to physically retrieve the SD card from the camera, plug it into a computer to download the footage and reinstall the card to continue recording. Despite best efforts, cards can be lost or damaged during this process. In general, SD card cameras also have less reliable hardware.
Connected cameras are unique because they are connected through the cellular networks and upload relevant video and supporting data wirelessly to the cloud. Similar to your cell phone, connected cameras use the cellular network to upload data, which gives you instant access to video and telematics information. Network-connected dash cameras are always working for you and automatically alert you about driving incidents as soon as they occur. This means your drivers won’t have to incorporate anything new into their daily routines or worry about managing an in-cab camera.
It’s also important to note the difference between network-connected dash cams and Wi-Fi-connected dash cams. Network-connected cameras transfer data over the cell network, so you don’t have to be connected to the internet or a hotspot to upload your videos. Whereas Wi-Fi-connected cameras must be connected to the internet in order to upload footage. In most instances, when vendors use the term “connected cameras”, they are referring to network-connected cameras.
Though both SD and connected dash cams can be helpful in the insurance claims process, connected dash cams have the advantage of allowing you to get out in front of the claims process more quickly than systems using SD storage. Since wireless dash cams are connected to the cellular network, you can have video and data within seconds. In the event of an incident, wireless systems give you the ability to get the footage you need right away. Incidents captured by SD camera systems must first be downloaded and reviewed, which can take anywhere from 12-24 hours. Connected cams give you the chance to resolve false claims fast.
If an incident does occur, it’s vital that your dash cam system provides clear footage. Since SD cameras rely on physical media, there is a limited amount of data storage available. When you’re working with limited storage, you end up compromising on either video quality or video quantity. This means that if you choose to record a driver’s full route, image quality may suffer. But if you choose better image quality, you may not be able to record his or her entire shift. Connected dash cameras have the potential to offer you as much storage as you need, since this type of system uses cloud-based storage.
In addition to providing reliable incident footage, connected cams give you the chance to be proactive about driver safety. Network-connected dash cams incorporate an accelerometer, which lets you set custom triggers that detect risky driving. You can get relevant, timely notifications about the harsh driving behaviors that matter to you. Fully-managed SD camera solutions simply aren’t able to match the immediacy of connected cams. With connected cams, the accelerometer does the work for you, automatically sending you just the relevant footage.
External Cameras vs. Internal Cameras vs. Front-Facing vs. Dual-Facing vs. Camera Multi-Cam
Once you’ve chosen the type of storage that’s best for your fleet, you have another important choice to make. What type of footage will be most useful to you? External, internal, front-facing, dual-facing, in-cab? Each type of camera provides you with its own unique set of benefits. Internal cameras can be front-facing only, or dual-facing. Front-facing cameras do just that: face the front. They record whatever happens to be in front of the vehicles. Dual-facing cameras incorporate both a front-facing camera and an in-cab camera. In-cab cameras record visual and audio from the interior of the driver’s cab. The installation of internal cameras has been shown to reduce risky driver behaviors dramatically.
External cameras can be mounted in many different areas on trucks, but the most popular type of external camera is the reverse view camera. This type of visual can help drivers increase accuracy and avoid damage when reversing. It can also provide valuable proof in the event of an incident. Some companies, including SureCam, are developing solutions for exterior multi-cam systems that can be incorporated into existing camera systems.
Should my Fleet have Dash Cams?
Yes – most fleets should. The average return easily outweighs the cost across fleets. Below is a short-list of some of the benefits.
Dash Cam Benefits
- Reduce insurance claims and drive down insurance premium costs
- Manage First Notification of Loss (FNOL)
- Acknowledge good drivers for good road awareness
- Exonerate drivers after an incident
- Supplement telematics data for a safety incentive program or driver scorecard program
- Coach drivers to mitigate risky behaviours
- Recognise hazardous road conditions or risky routes and delivery locations
- Spot check new drivers to ensure they meet your company’s standards
- Enforce seatbelt and mobile phone usage compliance
How Do Connected Dash Cams Work?
Connected dashcams can be used across all vehicle types from HGVs to LCVs including lorries, trucks, buses, cars and vans.
The SureCam connected dashcam solution has the capability to continuously record while also triggering event videos. The built-in accelerometer is constantly recording g-force levels and when the pre-set thresholds are breached, an event is triggered. The camera automatically captures a HD snippet of video for 5 seconds leading up to the incident and 10 seconds after the incident. The video is uploaded to the SureCam server along with any accompanying data, this is then available to view in the SureCam platform moments after the trigger.
How Do Connected Dashcams Integrate with GPS Tracking and Fleet Management Providers?
Telematics can transform a fleet’s operations but when you combine telematics with dash cams, the results are even more powerful.
Telematics work hand-in-hand with cameras to give you the advanced insights into driver behaviour and vehicle usage. The combined telematics and camera data allow you to create driver scorecards, automatic reports and set custom triggers. The camera’s customisable trigger settings work with telematics systems to provide advanced crash detection and event filtering.
If you need to take advantage of these sophisticated features or performance tools, it is essential that you select a camera provider who can integrate with your current telematics platform. Some dash cam providers may not dedicate the time and expense to developing multiple telematics integrations, instead opting to force clients into their native telematics platform. If the potential dash cam provider does not integrate with your current or planned telematics system, you should consider alternate dash cam providers. Some providers have open APIs that will allow you to integrate with any system you desire. Make sure you understand what that process will look like and how long it will take before you sign a contract.
What Partners does SureCam Integrate With?
SureCam offers an integrated video and tracking platform, which includes essential telematics features combined with the power of video evidence. Through our open-API, SureCam is also a preferred video partner for many of the world’s leading telematics providers.
- Verizon Connect
A View Into Dashcam ROI
Dashcams deliver real cost savings:
Fleets are realising the tangible benefits of dashcams particularly when it comes to reducing insurance costs. SureCam customers have consistently seen a reduction in driving incidents and in their claims cost just by installing dashcams.
We recently conducted a comparison study with the claims management firm, Plexus law. It showed that the average claims cost was twice as high for vehicles without cameras, compared to vehicles equipped with cameras.
The illustration below is based on the results of our research and our work with fleets of various sizes. We show how a 20-vehicle fleet can save over £10,000 in their annual claims cost by using connected dash cams:
Dashcam Features to Consider
Focusing on the features you need will keep you from paying for extras you’ll never use. These are the common features you’ll need to decide on when choosing a dash cam:
SD Card-Only vs. Network-Connected:
Most retail dash cams are SD card-based, where all the footage is stored locally on the device. SD-based cameras typically require fleet operators to manually download footage, or even physically remove SD cards to review videos. SD-based cameras are a cheaper option, but the operational costs and challenges add up when you factor in the manual work. Network-connected cameras use a cellular network to upload footage. In SureCam’s case, this gives fleet operators real-time notifications and visibility. Connected cameras are better suited for commercial fleets and include a monthly subscription to support video transmission and software.
Road-Facing or Dual-Facing:
Depending on your reasons for installing cameras, you may want a camera that only faces the road, or you may want a secondary camera that faces inside the cab. Decide if you believe footage inside the cab would be helpful for your fleet. Some connected-cameras come standard as a dual-facing camera and give you the option to turn off the inward facing camera. With SureCam, we give you the choice between road-facing or dual-facing, to ensure you only pay for the cameras you use.
Make sure the cameras you invest in have high quality footage. For example, SureCam’s hardware is German designed and manufactured, and is equipped with full HD (720p), 30 frames per second, and an IP69 rating. You should also make sure that the hardware won’t be easily damaged by water or dust. It’s critical to have rugged, high quality hardware because vehicle cameras take a beating from vibrations and sun exposure. In addition to SureCam’s hardware being German-made, it’s also been tested over time to last through the conditions of being on the road.
Web Application and Ease of Use:
If you select a network-connected camera solution, the software or web application should be straightforward and easy to use. It’s important to make sure that the web application will be accessible for everyone on your team who will need access to your camera solution and videos. Be sure to understand if the web application provides you with the features you need, without limiting your access to important information. Can you adjust camera settings without calling an account manager? Can you access video and analytics anytime, anywhere?
The installation process is an important factor to consider. Keeping your vehicles on the road is critical to your business, and complicated installations can equate to lost profit. Ask each camera provider about their installation process, whether it requires professional installation or can be self-installed, and how long the installation takes.
Do you want to record audio along with the video you capture? Some vehicle camera solutions allow for audio to be configured based on each fleet’s needs. If audio is important to you, make sure that the camera solution you invest in will be able to meet your requirements.
Self-Managed Vs. Fully-Managed Service:
Some video safety solutions require that your fleet use their fully-managed service, where the provider is reviewing and producing feedback for every video. SureCam offers fleets the choice between a self-managed and fully-managed service. Ask whether the added cost of a fully-managed service is worth it for your fleet. If it is, determine whether that managed-service is accomplishing what you need it to. For SureCam fleets that choose our self-managed solution, we let our technology do the heavy lifting, and provide customers with a simple and cost-effective solution.
Speed, GPS position, and g-force data can be valuable pieces of information for your fleet. Make sure you understand what supporting information your camera solution will provide before you sign your contract.
HD Dashcams – The Evidence You Can See
SureCam is the first UK company to launch HD dashcams. High definition video quality is particularly important when it comes to insurance claims. Other solutions provide grainy video that can lead to increased scrutiny, interpretation or potentially inconclusive proof. HD video looks like real-life and is quickly taken as fact by your insurer.
With investing in camera hardware and implementation to protect drivers and keep costs down, HD video quality should be a key requirement. A critical component of video quality is the frames per second (fps) that the device is capturing images. SureCam’s device captures videos at 25 fps, which allows you to see important details like road signs and license plates.
Dashcam Installation – An Over-Looked but Important Consideration
SureCam’s mount and installation process eliminates common problems of dashcam solutions
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the installation process, what’s involved and how long it will take. You want to limit vehicle down-time but it’s important that your dashcam is set up correctly, so you don’t miss out on important footage if an incident occurs.
Fleet vehicle cameras should be professionally fitted using the right mounts and positioned to get the best viewing angle. If you don’t have the in-house capabilities to install a dashcam, most vendors offer this as part of their service.
SureCam uses FITAS qualified engineers to install your connected dashcam for a seamless and more reliable integration.
Selecting a Pricing or Financing Model
Price is a common concern when choosing a dash cam solution. There are two pricing models for connected dash cams: equipment leasing, and equipment purchase. Both of these pricing models also have a recurring monthly fee for the software service.
Under the lease model, the upfront hardware cost is eliminated, and fleets pay a monthly fee that includes both the hardware and software fees. By leasing the hardware, you can get the technology you really need, even if you don’t have room in your current budget for a large purchase order. These options also provide more flexibility and better cash flow management.
The second pricing model is an upfront equipment purchase. Under this model, fleets purchase their cameras upfront and have lower monthly payments that includes the software service fee only.
With both models there might be additional installation costs if you don’t have the in-house capabilities to do a self-install.
Making the Case for Dash Cams to Your Leadership Team
Getting investment for new vehicle technology is always a big decision. You understand the benefits of a connected camera solution, now the challenge is to demonstrate the need to senior management.
The first step to getting support from senior management is to get on the same page as early as you can. Have a conversation with your owners, find out what their short- and long-term business objectives are and make them aware that you are researching connected dash cams.
After you’ve done your research and decided on a product and vendor that you think is best, it’s time to get final buy-in from the decision-makers. Here are three tips to help in that conversation:
• Calculate the Return on Investment (ROI):
There are many benefits to connected dash cams. Your leaders want a safer fleet, fewer incidents, and happier drivers, but they also need to protect the profitability of the business. Make sure that you understand what the ROI of a new dash cam system will be before you present it to your leaders. Most vendors have an ROI calculator they can use to help you with this.
• Anticipate Questions and Objections:
Connected dash cams can be a large investment for some fleets. It’s natural that your fleet owner, leadership team, or even your drivers may have questions and objections. Be prepared for these by doing as much research as you can prior to meeting with your team. Your dashcam vendor should be able to help you identify common questions and find the answers you need.
One more thing that you may want to research before your meeting with the leadership team is the success of other technology systems your fleet has already purchased. Pull as many reports as you can to help demonstrate how successful these technologies have been and to highlight why dash cams are still necessary.
• Leverage the Vendor:
Most vendors are happy to support you when you present their product to your fleet owner. Would it be helpful to do a second software demo for your fleet owner? Ask the vendor to provide one. Does your CFO or owner need more detailed information on payment, financing, or leasing options? Most vendors are happy to send a highly detailed quote or other documentation. Leverage your vendor as much as possible during this process.
Checklist: How to Choose the Right Dash Cam Solution?
This checklist will help to steer you in the right direction when researching options for fleet dashcams:
Dashcam Frequently Asked Questions
Will our insurance premiums go down?
Some insurance providers offer discounts for installing a camera system. It is best to check with your insurance provider for more information. Many SureCam customers experience a reduction in premiums as a result of improved safety, incident frequency, and over claims costs.
How to make the dashcam case to drivers?
Honesty is the best policy when introducing dash cameras into your fleet. Consider holding an all staff meeting to review topics such as the installation process, how footage is collected and stored, and why you chose to invest in this technology. We find that drivers are usually on board once they learn more about the product. Read below for more simple ways to get driver buy-in: How to Get Driver Buy In
Is it the right time to invest in camera technology?
If you have been considering investing in dash cameras for your fleet, you’re not alone. Keeping up with new technology trends is a very important part of staying up to date in the transportation industry. Click here for more information about investing in camera technology to find out what is right for your business: Investing in Camera Technology
How do I get driver buy in?
Many fleet managers wonder how to introduce cameras to their fleet without upsetting their drivers. Fortunately, we find most drivers easily get on board when they find out how this technology can benefit them. Read more here about ways to get driver buy-in: How to Get Driver Buy In
What is a connected camera?
Connected cameras are a valuable incident reduction tool for fleet operators. There are several different kinds of cameras to consider such as forward-facing, cabin-facing, and dual-facing cameras. Each of these can provide different benefits for your fleet.
The main difference exists in how the information is stored. SureCam connected cameras have cloud connectivity, allowing for ease of notification and storage as opposed to other SD card cameras. You can read more about connected cameras here and see how they have helped other fleets here: What is a Connected Camera? , Accident Reduction Case Studies
Will my drivers quit?
Many fleet managers worry about their drivers reacting negatively to dash camera technology. Fortunately, SureCam generally sees positive reactions. We have found that most drivers easily get on board when they see all the ways cameras can benefit them. Read more about bringing new technology into your fleet here: Will My Drivers Quit?
Can cameras improve driver retention?
Connected cameras are not only useful for reducing false accident claims, but they can also be a useful tool to help retain your employees. For example, the footage can be used for rewarding safe driving behavior, setting up incentive programs, and professional driver development. Read more below for other ways cameras can help retain and motivate drivers: How to Improve Driver Retention
How do dashcams improve driver coaching?
Our real-time cloud connectivity gives you quick access to incident footage. This means you have nearly instant access to positive and negative driving events that you can review with your team to help promote best practice driving behaviors and stop accidents before they occur. Read more here for how to use video from your connected camera to help your fleet: Improve Driver Coaching
How can I learn more about features?
Connected camera features will vary by camera type and provider, so it is important to look into what features will be most helpful for your business. The SureCam team has a 9-point checklist to help you determine what connected cameras will offer the biggest return for you: Truck Dash Cam Features Checklist
How much do cameras cost?
SureCam offers a competitive pricing package making connected camera technology accessible for fleets from 5 to 5000. More specific details about pricing will vary based on your individual technology package. Get in touch with a SureCam representative today to learn more and find a deal that works for you. Get Pricing or call SureCam at +44 (0)845 548 5447.
What is the installation process like?
SureCam offers a simple three-wire installation process and our cameras come equipped with commercial grade window adhesive to make installation quick and easy. You will just need to secure any loose wiring and you can be on your way. If you prefer to leave the installation up to professionals, SureCam has a network of professional installers and can help you through the entire process.
Will I have a live view of my drivers?
SureCam offers custom trigger notifications that allow you to cut through hours of unnecessary footage and receive only the information that you will find useful. To learn more about the specific kinds of fleet monitoring available, read more here: Everything You Need to Know About Fleet Monitoring
Do I need to purchase a GPS tracking solution through SureCam for my cameras to work?
SureCam does not require access to ODB ports and will not interfere with existing GPS tracking solutions or telematics equipment.
Who is able to see the footage?
With most connected dashcams, access to the secure server is restricted, so viewing of any footage is limited to an authorised list of personnel.
Do dashcams have to be Transport for London (TFL) approved?
If you operate a taxi fleet in London or manage Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) then you will need a TFL-approved dashcam. SureCam cameras have been approved by TFL and this information can be found on the TFL website.
Does GDPR apply to dashcams?
Fleet Management Trends To Watch In 2020
Something important to consider when choosing a connected dash camera solution is to think about how your technology package will fit in, stay compliant with, and help you stay on top of upcoming industry developments. A few of the trends expected to hit the industry in 2020 include:
- Recruitment Efforts for the Driver Shortage
- Increased Freight Services Demand
- Data Handling Updates
- HOS Changes
Be sure to read up on industry developments and have a conversation with your camera provider about their technology to help you make an informed decision about the options that will best serve your fleet.
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SureCam: A Truck Dashcam Case Study
Improving Safety and Reductions in Claims Cost
In just 6 months from implementing SureCam, Krispy Kreme saw incidents drop by 85% and claims cost reduced by over 40%.
Krispy Kreme UK is the subsidiary of global doughnut company and coffeehouse chain Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. The company makes its doughnuts fresh every day at its network of Hot light stores and delivers to a wide range of coffee bars, kiosks and self-serve cabinets across the country each morning.
Krispy Kreme was already using vehicle tracking to monitor driver performance, including speeding and harsh driving events such as acceleration, deceleration and cornering, but was looking for a vehicle camera to complement and enhance the telematics system. It wanted to capture HD video footage and supporting vehicle data for all road collisions, near misses and harsh driving events in order to gain evidence of what really happened and take control of the claims handling process.
Krispy Kreme partnered with SureCam to develop and implement an advanced driver behaviour improvement system. This included installing the SureCam forward-facing camera within Krispy Kreme’s entire UK delivery operation. This fleet is responsible for delivering fresh doughnuts to hundreds of outlets across the UK each day. Initially, Krispy Kreme was considering a standard SD card solution but following a detailed review of the marketplace chose a network-connected camera.
The SureCam solution would allow Krispy Kreme to receive footage with live alerts, remotely configure and manage devices and access harsh driving footage anywhere, anytime. Krispy Kreme’s implementation included a four-week trial period, which enabled the company to measure the effectiveness of SureCam cameras.
SureCam cameras provide complete visibility of all collisions and driving incidents across the fleet via an online portal, and real-time notification. Krispy Kreme’s fleet operations and safety team have real-time visibility through email, screen pop up and SMS notifications.
Krispy Kreme can now monitor its entire fleet, which operates nationally from 11 hubs from its head office in Camberley, Surrey. As a result, the company has immediate access to video footage and important vehicle data to support its driver training program, defend against fraudulent insurance claims and significantly reduce claims costs.
• 100% real-time visibility of all collisions and harsh driving events
— Ben Povey, Logistics Manager at Krispy Kreme UK Ltd