Why Fleet Drivers Balk at In-Cab Camera Technology—and How to Improve Perceptions
July 27, 2022 – Fleet managers now have access to GPS-based telematics and in-cab driver assistance technology that is often paired with in-cab dash cameras—all of which can keep drivers and the public safe. Managers can’t always be in the cab, but now they always have a digital set of eyes on their drivers to help prevent crashes. A problem, however, is many drivers, and even some managers, are critical of the technologies, significantly impacting adoption and use, according to a recent panel discussion during the Together for Safer Roads (TSR)’s recent second annual Vision Zero Fleet Forum.
“Crashes are too frequent, and evidence suggests they are on the rise—there are many red flags,” said panelist Brian Whitaker, cofounder and director of Immersive Learning at Qworky, which focuses on safety-sensitive industries using a systems-orientated approach. “Telematics has been in our lives for the better part of a decade, and we’re beginning to understand that a viable way to tackle driver safety is with driver assistance technology. When it’s paired with in-cab cameras, it provides fleet managers with powerful information to coach previously hard-to-detect behaviors, such as cell phone usage. It also identifies safe, proactive behaviors behind the wheel so that they can respond with positive feedback.”
Research developed and released by Qworky and TSR in a new white paper discusses drivers’ attitudes toward vehicle safety technology and how to implement the technology.
As some drivers and fleet managers are critical of the technology, the white paper’s research conducted a survey and interview process of professional drivers to examine the differences in attitudes toward the technologies and, specifically, driver-facing dash cams.
“We wanted to find out where the sensitivities were, and we uncovered a lot of insights,” Whitaker said. He highlighted the study’s top three findings.
1. From a community perspective, research shows in-cab technology improves safety, according to driver responses. Not only do fleet drivers value the technology in their cabs, but those experiences are carrying over to safety practices in their personal vehicles.
2. Fleet driver trust increases with personal experience. “There appears to be a period prior to installation where there’s a ‘Big Brother’ concern—which is a valid feeling,” Whitaker explained. However, once they have some time to adjust to it and learn the benefits of the technology, those concerns become minimized. The main issues for drivers who don’t have that technology experience is that they don’t want to be monitored, as well as concerns the data might be shared. “Once they use it, however, they begin to see its benefits.”
3. Management can take key steps toward the acceleration and adoption of the technology. “It begins with transparent conversations prior to—and during and after—installation of the technology. “It needs to be constant in order to drive a safety culture—it opens the door to the technology.”
Implement Clear and Concise Policies
From the start, Whitaker advised that fleet managers must have clear and concise policies so that drivers’ issues are addressed with respect to their privacy. “Before managers are even shopping for vendors, they must make sure their drivers are informed that cameras will be used before they are installed. It’s also extremely important to indicate how the data is going to be used, who is going to see it and the consequences of behavior they don’t want to see—there’s an interpersonal aspect to this, as well as a policy, program and communications aspect.”
Lessons Learned in the Field
Terrance York, division manager for Houston’s fleet department, oversees the fleet’s rideshare program and is the safety coordinator. His fleet has telematic devices installed, but not yet in-cab cameras yet. He said his biggest concern and a constant complaint among his drivers is that they’re being monitored with telematics.
York’s department began to track and monitor driver behavior to show telematics’ value to the organization and change its culture. One of the main concerns was speeding, which he said is one of the leading contributors to accidents.
“With our program today, we can see where violations occur and the frequencies, which allows us to have conversations with those individuals responsible for the infractions,” he said. “Why we’ve been successful is because we’ve partnered with our human resources department to get the message out to drivers prior to implementation.”
York explained that they created a tier structure—not to be punitive—but to begin a dialogue with drivers who are in violation so they can begin to change behavior and, ultimately, the culture over time.
William Jett, fleet manager for GrowNYC, who focuses on developing its driver safety program, has both telematics and dash cameras in his fleet’s vehicles, though there had been challenges during the launching process.
“In working with these technologies, we were an example of what could go wrong if implementation is rushed,” he said. “We were under significant pressure by insurance premiums that were going through the roof and we were about to lose the insurance, which would have been devastating.”
Originally, it had been decided that in-cab cameras would not be installed. However, as they were in the process of installing other camera technology, GrowNYC was confronted by two “serious” collisions. “We only saw what happened from a road-camera perspective [using telematics] and upper management decided it needed to see what was going on in the cab, too.”
Before they did so, however, GrowNYC held a drivers’ meeting, where drivers expressed concerns about invasion of privacy, which resulted in a pause of activating the in-cab cameras, though they had been installed.
Telematics that deploy automated notifications of speeding also “unnerved” some of his fleet drivers. “We should have approached it more gradually with the implementation of certain features—it been a growing and learning experience. Now we’re more comfortable with the in-cab cameras and telematic technologies, and we’re more focused on rewarding good behavior.”
“We felt pressure because of the number of collisions and insurance, and to begin training. We never had a fleet safety culture before and it was all new—so we developed documents to explain the technology and were transparent in our efforts, including how it would be used and who has access to the data collected.”
Dave Cassie, senior manager for, Industry Segments in Transformation at T-Mobile, specializes in telematics and works with municipalities and fleets for efficiency and driver safety. Cassie said T-Mobile has a host of best-in-class solutions that focus on both traditional telematics and in-cab dash cameras.
“We try to build a culture of the ‘why’ behind the implementation and the safety aspect. The most successful implementations are ones where proof of concepts, or trials, are launched prior to a full-blown deployment.”
Cassie noted it’s important that rules and success criteria are outlined so that drivers understand what metrics are considered. “Ten years ago, we were having the same conversations on telematics that we’re having today with video. To me, it’s the same adoption level—in-cab cameras are new, especially in the municipal space. It’s a matter of getting over the hurdle of new technology: what does it do and how can it help? It’s the old ‘carrot and stick’ approach, and the carrot is always the best way to do it, especially rewarding drivers when the technology is new.”
Adoption Rates are ‘Spiking’
Another benefit of telematics and in-cab cameras for drivers is exoneration in collision cases that, if there was no data, they might not have been. According to the white paper, one out of every five drivers are exonerated because of the technology.
“It provides a whole other level of positivity in terms of a driver being grateful for the technology,” Whitaker said. “It also has a financial impact, because it significantly reduces insurance payouts—we’ve seen more than 50 percent reduction in insurance claims. Adoption rates for in-cab cams are starting to spike.”