Commercial Automobile Technology Spotlight: Dash Cameras

The commercial auto industry has seen a significant increase in the number of large claims that has resulted in a direct effect on insurance prices and other expenses for businesses. Recent articles such as America’s Truckers Embrace Big Brother After Costing Insurers Millions by the Wall Street Journal and Commercial auto puts brakes on insurers profits by Business Insurance have addressed the growing concerns in the commercial auto industry.

What are driving these results? Certain factors are contributing to this including distracted driving and investor funded litigation.

Distracted Driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) distracting driving, which includes everything from texting on a cell phone, to using a navigation system, to eating while driving, is to blame for more than 3,000 deaths per year. Another 400,000 people are injured each year because of distracted driving accidents, with 15 percent of those being commercial motor vehicle accidents.

Investor Funded Litigation

Over the past two years, more attention has been drawn to this issue from the industry and media. In Investor Financed Plaintiff Litigation, finance companies make upfront payment to the plaintiff, including legal costs and medical treatment. The finance company generally charges high rates (debt and/or equity), and the only collateral on the loan is a lien on the proceeds of a settlement or verdict.

As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of claims where the plaintiff will not utilize their health insurance and/or workers compensation in order to avoid managed care programs which validate the need for certain medical treatment.

As a result of this, Commercial Automobile technologies such as dash cameras are becoming more widely adopted.

Impact of Dash Cameras

Dash Cameras can prove conclusively if a truck driver is at fault in an accident. In loss events where a commercial truck is involved in an accident with a private passenger vehicle, the commercial vehicle is nearly always targeted by litigants due to the availability of higher limits. This occurs even though Federal Highway Administration states that the car driver’s behavior is 3x more likely to contribute to the fatal accident than the truck driver’s behavior.

Several types of dash cameras are on the market today. Cameras can record both forward on the road and backward on the driver. Typical cameras will record data on an SD card which is generally formatted for both looping and event data. Looping data records continuously until the SD card is full and then the oldest data will be overwritten. Data is saved on the SD card indefinitely when an event is detected such as impact, hard braking, rapid acceleration, etc. Quality dash cameras will save three minutes of video. Other types of cameras do not use SD cards and transmit video clips over wireless technology. Dash cameras have high definition recording capability and clear nighttime recording functionality.