Tractor-Trailer Cameras Benefit Safety

The use of cameras in tractor-trailers and other big rigs has produced amazing safety results, but many in the trucking industry continue to resist the new technology based on a profit-at-all-costs mindset. Fortunately, some trucking companies are actively adopting cameras for their fleets regardless of the widespread industry opposition.

By using cameras to record what happens inside and outside a semi in the moments before an accident, law enforcement and trucking companies themselves are better able to determine which party is at fault, in addition to pinpointing the events that caused the wreck. The video is made available to the trucking companies online, typically through a third-party provider. Much like police body cameras, the devices used to record the area surrounding 18-wheelers and the movements of drivers are invaluable in reconstructing exactly what happened in a highway collision.

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The trucking industry has issued a litany of complaints about cameras, from driver privacy concerns to gripes over lower productivity among those whose trucks are outfitted with video capabilities. However, some shippers are taking a stand, including Liberty, Missouri-based American Central Transport (ACT).

Earlier this year, ACT offered to increase pay for its 80 contract drivers by $0.02 per mile in exchange for installing cameras in their trucks for free. By the middle of this year, ACT announced that it would install camera systems in its entire fleet. According to ACT, the company reported 16 accidents to the Department of Transportation during the first half of 2014. Although ACT reported four accidents in the first quarter of this year, as of August, it had only one reportable accident since it began installing the cameras in February, and the company says that accident was not the driver’s fault.

ACT is not alone in adopting camera systems. Swift Transportation, the nation’s largest roadway carrier with more than 16,000 trucks in operation, announced in May that it was installing front-facing and driver-facing cameras companywide.

With industry leaders such as ACT and Swift embracing this new technology, other trucking companies are expected to fall in line. Eventually, the benefits of cameras – both in terms of safety and accountability – will cause every trucking company to join in. However, there are many that still vigorously oppose cameras, and their vehicles will continue to present greater roadway dangers.

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