There are a lot of interesting and even shocking dash cam videos on the internet these days. Some of the low-grade ones out there are from people who are dangerously driving themselves and holding up their phone to capture an image of someone else driving dangerously. Most of these, end with some sort of catastrophic crash or a heavy haul truck shedding its load.
Most of the rest are captured by professional-grade dash cams, that have been installed in the vehicle for legitimate reasons. Many of these are fleet vehicles, where the dash cams have been installed to improve driver accountability as well as minimizing liability issues.
Indeed, there are some people out there who will walk across a street like a pedestrian, just to throw themselves with dramatic flair onto the hood or grill of a commercial vehicle. They tend to do this because there is this perception that companies with a fleet, have deep pockets and insurance companies who will pay out big bucks for a little bruise. Even if it’s self-inflicted.
A vehicle with a dash cam mounted to it can, of course, capture these attempts at fraud to help defend the driver and limit liability. In some of these cases, the footage is also prime evidence for law enforcement.
How Common Are Dash Cams?
In the United States dash, cams aren’t all that common. In other parts of the world, particularly in Europe, they are becoming increasingly common. To some degree, this is due to European narrow roads, high population density, and sometimes related to cultural sentiments.
Taking a closer look at the cost versus benefit value of dash cams, it becomes increasingly obvious that US drivers, and particularly commercial fleet managers, should strongly consider having dash cams installed.
How Much Does A Dash Cam Cost?
Right off the bat, a quality dash cam is incredibly inexpensive. Most of these units only cost between $60 to $160. There are some models that can simply plug directly into the vehicle’s dash power port or cigarette lighter. They can then be affixed to the dash or an unobstructed part of the windshield
There are also models that can be professionally installed, and hardwired into the vehicle’s electric system, or tied directly into the battery.
The dash cam model that’s right for the vehicles in your fleet can vary depending on your needs. Where liability is an issue, a unit capable of capturing HD quality images may be a priority feature. This makes it more likely to be able to capture facial images and license plate numbers.
What Is The Return On Investment For A Dash Cam?
In a perfect world, US-based insurance companies would offer incentives or discounts to vehicles and drivers who use dash cams. There are even some states who are attempting to enact legislation that will encourage insurance companies to offer premium discounts to dash cam users. So, there is certainly growing sentiment.
However, there are other ways for a dash cam system to pay for itself. Especially when you consider the legal costs associated with defending your drivers against potentially claim-triggering events. Every time your insurance company has to pay a settlement to a claim leveled against you, it will likely increase the premiums you pay.
Not to mention if there’s necessary legal defense involved, in trying to prevent fraud. Even if your driver or vehicle is a victim of fraud, billable hours spent on lawyers add up very quickly. Just to defend yourself against someone else trying to exploit your company.
Statistically, the Insurance Information Institute estimates that casualty and property damage costs insurance companies around $34 billion annually. At the same time, the National Insurance Crime Bureau auto insurance has found that potential fraud was a factor in many of these losses.
Many insurance companies who offer comprehensive fleet coverage policies will increase their premiums by applying a so-called 10 to 20% “Fraud-Tax.” If fraud rates, claims, settlement payouts and litigation costs were reduced, it would likely to reduce these percentages as well.
What Other Ways Can Dash Cams Help Save My Fleet Money?
Dash cams aren’t only beneficial for insulating or defending yourself against staged fraud events and costs. It can also help fleet managers to reduce overall costs in other ways.
One prevalent area when they can be a factor is in defending drivers against wrongfully issued tickets. An article published in the Chicago Tribune found that In Illinois alone thousands of erroneous tickets were successfully defended between 2007 to 2014.
If you have a quality dash cam mounted on a fleet vehicle, where a wrongful ticket was issued, it could be the key evidence to prove the driver’s innocence. This might also reduce insurance premium costs, as well as possible legal fees.
Dash Cams Can Also Help With Safety And Discourage Vandalism
In some industries, fleet vehicles are left on sight, or parked for prolonged periods of time, where site security might not be sufficient. There are a great many job sites where there are no security fences or security personnel to protect fleet vehicles and equipment during off hours.
Some dash cams only record footage when you turn them on, there are many units that can be hardwired and integrated with a motion sensor. Any time something triggers the sensor, the dash cam starts to record. Some of these units can even be set up to send activation alerts or allow you to download footage to your computer or a wireless device.
Not only can this help prosecuting offenders, but the presence of a dash cam can also discourage would-be vandals. It might also be a factor in reducing insurance claims for vehicle damage.
What Does The Future Hold For Dash Cams?
With more companies and states becoming aware of the benefits of dash cams, it seems increasingly likely that incentives are soon to follow. Even if they never manifest, a fleet equipped with dash cams can still realize significant savings and return on investment in a relatively short amount of time.