by: Karen Bradley
If you’re thinking about installing dashcams as part of your fleet tracking strategy, you may be tempted by the low prices of consumer-grade technology.
Buying consumer cameras could save you some money, but you get what you pay for. These types of cameras aren’t designed to be deployed as part of a commercial fleet. They lack many of the features and benefits associated with commercial dashcams, and they are far less reliable.
Before you buy consumer cameras for your fleet vehicles, consider these risks.
Consumer cameras are built with lower-grade materials than commercial cameras. This makes them affordable, but it also makes them less resilient. They may even produce lower-quality footage because the components within the camera aren’t as robust.
Most importantly, consumer cameras aren’t designed to be used in commercial applications. They may be suitable for a consumer who wants to record video footage of their driving in case they get in an accident, but they won’t stand up under stress. They may break down or lose value soon after they are installed due to repeated operation.
Consumer dashcams come in simple designs. They’re also designed to be easily removed and repositioned. Unfortunately, that makes them easy for dishonest drivers to manipulate.
A consumer dashcam could be moved so it doesn’t provide a clear view of either the driver or the road, all but ruining your ability to monitor driving behavior. Without any alert system in place, it’s easy for a dishonest driver to claim the camera was jostled during transit or suffered a malfunction.
The SD cards used to record data in consumer grade cameras can also be easily removed. Commercial grade cameras will have an SD card that is locked, so only authorized users can remove the card and access the data.
Consumer dashcams are designed to record footage and not much else. They don’t come with commercial monitoring software, nor do they provide real-time alerts of incidents on the road like commercial-grade smart cameras.
Smart cameras can alert drivers when they are engaging in unsafe driving behaviors. They’re backed by powerful artificial intelligence (AI) that tracks driver safety in real-time. This is a crucial tool for keeping your drivers safe on the road and avoiding potential costs due to damages.
As part of a real-time GPS tracking solution, commercial smart cameras can keep track of your fleet vehicles’ maintenance requirements. They can be synchronized with commercial-grade software to give you a clear view of the health of your fleet.
Consumer cameras simply don’t have this function. They can create recordings, but they don’t integrate with other fleet management solutions.
Today’s commercial dashcams are both front and rear-facing. They use AI to identify when your drivers engage in unsafe driving behaviors. This type of behavior tracking is an integral part of any fleet safety program—it’s important to work with a provider that can not only help you install your dashcams, but also help you setup a safety program for your company’s fleet.
Using behavior tracking, fleet managers can get a record of unsafe driving immediately. They don’t have to review hours of footage to locate the information they need, and they can rely on automated alerts to tell them when a vehicle is being operated unsafely.
Behavior tracking technology feeds information into a software application, where both drivers and supervisors can gain a complete view of everything that happens on the road. This makes coaching drivers much easier and can even assist in investigating an incident.
Consumer dashcams don’t have this capability. They make recordings, but they don’t include the AI necessary to identify and track driver behavior.
Consumer-grade cameras can’t record much data. They aren’t suitable for long periods of operation. In some cases, they may not be able to record an entire workday’s worth of driving without running out of storage space.
When this is the case, you risk recording only a small segment of your fleet’s operations. You are left with blank spots in your footage, where you have no information about driving behavior or potential incidents on the road.
This effectively eliminates the purpose of installing dashcams altogether. You need to obtain a complete view of your fleet operations to obtain a significant ROI from your investment.
Most consumer cameras store data locally, typically on an SD card. When this is the case, you must physically remove the SD card and transfer the data to your computer just to watch a recording. This must be done regularly if you are to obtain a complete view of your fleet operations.
Commercial-grade cameras may come with secure SD cards that can record footage for insurance companies and police, but many are also cloud-based. They work in conjunction with software to send and store data remotely.
That means they send data to be stored while the vehicle is in operation. There, the data can be maintained indefinitely and even viewed in real-time. With the right plan, you can gain as much storage space for your fleet recordings as you need.
One of the most important aspects of today’s commercial-grade dashcams is that they provide fleet managers with a real-time view of the driver. Combined with AI, this real-time view is essential for coaching drivers and keeping them safe on the road.
For example, if a driver takes out their phone and sends a text message while driving, a consumer-grade camera may record the incident, but it won’t send an alert to the driver or the supervisor. Without a real-time view of the driver, the supervisor would have to review hours of footage just to identify the incident, which could only last a few seconds. They’ll then have to confront the driver after the fact.
Commercial dashboard cameras are installed by professionals who ensure they are both secure and connected properly to the vehicle’s power source. Unlike with consumer grade cameras, which typically have wires hanging down to connect to the 12V connector for power, the wires of commercial grade cameras are neatly secured and hidden.
Relying on consumer cameras to track your fleet vehicles is a risky endeavor, and it won’t give you the ROI you need. A comprehensive commercial camera system can help you mitigate risk, operate more securely, and realize other benefits.
Commercial dash cams like those from EcoTrack Fleet Management combine wireless technology, GPS tracking, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and more to keep your fleet secure, lower insurance premiums, and help you enforce driving standards. Contact us today at 1-800-792-9620 for a free demonstration of our fleet tracking technology.