Invisible, Invasive, Invaluable?
Addressing Privacy Concerns About Data & Video Collection
BY: LAUREN DOMNICK, DIRECTOR OF ANALYTICS & MODELING, OMNITRACS
Factory floors all across North America are awash in production-enhancing data collection that yields abundant performance metrics about machines and their operators. That’s not necessarily been the case with the trucking industry, a critical and enormous contributor to our economy. While the emphasis on logistics has resulted in efficiency improvements, what happens inside the cabs of a fleet’s rolling assets has largely stayed there. Depending on your perspective, one of the “inv” words to the left may best express your feelings when the subject of in-cab data and video collection arises.
Applied technology is providing greater visibility into rolling asset assessments and truck driver efficiency measurements. As with measuring many of today’s business investments, metrics is a key piece of the logistics puzzle that many might identify as a black hole. But what does this mean for those of you driving the trucks? As a provider of fleet technology, companies such as Omnitracs realize they sound biased when saying there’s nothing to fear about gathering and analyzing driver data.
With technology, everything that’s happening with a truck, from drivetrain to the driver, can be evaluated. With the right software and the right data, routes can be optimized for the best fuel efficiency. With video in the cab, critical event monitoring has proven useful in protecting companies from litigation, as well as enhancing driver safety training. For carriers, these new capabilities provide better cost control, less paperwork, improved safety, and increased profitability per mile. These benefits provide more efficient operations and protection of margins.
For many drivers, however, the appearance of invasiveness results in objections. This infusion of technology can feel a bit like Big Brother trying to keep an eye on driver habits and behaviors. Everyone in the industry understands this concern. Still, the technology is here to stay, and is less about operating stricter and more about operating smarter.
Following are five things you should know that might ease some of your concerns.
1. What is Collected and Why?
When it comes to data, many carriers don’t share what is being collected with their drivers, and, in the absence of information, worst-case scenarios are assumed. This has led to many misconceptions. Some drivers think that personal data such as credit scores and Social Security numbers are being used in ways that are not approved. None of that is true. For things like predictive modeling—which can improve driver safety, help carriers run more efficiently, and keep drivers happier behind the wheel—data is necessary, but carriers don’t collect data they don’t need.
Also, drivers should be aware that the data is made anonymous and stored only as long as it’s needed. It’s also important drivers recognize that social media and our increasingly digitally driven lifestyles are significantly more intrusive and collect far more personal data than common telematics platforms.
2. Satisfaction and Quality of Life
Most in-cab camera solutions honor the driver’s privacy during hours when not on duty. A respectful fleet owner recognizes that the cab is also the driver’s off-hours living room, dining room, bedroom and refuge. Companies should never invade privacy in those private moments when drivers communicate with their families, eat their meals and are relaxing and resting.
Many driver-facing cameras are already set to only record based on duty time, so they aren’t going to capture things that happen when you’re off the clock. Also, it’s important to recognize that you and your company can use these cameras to protect against wrongful litigation in much the same way that a forward-facing camera can. Knowing that most accidents aren’t the fault of drivers, cameras are proving that drivers were doing everything they should be doing when incidents occur.
3. All Duty-Hour Video Not Stored
While some products offer live-monitoring capabilities, most in-cab cameras don’t. They are only triggered to record when something out of the ordinary happens, so there isn’t someone sitting on the other end of a monitor just waiting to catch the driver breaking a rule or bending a regulation. By figuring out what happened after an incident, the intent of video is more forensic.
4. Cameras Improve Culture of Safety
Driver satisfaction and driver safety go hand in hand. Many drivers choose a carrier because they are impressed with an observed culture of safety. They might like the trucks they’d be driving because they’re well maintained and regularly updated. Perhaps the culture of safety matches their own personal safety philosophies.
Additionally, for the companies that provide trucks and equipment to the drivers, cabs are their workplaces, and cameras in workplaces are already prevalent. They are widely used in most yards, and few seem to have a problem with that. Installing cameras in cabs is merely an extension of what is becoming commonplace in every aspect of our daily lives.
5. Great Tool for New Drivers
Most drivers have probably noticed new hires that have come onboard with minimal training or witnessed others who could use additional coaching. Cameras enable managers to train these inexperienced drivers, helping the overall safety record of the fleet and improving driver reputation as a whole within the company. By documenting new driver behavior, managers can provide constructive feedback. Additionally, having video of a driver handling a critical event poorly only helps all drivers become safer.
Technology in trucks will become more prevalent, and yes, some drivers will object to implementation of new systems. The best carriers will keep communications open, because frankly, some of those concerns are legitimate—and all of them deserve to be heard. Successful adoption of new technology requires cooperation from the people who will be using it daily. That is only achieved when drivers and carriers openly express their concerns, everyone has been educated on the technologies being put in place, and the benefits they provide to drivers and fleets are understood.