It is no secret that ever more aggressive plaintiff attorney actions and a targeting of commercial fleets are leading to a substantial increase in the volume and amount of verdicts against commercial fleets. There are uses of technology that every fleet should consider to mitigate the risk of “nuclear”/destructive settlements. Both fleets and commercial insurers pay the price for outrageous awards (often 7 or 8 figures!) so fleets and insurers should be working together to promote at least these 3 steps in improved safety responsibility:
Video value: The Recording of Truth
Video cameras installed in vehicles have progressed significantly recently with the advent of AI-oriented cameras. Since the first video cameras, however, a primary value was the “recording of truth”, meaning an accurate recording of what may have happened (or not happened) in an accident. In addition to this claims settlement value, video often means exoneration to the commercial fleet, since they are often blamed whether or not they are at fault. In addition to claims settlement value, video can also enable improvements in driver behavior, and, ultimately, loss histories. The accident that the fleet avoids is one less chance to spend time in court. Video should be considered mandatory for large expensive vehicles and when passengers are carried, both heightening potential liability.
Negligent Entrustment: Act on Identified Risk
The world is full of technology (phone app, GPS/OBD, video) that provide “driver scorecards” typically related to accelerometer-derived change of momentum determinations (accelerating, braking, cornering) in addition to speed by street and possibly more sophisticated AI-oriented data such as following distance and driver distraction. AI cameras provide enhanced “contextual insight” combined with momentum change understanding (“this hard braking event now has more meaning when I see that it occurred at this following distance, in this traffic situation, entering an intersection, with pedestrians in the crosswalk, etc”). While identification of risk is very important, it is more important to use that identification of risk as the basis for the correction or improvement of that risk exposure. The reason you identify risk is so you can correct it. Very few solutions provide real help at helping the fleet manage the process of correcting driver behavior. The “heavy lifting” in behavior correction involves notifying the driver of driving issues, providing keys/guidance to correction, and measuring the impact of that coaching moving forward.
Cell phone Misuse: Do Not Condone It
Whether addressed by policy, identification of infraction (video shows holding of phone, phone app shows unscorable data related to phone movement inside vehicle), or the actual disablement of certain cell phone functions when a vehicle is moving, clear attention must be paid to the huge problem of accidents related to driver distraction, namely cell phone use while driving. Cell phones are self-incriminating devices and cell phone records can easily/legally be reconstructed from wireless carriers. If the driver is on the phone during an accident, it will be discovered. And it will not end well in court. Be sure that drivers are not distracted from driving by the handling of their cell phones. In no fashion, should fleet management condone the distraction caused by cell phones.
Accuscore specializes in assisting fleets to manage the process of driver behavior correction and to manage distracting cell phone usage while driving.
President and Co-Founder of Accuscore Driver Analytics, Alan Mann
firstname.lastname@example.org / Linkedin: Alan Mann