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Fleet broker makes 2024 the ‘Year of Cameras’

27.02.24 · News

2024 is the UN International Year of Camelids but in the fleet world, as a specialist fleet transport insurance broker, McCarron Coates, is highlighting how a perfect storm of potential claims scenarios necessitates it becoming the transport industry’s Year of Cameras.

At a time when fleet operators are battling with rising costs of fuel, energy and labour, our specialist fleet broking insurance team believes it is extremely advantageous, from an insurance cost-saving and claims avoidance point of view, for all fleet operations to adopt First Notification of Risk strategies, as well as First Notification of Loss.

This means investing in both outward-facing cameras and driver-facing cameras that combine machine vision with AI capabilities, which can create audible signals, to alert a driver to risks, before any impacts are experienced.

Why cameras are so advantageous for fleets

Cameras can alert drivers of risks ‘in the moment’, whether those are on the road or because a driver is doing something that could prove a distraction, be that using a mobile phone, eating, smoking or falling asleep.

By investing in such cameras, a fleet operator could cut their cost per claim and dramatically reduce claims severity.  One 72-vehicle client that the broker has assisted cut its cost per claim from over £9000 to just £200, by adopting FNOR strategies over a 14-month period.  The reward, from the insurer, was premium stability, rather than a £2000 per vehicle rise in premium that had been predicted after the insurer’s first three months’ claims experience.

Achieving an optimised crash narrative

Here at McCarron Coates, we have also been highlighting how fleet operators need to be progressing their in-cab security systems so cameras and telematics are no longer siloed security systems, but working together, so as to provide an optimised crash narrative.  Their evidence bank needs to be thorough and irrefutable, at a time when rises in insurance fraud are making insurers keener to have all the evidence in front of them, before agreeing to any liability.

We believe cameras are now also imperative because of the legislative framework in which commercial drivers are operating.  Making this the Year of the Cameras is vital within a sector that is facing an increasing threat from theft of both vehicles and goods but also from those seeking to benefit from crash for cash scenarios.

Add to this legal issues  and goods damage that can arise when there is unauthorised access to a truck’s load areas – a particular issue for those servicing European routes – and cameras can be multi-purpose.

Cameras and the Hierarchy of Road Users

Having cameras monitoring all of an HGV’s blind spots, has also become part of the augmented

Direct Vision Standard requirements, which will apply to those wishing to take 12-tonne-and-larger trucks into London after October 28.  Whilst this may seem a localised and capital-centric concern, the January 2022 edition of the Highway Code, which introduced a new Hierarchy of Road Users with pedestrians and cyclists at the top, has established a liability framework too.  Any incident involving an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist is likely to have bigger consequences for a driver, especially since the June 2022 introduction of the motoring offence of ‘Causing Serious Injury by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving.’

This latest piece of legislation is so significant for fleet drivers that we launched our RTC Crisis Line service in 2023, which is offered to all McCarron Coates fleet clients. This provides them with the legal support of a lawyer and fleet transport sector specialist, the minute the incident involves the police, both at the roadside and, in person at a police station, if things are taken further.

Notably, the sentencing guidelines for this legislation list the vulnerability of the person or persons involved in the accident as an ‘aggravating factor’ that should be taken into consideration. Cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders and motorcyclists are deemed ‘vulnerable’ road users, in this mention of aggravating factors.  Another aggravating factor is ‘driving for commercial purposes’ and another is ‘driving a LGV, HGV or PSV etc’.

With this legislation on the statute books, it is not just in London that drivers of HGVs need cameras. In locations nationwide, drivers of coaches and vans would be wise to follow suit, creating 360º vision around their vehicle and eliminating any blind spots.

Cameras as a silent witness

Not all accidents with cyclists and pedestrians – or indeed with other motorists – are the fault of a fleet driver but without video evidence, this is hard to prove.  Cameras are the silent witness within a cab, noting what happened and who was to blame for an incident, as well as weather conditions, the erratic behaviour of other road users and the road positioning of all involved.

With video footage able to be sent to an insurer almost instantly, the installation of cameras can also assist with the all-essential fast reporting of an incident that helps speed up the first notification of loss (FNOL) process and keep claims costs under control.

Furthermore, camera installation can improve driving behaviours and, especially when married up with telematics, to pinpoint where particular drivers require additional help and training.  This can build on-going risk improvement into a fleet and further reduce insurance costs and the claims incidents that keep vehicles off the road and unable to earn money.

Our viewpoint

McCarron Coates director, Ian McCarron, says: “Cameras have often been treated as a luxury, or fitted only when a fleet has been forced to comply with legislation.  Those fleets who do have cameras may not have them serviced regularly or actually switched on, at times.  2024 is the year in which every fleet needs to become less camera shy and recognise that an investment in cameras that can be multi-purpose and collect evidence from both outside the vehicle and inside it, is now highly advisable. It is more or less essential, if a fleet wishes to dramatically improve its risk, cut the incidence and cost of claims significantly, and avoid legal issues and potential driver disqualification and imprisonment, for just a careless or inconsiderate moment of driving.

“Fleets are operating in a tough environment and need to wise up to what is available to support their case.  Whilst telematics can present some of the evidence, camera footage completes the picture and is the most important witness a driver can have to call upon.  There are now so many reasons for needing this visual support that we would urge any fleet operator to take action on this right now and talk to us about how camera purchase costs can be recouped through reductions in insurance premiums and claims. These savings can quickly offset the investment.”