You asked for it and we listened. In this column, we ask operators of all sizes and from all walks of the industry a question about their business and report their answers so you can assess how your own company compares to your peers. If you would like to participate, please email Rob Smentek at email@example.com for next issue’s question.
TOPIC: Do you have dash cams installed in your vehicles? Why or why not? What are the pros and cons of having/not having them?
I wouldn’t ever have a fleet without in-vehicle camera systems. If you value your customer, value your business, and want to sleep a bit better at night knowing that you have an extra layer of protection, you should have cameras in your vehicles. They offer not only protection when insurance companies go in to subrogation but also the opportunity that you, as a manager or owner, are given to help coach individuals out of bad driving behaviors.
We review our cameras to coach our chauffeurs and maintenance team—and even I was caught on camera with a bit of a slalom-like curve execution.
We use the DriveCam product and couldn’t be happier. It allows us to determine and assign “unknown” damage, determine and assess trends in driving behavior, and also provides metrics on our performance. Cameras in your cars are a necessity: Once you have them installed, you’ll ask yourself how you did it before. It is hands-down one of the better items or services that you can feel comfortable spending your money on.
Jay Bowers, General Manager
AJL International in Austin, Texas
Currently, my stretch limousines do not have dash cams, but they are installed in my sedans and SUVs. I installed them soon after my daughter was cut off on the highway and the driver tried to tell the police that it was her fault. We have had discussions with our insurance broker and underwriting company who love cams, and like that more and more operators use them. I am now thinking of adding a rear camera to catch a rear-end collision should one happen.
Phil Bozzelli, Owner
Corporate Livery Toronto in Toronto, Ont.
Dash cam systems are a must these days. The litigious nature of our society requires that we do all that we can to ensure that what really happened is what is determined to have happened when being interviewed by police, insurance adjusters, and, yes, lawyers.
Over the past three years, we have had two incidents where we have been absolved of any wrongdoing, contrary to both the passenger’s and a claimant’s statements to authorities. One of these incidents could have been a $50,000 settlement (as advised by our insurance agent) had we not had the dash cam system in place. The other was a “he said/she said” with a red light: The video clearly showed our chauffeur did not run the red light.
We have these systems in all our larger vehicles (i.e., mini- and coach buses) and will begin installing them in all our vehicles this year. While these systems are important for accident recreations, don’t forget about how useful they are when dealing with chauffeurs who might need that extra incentive to be as professional and safe as possible. I strongly advise installing them at once.
Eric Devlin, President/Owner
Premier Transportation Services in Dallas, Texas
All 224 vehicles in Reston’s fleet are equipped with dash cams, and all have at least two camera views—though some have as many as five. The cams assist with liability mitigation, identifying potential driver “at-risk” behavior, passenger and driver safety, and security issues. Installing dash cams can be a benefit financially as many insurance carriers offer a reduction of premium. They’ve also been helpful in enhancing our TSA assessment.
Keith Johnson, Safety and Training Manager
Reston Limousine in Sterling, Va.
We have cameras in some of our vehicles, but not all. They are expensive and cumbersome to operate, because ours have a removable chip that collects the data. We did have some incidents where the camera came in handy, such as a few accidents or when a chauffeur hit a pole at the gas station, and all the way back to the shop he practiced the story he was going to tell us as to how it happened. The cameras are quite an investment for 30 vehicles, so I am not sure they would cover the cost. If the price came down and the quality went up, I might consider it in the future.
Becky Laramee, CEO
All Points Limousine in Millbury, Mass.
As we have grown year over year and hire more chauffeurs, we feel like it is becoming important and beneficial for us to have cameras in our vehicles. We are currently researching products and are scheduled to have cameras in our vehicles by the end of Q1 2018. Anything we can utilize to get more data and help us make better decisions is an essential part of operating at the top of our industry. The insight alone obtained prior to and after an incident will help in our chauffeur training and will only add value to our service. This is on top of utilizing reporting functions to lower wear-and-tear on vehicles through chauffeur driving audits.
Jason Messinger, President
BBZ Limousine & Livery Service in Bergenfield, N.J.
We have front- and rear-facing dash cams in all of our vehicles with the sound turned off to ensure our clients’ privacy. So far, they have proven to be only beneficial. We have been involved in a couple of accidents, none our fault. We let the police review the video at our office and in every single instance, it has shown the other party’s fault.
It has also helped us in non-accident situations. At one of our local FBOs, a new manager came in, and we received a nasty letter stating that we were barred for 30 days from picking up on the tarmac because we moved when technically we shouldn’t have. After reviewing the video, it clearly showed one of their staff motioning for us to move. Their letter was rescinded with apologies. When we strive to do our best every day, sometimes the cameras catch us doing good. When we are making mistakes, they also help us to improve.
Tracy Salinger, General Manager
Unique Limousine in Harrisburg, Pa.
We have used dash cams since the ’90s, and as far as our experience goes, they are one of the great tools of the industry. While its many advantages include eliminating false blame, seeing if the chauffeur is wearing his seatbelt or dressed properly, or catching an accident or hit-and-run, there’s also a panic button feature that helps protect chauffeurs if they have a rude or drunk passenger badgering or even hurting them. The dash cam’s tracking system will also let you know whether your vehicles are being driven for personal use, or worse, if someone else is using the car.
With the cost having come down quite a bit, it’s a great addition to a fleet—especially for vans, buses, or stretch limousines where you can mount multiple cameras. We’ve had insurance companies come and review the video and see that the drivers had both hands on the wheel, wasn’t eating, and wasn’t talking on the phone, so they paid 100 percent of the claim.
Steve Schiano, Manager
Elite Limousine Service in Norwolk, Conn.
We have been using DriveCam since 2004. Initially, it seemed to be a great tool for after-the-fact situations. When incidents occurred, we were able to prove who was at fault and it allowed us to quickly resolve claims.
In practice, the camera has provided an invaluable coaching tool that has let us monitor a chauffeur’s performance and correct it before an incident happens. Our team reviews driving behavior through dash cams, tracking systems, speed alerts, behind the wheel assessments, driving simulator assessments, and customer comments. All of these tools are monitored daily and used for coaching and improving driving performance. DriveCam and our other tools ensure we maintain low loss ratios and a great reputation with FMCSA, local police, and our customers.
Stephen Story, President
James River Transportation in Richmond, Va.
We have cameras in all our vehicles—and it is mandatory. The biggest pro to having one is that it takes the “he said/she said” out of chauffeur performance and accident reconstruction. Fortunately, we don’t have many accidents, but having the camera has definitely saved my insurance company money on faulty claims, leading to a lower premium. The con is that people generally don’t like being recorded, but, to date, no one has said anything about our cameras.
Scott Woodruff, President/CEO
Majestic Limo & Coach in Des Moines, Iowa
We’ve loved hearing your answers to our benchmarking questions since debuting this interactive section—but we always welcome suggestions for future topics, too!
Have you wondered how others in the industry have tackled a concern you’re currently facing, handled a delicate issue, implemented a certain policy, or do you simply want to propose a topic for our consideration?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you just might see your query answered in a future issue. We look forward to your input!