Two-way cab cams good for drivers, says Toll

By: Steve Skinner

Toll says in-truck cameras are preventing damage, driver fatigue and distraction as well as proving the other party was at fault in accidents

Two-way cab cams good for drivers, says Toll
The DriveCam system.


Toll is claiming success for controversial cab cameras which are pointed at drivers as well as the road ahead.

The two-way cameras have been used by northern Australia carrier Toll NQX since 2011.

Amongst other benefits Toll says the cameras have led to a near halving of accidents involving damage.

More than 140 Toll NQX prime movers have now been fitted with the "DriveCam" system. Each camera costs around $1,000 to install and $130 a month to monitor and review.

Speed monitoring involving the different "black box" telematics system was introduced by Toll NQX way back in 2001. But Toll says that despite proven safety benefits from speed monitoring, the division was "frustrated" by the limitations of the telematics data.

"The data indicated speed, location and time but shed no light on the surrounding circumstances," says an article by Toll in the latest Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety.

"Telematics data could reveal nothing about factors such as road condition and topography that would point to a downhill gradient sufficient to ‘over-ride’ a speed limiter …(and) could not provide Toll NQX with crucial information such as traffic conditions, signage, animal interaction, weather events, driver state (such as fatigue and distraction) or the behaviour of other road users."


Toll acknowledges that protecting privacy is an "obvious challenge" of the camera technology.

However the journal article says: "One of the attractions of DriveCam … is that it continually records and then deletes data, except in the case of a ‘G force event’ or when activated by the driver.

"G-force events include sudden braking, harsh cornering, and the ‘bounce’ produced by uneven road surfaces or swerving. Where a G-force event occurs DriveCam records 12 seconds of vision and audio: the eight seconds leading up to the event and the four seconds afterwards. Drivers can also elect to record data by pressing a button in the cab.

"An additional layer of privacy protection is provided by the fact that the recorded data is analysed by a third party based in California in the United States.

"This third party analyses the footage and emails data that may warrant further investigation to a limited number of specially trained Toll NQX staff. These staff are bound by a code of conduct that stipulates the conditions under which they may view footage (for example, no one else may be in the room when it is viewed) and what they may do with it."

Toll says drivers were concerned that footage would be used mainly for punishment, but claims most drivers have "readily adopted" DriveCam.


The company maintains the video footage has proven "invaluable" as a learning tool.

"Driver managers report that the footage sometimes shocks drivers, who have a different or partial recollection of what occurred," the journal article says.

It adds: "No driver has been dismissed purely as a result of camera footage. Instead, camera footage tends to support observations of driver behaviour garnered through other channels."

Toll says the DriveCam program is proving that drivers are not at fault in accidents.

For example: "In instances where an incident has been largely or entirely triggered by circumstances outside of the driver’s control, the footage is helping to establish liability and drive down investigation time and cost and insurance premiums."

Later the article says: "The competence and professionalism of drivers was noted by the Fair Work Commission which, having viewed some of the footage, stated that the cameras ‘provided some significant examples of the skill and quick thinking of drivers, enabling them to avoid what would otherwise have been the disastrous consequences of the seemingly unlawful and negligent actions of other road users’."

That’s a reference to a 2014 Fair Work Commission case brought in Victoria against Toll by the Transport Workers Union on privacy grounds, which Toll won.


Amongst those factors which are within the driver’s control, Toll says distraction contributes surprisingly often to G-force events.

"The camera footage has revealed how apparently small actions can divert drivers’ attention," say the authors.

"These actions include inserting CDs, changing radio stations, using mobile phones and reaching for food and drink.

"In one instance, a rollover occurred on the Bruce Highway north of Brisbane when a driver reached into the fridge for his lunch."

Another surprising result is how many drivers have been shown not wearing their seatbelts. Meanwhile there’s been a reduction in tailgating and cornering too fast.

Overall Toll NQX says since the camera system was brought in there has been a near halving in incidents causing damage, and insurance claim costs have dropped by an average of $25,000 a month.

The journal article was written by Toll’s group manager for compliance, Dr Sarah Jones, and senior division managers.

Check out the full feature in the May issue of Owner//Driver.



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