Johannesburg - At first glance it looks like Big Brother gone crazy: a system of four cameras mounted on and in the cab of a fleet vehicle, that enables management to monitor the driver’s actions, where he is and what he’s doing, in real time with a permanent record as back-up.
But even drivers of heavy goods vehicles are beginning to see the advantages of being able to prove beyond argument what actually happened when, as so often happens, they become involved in a “he said - she said” traffic situation.
“South Africa has a high road accident rate and our roads are heavily used by commercial vehicles,” said Cartrack South Africa CEO Andre Ittmann. “Driver management is becoming an expensive exercise, with high risk levels for commercial fleets.”
Which is why he has come up with a new system called Live Vision, to keep fleet managers in visual contact with their vehicles through video recording and transmission, in South Africa and neighbouring countries.
Access to real-time footage and tracking tools of vehicle and driver performance on the road, he says, helps improve driving skills, controls costs and protects against legal liability.
Clear video record
You can access the footage instantly using an app or web interface, and it’s also archived for later use, if necessary, so that a clear video record of accident and other events can straighten out legal confusion.
“The tool protects and vindicates drivers and companies in accident situations,” Ittmann said. “Fraud is reduced and claims are resolved quickly and accurately thanks to clear, visual proof of driving incidents.
“This proof can also be used for coaching, reinforcing a company’s commitment to the safety of its employees, while improving driver performance reduces collisions, and brings down running costs for tyres, brakes and fuel.”
The system contains up to four cameras connected to a control unit; the primary camera records video footage of a 120 degree exterior view of the road ahead, while the driver camera gives a 100-degree view of the cab, including infrared illumination for low-light conditions. The third and fourth cameras can be placed wherever you want them.
The video footage is recorded and stored on-board 24/7, and can be linked to location and speed information, so you know what really happened and can prove it.
The system also allows for setting up points of interest and geofences, so that an ‘event’ is triggered if a driver leaves his area, enters a no-go zone , or even remains stationary for longer than a given period along his route. Accessories include microphones and speakers, a panic button, door switches and other inputs able to trigger events.
“Having all this information means any incident on the road can analysed by management,” said Ittmann. “It shows exactly what actions led to the event, how it was handled and what the outcome was.”
It’s available on a monthly subscription service, or a cash option that that covers software services and support. Regardless of the ‘Big Brother’ overtones, Ittmann insists, a lot of positive feedback has been coming from the drivers themselves, who see the system as a defence mechanism.