February 22, 2024

Video review services change the game for carrier risk mitigation


These days, dashcams do much more than record events on the road and in the cab. Dashcams can detect accelerometer-triggered events to relay back to a carrier in real time, and AI-powered dashcams take it to the next level with the ability to alert a carrier to everything from distracted and fatigued driving to speeding and failure to obey the rules of the road. This gives carriers a newfound ability to exonerate drivers in the event of a crash, as well as proactively prevent accidents and promote safety within their organizations. 

Some of the top driver behaviors linked to future crash likelihood include the very behaviors, which are violations, that an AI-powered dashcam detects. According to the American Transportation Research Institute’s 2022 report on Predicting Truck Crash Involvement, examples of these predictors include a failure to yield right-of-way violation, a failure to obey traffic sign conviction, and a reckless/careless/inattentive/negligent driving conviction. 

But fleets — even modest-sized ones — generate a vast amount of data exposing unsafe driving behaviors. AI-powered dashcams can detect many more instances than a vehicle’s electronic control module (ECM) and electronic logging device (ELD) alone. 

All unsafe behaviors must be coached to reduce risk, so many carriers turn to a video review service (VRS). Outsourcing the review of unsafe driving alerts can help a carrier maximize the return on a dashcam-driven coaching system by handing the video clip screening process to experts.

From a legal standpoint, large amounts of unchecked information — like what could be generated from safety devices — can work against a carrier in negligent supervision claims resulting from an accident. 

“A plaintiff’s attorney will subpoena anything that should have been reviewed by the carrier, including data showing unsafe driving behavior,” said Mark Schedler, senior editor of transport management at J. J. Keller & Associates Inc., the transport industry’s trusted safety and compliance expert since 1953. 

Reviewing alerts and video footage to find situations that warrant training requires time and attention, and it can quickly become overwhelming for safety compliance departments. 

“The underlying reason to consider a VRS is risk reduction and to help the carrier uphold their ‘duty to act’ and resolve their drivers’ unsafe behaviors that put the public at risk. Carrier safety management controls, or policies and procedures that support the safety program, must account for and require people to act on all unsafe driving data that a carrier ‘should have been aware of,’” Schedler said. 

Because a competent VRS is staffed with experienced individuals who review all alerts, they can quickly identify the instances that deserve immediate attention, which isn’t always possible with limited carrier staffing and inexperienced reviewers. 

“If you’re approaching a driver to talk about something that happened weeks ago, it’s not very effective. If something happened on the road today, you’d want to acknowledge that with the driver in the next couple of days at the latest to say, ‘Here’s what we would have preferred that you do. Here’s the plan for corrective action training,’” said McHenry Johnson, senior client success manager at J. J. Keller & Associates. 

While companies use dashcams to quickly address unsafe driving events after they happen, carriers should also want to use them as a coaching mechanism to mitigate risk and lower insurance costs. These reasons were what drove Enviro-Eze Transport Inc., a Canadian transportation and logistics provider, to seek out a dashcam and VRS partner. It wanted to know the full story behind unsafe driving events, which required both driver-facing and street-facing capabilities and AI-powered alerts. 

Enviro-Eze – a premier provider of transportation and logistics services out of Southwest Ontario –  decided on J. J. Keller’s VideoProtects AI-powered dashcam and the J. J. Keller Video Review Service after exploring two other options. Jeff Rooyakkers, operations manager at Enviro-Eze, said that in the first year of using VideoProtects and the J. J. Keller Video Review Service, the company was able to dramatically cut its driver cellphone usage and detect and mitigate numerous unsafe driving behaviors. 

“When we implemented VideoProtects, our distracted driving was corrected almost immediately,” Rooyakkers said.

This included immediate intervention, such as in the case of one driver the system identified as fatigued. Based on the driver’s eye movements, the system recorded the event and sent a text message to Rooyakkers. He was able to call the driver immediately and instruct him to pull over to rest. 

“If you’re truly reading the documents you’re getting, watching the videos, and looking at the statistics from the VRS, you can’t predict when that accident is going to happen, but you can definitely predict that that driver is going to have an accident,” Rooyakkers said. “We use coaching tools here and training tools to help eliminate that and hopefully prevent it in the future.” 

How a VRS works 

A VRS screens videos so that only scored events are passed along to carriers. Auditors will dismiss anything they deem as a false positive or a low level, which greatly reduces the number of events a carrier has to review and allows them to only focus on the issues they are concerned with. 

“We have a scoring system that all of our auditors use, so you know it will be consistent. We meet with each company to tweak that so if there are certain things that they’re more concerned about, we’re going to focus on those,” Johnson added about J. J. Keller’s Video Review Service

Beyond mitigating behavior that puts drivers at risk, Rooyakkers added that their VRS sends out driver report cards to drivers, which contain only “real numbers from real videos that have been watched by real people.” This helps build trust with drivers.

“If a driver has an issue with a scorecard, they can come to me. We can pull all their videos and go through them, and I guarantee you every single one they look at will be accurate because they’ve been reviewed,” Rooyakkers added. 

Best practices for dashcam and VRS implementation 

Before carriers implement a video review service, Schedler recommends they participate in a test period of two to three months. This period allows the carrier to trust that their VRS partner is capturing the events most important to the carrier.

“The carrier has to trust the video review service. “A carrier that thinks the VRS provider is hammering them with unnecessary or irrelevant videos feels like their time is wasted. On the other hand, not receiving enough videos could make a carrier feel as though they are missing videos that could create risk.’” Schedler said. 

This test period is also critical to ensure drivers are on board with a new safety tool measuring their behavior. Enviro-Eze was intentional about their approach to the introduction of cameras. The company informed drivers of their decision to install cameras and alleviated concerns by installing dashcams one by one to get drivers comfortable with the idea. 

“It’s hugely important to make sure that the driver understands that these are not put in for a negative reason. These are put in as a coaching and learning tool,” Rooyakkers said. 

J. J. Keller’s Video Review Service helps clients using Encompass Video Event Management and VideoProtects Video Management get the most from their dashcams. J. J. Keller’s team ensures smooth implementation by evaluating the driver and system behavior to substantiate a carrier’s primary risk events, fine-tune camera settings, and discuss the scoring system. They regularly review driver events, make training recommendations, stay on top of recordkeeping functions, and more. 

“Both regular meetings, regular touchpoints, and just having someone you can rely on if questions come up can make a huge difference,” said Johnson.


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