When Swift Transportation announced that it would be installing driver-facing cameras in its trucks, the reaction from truck drivers was nothing if not vocal. Drivers have taken to Facebook and other forums to declare that they would do anything from driving naked to putting duct tape over the camera to leaving their jobs if they were forced to drive in a truck with what many have called an “absolutely insane” invasion of privacy.
Increasing Pressure To Make Truck Drivers Safer
But high profile accidents like the one involving Tracy Morgan and the Walmart truck driver are shining a spotlight on the trucking industry and putting pressure on companies to do something — anything — to show that they are addressing the problem. So, in spite of the outcry from truck drivers nationwide and the looming driver shortage, many trucking companies are expected to adopt the new technology in the months and years to come.
Supporters of driver-facing cameras say that the privacy invasion will be minimal, with cameras only recording a few seconds before, during and after an event. Swift Transportation has taken great pains to assure drivers that the cameras will not record all of the time, but many in the trucking industry remain skeptical about whether Swift will overstep their boundaries.
Studies Show Better Driving Behavior When Observed
What seems to be a more compelling argument for the cameras is the increased safety for both trucker and motorists. The cameras give the illusion of observation, which could have a huge impact on the way drivers behave behind the wheel. A 2011 study showed that hanging posters depicting observant eyes deterred bad behavior by up to 50%. And the NTSB has pushed hard for driver-facing cameras as a safety measure. The food distributor Bozzuto’s says that they have seen a 22 percent drop in accidents and impressive improvement in safety metrics after their first two years with the driver-facing cameras.
Privacy Vs. Safety
The debate over driver-facing cameras essentially boils down to this basic question: would you be willing to give up some of your privacy in exchange for a better chance of making it home to your family?
In the end, the most compelling arguments for and against driver-facing cameras come from the people who have the most at risk and the most to gain from them — the drivers themselves. Here’s what CDLLife readers had to say:
“I was talking to a propane delivery driver this morning and his truck has them. As a result of the inward-facing cameras they are now banned from eating, drinking and using the phone with a Bluetooth. I’m sorry but if I want to drink a cup of coffee while I am driving down the road or have a snack that should be my choice.” — Chris Milburn
“I’m a current lease op for Swift now. All I can say is this can be a blessing or a nightmare, but some of our lease drivers and company drivers do pull some insane and dangerous stuff. I know I’m not perfect by far but I seen drivers who text or eat while behind the wheel and I’m not talkin’ about a one hand item such as pizza or a burger either.” — Terry Stockdale
“Get ready everyone! You’re going to see more and more companies doing this. Melton has already made the move. And with talk of adding incentives to lower a company’s CSA score for being proactive even more are going to get onboard.” — Matt Massena
“I would never work for Swift. Forward facing is fine with me but facing into the cab is absolutely insane. Drivers live in these trucks. Why do they need this? How would management feel about cameras spying on their every move at home, in their offices, and bathrooms??? — Tim Stuart