Video monitors can save lives and prevent crashes - fact or fiction?

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 5/9/2014

A Virginia Tech study has concluded that video monitoring in trucks can dramatically reduce the number of collisions and fatalities. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is taking issue with the study’s claim.

“We see no significant safety benefit based on the study as it relies on faulty methodology and leaps to conclusions based on inaccurate assumptions and wording regarding truck crashes,” says Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for OOIDA. “A ‘critical reason’ is not the same as a cause and a ‘safety related event’ is not the same as a crash.”

The study, commissioned by Lytx Inc., evaluated the potential benefits of installing Lytx’s DriveCam program in all heavy trucks and buses.

Researchers Susan Soccolich and Jeffrey S. Hickman concluded that more than 25,000 crashes and 800 fatalities could potentially be prevented annually if all large trucks and buses were equipped with DriveCam.

Taylor says the study’s sweeping statements appear to attempt to substitute thorough training and experience with technology.

“Correcting driver behavior should take place long before a driver gets a CDL. Also, a dash camera doesn’t see everything going on that a trainer in the cab would observe such as traffic, weather and other correlating factors,” she said this week in an interview with USA Today.

“This overall discussion sheds light on the need for minimum standards for training since right now there are absolutely no training requirements to get a CDL.”

The study states that results were obtained by comparing a study on DriveCam’s efficacy, also authored by Hickman, to a large national crash database. Crashes that occurred during the calendar years of 2010 to 2012 were used. To determine which crashes could have been prevented with DriveCam, the study filtered out crashes that were non-fault or the result of weather, road conditions, vehicle malfunction or alcohol/drugs.

Taylor points out that there are no accidents before or after the study to compare valid numbers, and there is no reason to conclude that correcting certain behaviors after the fact will prevent any fatalities.

According to Virginia Tech, the formula used to calculate the results used a 75.5 percent reduction rate in crashes due to DriveCam use from a 2009 FMCSA study, which Hickman was also a part of. That reduction rate from the 2009 study was put up against the numbers Hickman and Soccolich filtered from the national crash database.
Soccolich and Hickman acknowledge in their report that “to date no published study has shown the potential reduction in fatal and injury crashes using Lytx’s DriveCam Program.” The current study was to highlight potential effects.

OOIDA’s Taylor says that is the only part of the study OOIDA agrees with.

Copyright © OOIDA