April 30, 2015 11:00 AM, EDT

NTSB Recommends Video Recorders on Heavy Trucks and Buses

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The National Transportation Safety Board on April 29 issued a recommendation that heavy truck and bus fleet operators deploy video system recorder technology to monitor their drivers.

The systems also can provide valuable information for post-crash investigations, NTSB said in a safety alert.

“These video systems serve as a proactive tool to identify and reduce risky driving behavior, such as speeding, distracted driving or drowsy driving,” NTSB said.

A recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute assessed the effectiveness of DriveCam, an event-based onboard video system, when equipped on heavy trucks and buses. The study examined 10,648 crashes involving heavy trucks and buses pulled from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration General Estimates System from 2010 to 2012.

“The DriveCam event-based video system, combined with the driver behavior modification system, accounted for estimated reductions in fatal and injury crashes of 20% and 35%, respectively,” NTSB said. “Although the quantitative model used to derive these estimates has limitations, the results illustrate the significant potential benefit of commercial vehicle onboard video systems.”

In an investigation of two severe commercial vehicle crashes, NTSB concluded that onboard video systems, both continuous and event-based, can provide valuable information for evaluating the circumstances leading to a crash, as well as critical vehicle dynamics and occupant kinematics data for assessing crash survivability.

Those alerted to the recommendation included the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Trucking Associations.

NTSB recommended that ATA encourage its members to ensure that any onboard video system in their vehicles provides visibility of the driver and of each occupant seating location, visibility forward of the vehicle, optimized frame rate and low-light recording capability.

In April 29 testimony before a House Transportation subcommittee hearing, Tom Kretsinger Jr., CEO of American Central Transport, said video event recorders are becoming increasingly popular in the trucking industry.

“Originally, these devices were perceived primarily as a post-crash exoneration tool,” said Kretsinger, who also testified on behalf of ATA. “However, fleets quickly began to realize the benefits of being alerted to risky driving behaviors and the opportunity to provide subsequent driver coaching to prevent future crashes.”