More eyes on the road can help make car and truck operators better drivers.
That’s the idea behind the Video Intelligence system from Minnetonka-based PeopleNet. Cameras are installed on trucks to document crashes and near crashes. That video evidence can speed the settlement of claims by verifying who is at fault. It’s also useful for driver monitoring and training.
PeopleNet is part of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Trimble Inc., which uses its GPS technology in a number of areas including the agriculture, construction and transportation industries. Last year, Trimble reported total revenue of $12.7 billion, up 12 percent, and earned $121.1 million.
PeopleNet is a significant part of Trimble’s Transportation Mobility division.
The company’s Video Intelligence Solutions, introduced in December 2015, works as part of PeopleNet’s onboard event-recording device. The truck and trailer’s anti-lock braking system sends a signal to the camera system to start recording based on settings established by the company.
Video captured from the cameras show harrowing crashes and near crashes.
Jim Angel, PeopleNet’s vice president of Video Intelligence Solutions, was a former trucking fleet manager and brought his experience of overseeing an operation with 3,000 trucks and 4,000 drivers to the product development efforts.
Video Intelligence was purposely built for the particular needs and requirements of trucking companies.
James Griffith, vice president of Conard Transportation Inc., runs a fleet of 40 trucks and 50 drivers within a 250-mile radius of the company’s headquarters in La Vergne, Tenn.
His business depends on keeping the trucks out on the road as much as possible. Conard has used Video Intelligence since 2015 and has quickly become dependent on it, Griffith said.
“It has really helped us to become a whole lot safer carrier,” Griffith said.
The system cost can be thousands for a large fleet, with the base equipment $600 to $800 per truck and the service $12 to $15 per month per truck, the company said.
Griffith said the expense for the system is justified because of reduced litigation costs since Conard has used it.
The video evidence can exonerate a driver on the spot, he said. If it shows drivers are at fault, the company can move quickly to settle cases with other drivers and insurance companies.
Griffith said his company’s drivers had three incidents in the last year, low for the number of miles they run, and quickly closed two of the cases based on the video evidence.
He thinks insurance companies used to be skeptical but have now embraced the technology.
“From a cost of defending yourself being able to say ‘Hey, yeah, we were at fault and here’s what happened,’ ” Griffith said. “To me, in my mind, it’s a little better than not just saying nothing and letting a jury guess.”
Griffith has also used the videos for driver monitoring and education. The ability to pull video of events where drivers reacted quickly and safely as well as incidents that violate best practices are useful teaching tools for all the drivers, he said.
Dustin Hobart is assistant safety manager of Alnye Trucking based in Moravia, N.Y. His company hauls bulk milk and petroleum products with a fleet of 70 to 80 trucks and 300 employees, 250 of them drivers. Alnye Trucking has been a PeopleNet client since 2009 and added the Video Intelligence system on six of its trucks recently.
Hobart said he most likes the software and equipment for reviewing safety concerns. Hobart can go into the system and pull video to review with drivers.
“I can either coach the driver for whatever he did wrong or exonerate our driver completely from whatever event it could have been,” Hobart said. “We’ve definitely seen a substantial return so far. Even after one claim, you are getting massive returns.”
Angel, who helped develop the product for PeopleNet, said the development team behind Video Intelligence works in two-week sprints to develop and roll out updates. In the two years the company has marketed the product, it has had 60 updates. The company now is working on a next generation version of the platform based on feedback from customers.
The system was built to be cloud-based and on an open platform so it can integrate if necessary with emerging technology from other companies.
PeopleNet will continue to work on its development because it sees video capabilities as core to the evolution of the trucking industry, including autonomous trucking, artificial intelligence and high-definition video.
“We are continually looking to advance our technology,” Angel said.