Another interesting product that caught my eye is SmartDrive’s dash-cam. It’s a two-camera system – one faces the road, the other the driver – but unlike other systems, it connects to the engine ECU via CAN bus. As CEO Steve Mitgang explained to me, the SmartDrive system, because it’s plugged into the ECU, can detect a wide range of risky driving maneuvers, including those that wouldn’t rigger a recording to be saved by traditional dash cams. For example, it can detect when a driver runs a stop sign or makes a u-turn, because there’s a signature algorithm created for each of those events. If the system suspects a risky maneuver was undertaken, it saves 15 seconds before and after the event, sends it to SmartDrive, which reviews the tape and then only forwards it to the fleet in the event a driver did something bad or good.
The SmartDrive system is being used by some big fleets in the US, including one that is using it to supplement its How’s My Driving? decal program. Currently, when a driver generates a complaint via How’s My Driving?, that driver receives an automatic black mark and is presumed guilty. Now, this carrier is cross-checking the action that generated the complaint with the video, and finding that at times the driver had no choice but to take the action that generated the complaint. The program is available in Canada and costs about $500 per vehicle for the hardware and then about $40/month for the subscription. That’s not cheap, but Steve said as risk management costs soar, avoiding just one lawsuit would pay for the system many times over. More in the October issue and at www.smartdrive.net.
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