© 2018 Transport Topics. All rights reserved

About UsEpisode ArchiveSubscribe

Listen to most recent episode of Road Signs





Until recently, what happened on the road, stayed on the road. Trucking businesses had little opportunity to monitor and measure fundamental parts of their operations, and drivers were on their own to battle claims. The enterprise had no way to see in and suffered as a result.

Now, on-board cameras provide that same enterprise with a view of the road and the cab. Fleets use the devices to help with everything from employee training to risk management. But does such use pay dividends? Will on-board cameras lead fleets to greater efficiency, better safety records, and stronger decision making? Listen in, as host Seth Clevenger asks two leading field experts to help him understand the real value of these devices.


Adam Kahn brings over 25 years of transportation experience to lead Netradyne’s Fleet Business. Adam draws from years with leading technology companies as well as his generational trucking heritage to focus on delivering technology that continuously improves the safety environment for drivers, working as their advocate to ensure that they are successful at work and get home to their family at night.

Jim Angel is vice president of Video Intelligence Solutions for trimble. Angel has a wealth of experience in Truckload, LTL and Provate Fleet Management and uses this knowledge to bring practical technology applications to the industry.

Adam Kahn

Jim Angel

EP. 3

Brought to you by:

Guest One, Adam Kahn

Episode Transcript

From Transport Topics in Washington, D.C., this is RoadSigns. Here is your host, Seth Clevenger.

Seth: Thank you for listening to RoadSigns, the podcast series from Transport Topics that explores the trends and technologies that are shaping the future of trucking. In this episode, we're going to examine the dramatic growth of onboard video in the trucking industry. A decade ago, video systems were still just a niche offering, but today you'll find everything from basic dash cams to sophisticated video-based safety systems installed in trucks. But what's driving this expansion of onboard video and trucking? And where's this technology going in the future? We'll set out to answer those questions in this episode to get a better sense of what's happening in the onboard video market. I recently sat down with two technology suppliers that are offering different types of video systems for commercial trucks. Later in the program, you'll hear from Jim Angel, vice president for Trimble's Video Intelligence product line. But let's start with my conversation with Adam Khan, Netradyne, one of the newer players in this market. Let's go ahead and play those interviews.

We're here in Denver in McLeod Software's 2019 User Conference, and we're very pleased to welcome Adam Khan, who's the president of Fleet Business at Netradyne, a provider of camera-based safety technology for trucks. Thanks for joining us, Adam.

Adam: Hey, Seth. Great to be here. I really appreciate the time to spend with you.

Seth: Absolutely. And, you know, we've really seen onboard video has become a big trend in trucking technology over the past several years. It's really becoming much more prevalent in this industry. And one of the reason fleets are moving toward onboard video is liability protection in the event of a crash. But it's also an opportunity for driver monitoring, a driver coaching to enhance safety. So, Adam, I want to get your thoughts on what factors you see driving adoption of onboard video and trucking.

Adam: Well, I think the category is very powerful in a couple of ways. One is, it protects drivers. A lot of cases the drivers are doing their job and the environment happens around them. And there's nobody there to really tell the driver’s story. And so video really serves as a great storytelling device to say what happened? What was I doing? What was the other car doing? What was the environment doing? And it's really a third witness to every event that happens. And a lot of cases, the drivers don't have that support. Now, for the fleets, I think it's tougher and tougher litigious society that's happening. And it's,I use the analogy of water finding the crack in the wall that the really aggressive lawyers will find the way to go win the lawsuits against fleets. And in cases where they used to just go after the fleet saying, well, you're unprotected, you can't claim, you can't defend yourself. That was the first justification of cameras. But the current justification is really is protecting your safety culture and defending that. Not only are you taking care of each driver, but you've now implemented a safety culture around all of your drivers and all of your vehicles.

Seth: Perfect. You know, one of the big decisions fleets make as they look to implement onboard video is whether to install only outward facing cameras that track the road ahead or to go further and have both outward and inward facing cameras that also monitor the driver. So, Adam, how are fleets making that decision and what's the breakdown among your customers for fleets that opt for outward only versus the two way cameras?

Adam: Yeah. So I think there's a value proposition for both outward has the obvious value proposition of what's happened outside the vehicle. And a lot of cases you have mystery damage or crashes that happen or, you know, any kind of event that happens where you really need to figure out what happened outside the vehicle, outward facing as it is just the perfect utility for that, inward facing is not for every fleet. One of the balance points that we have with fleets is the recruitment of drivers. And some drivers are just they don't want to be recorded. And so the decision is made do I put an inward facing camera or do I not have a driver? And it's a tough decision. Right. So the piece that we really focus on is retaining that driver once you have it. So can you put the right type of program that makes the driver engaged and wants to participate? The value proposition of inward facing is really getting the driver out of those tough incidents and removing them from the scene. So a crash happens. You can verify that the driver was wearing a seat belt. The driver had his hands on the wheel. He had good eyes, good scanning the road. The moment that I can eliminate that driver from that conversation removes all the stress on the driver. What we're seeing is for-hire fleets, it's maybe a 50/50 split between fleets to point inward facing, outward facing. And a lot of that's culture. The fleets that have really spent time with their drivers. The drivers respond, you know, through engagement, private fleets tend to be 75, 25 using it. And then the third segment that I really see a high adoption, is service. So any type of fleet that carries passengers — school bus, metropolitan or they go residential, too, and they call on homes for service, carpet cleaning, for example, it's almost 90 percent. And a lot of that, they really want to protect the brand. They want to make sure their drivers have the right uniform on. And they're driving to code and they're presentable. And they're just, they're the face of the organization. And that's a great way to sort of verify that and validate that.

Seth: OK. Now, there are a lot of different camera systems on the market these days. I mean, these range from your basic dash cams all the way up to full safety programs for the benefit of those listeners who aren't familiar with Netradyne, could you briefly explain what's unique about your company's Driveri system? How is this unique compared to some of the other products in the market?

Adam: Yes. So, my position I've been in the camera space for about seven years and I've seen a really dynamic change of the buyer. The original buyer was I need camera to protect me in crashes. As the buyer journeys progressed, now it's need a camera system to really implement a safety culture, and that's a great progression. My personal position is every commercial driver should have a camera inside their vehicle, whether it's a dash cam which helps exonerate that one incident or you have a safety program that you can really implement that whole safety culture. And Driveri starts to be part of that. That environment where it's a safety culture piece, the piece I really think that differentiates Driveri is because it has edge computing, which means it does all the computation at the device. We actually see all the video that happens. There's two really powerful pivots that happen from that. One is, I have context. I don't have to wait for a sliver of data to figure out what happened. But the other one is I can validate the good driving that's happening. So in a vehicle that travels 100,000 miles a year, you have to drive about 500 minutes a day to hit that number. Why not have a good profile of what those 500 minutes are? In most cases, we're seeing our driver committee in the 90, 95 percent of the time where they have excellent driving that should be rewarded and recognized. And it's underserved today. And I think that's where Driveri starts that conversation of recognition and appreciation.

Seth: And we're here at a software conference and there's, of course, been a lot of conversation about the advance of technology and where it's going. So I do want to ask you about how Netradyne is using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Adam: So. So that's one of the fundamentals of our product. So as I think about the different sensor inputs, we have vehicle movement data. We have inertial sensors. So it's harsh braking, hard turns, hard stops. But we also use vision as an indicator. So we have artificial intelligence that identifies traffic lights, stop signs, dynamic following distance, and all that information is brought into the device for almost real-time computation of those of those events. The machine learning piece, which is interesting, is as I analyze that information and I can start to learn about the roads, I can update my code. Unlike the Driveri device, as an example, a driver comes down the road and he sees a stop sign. But the stop sign says garage sale Tuesday. Now a vision-based system will pick up the image and say that's a stop sign. The driver will say that's not a stop sign. And so the system now recognizes what's called a false positive. We take that information, we recalibrate it into our algorithms, and every month we push an update out to the system. So the next month, that driver goes by that intersection. The system smart enough to ignore that that garage sale sign. Right. So it's just it's actively learning. The more that the system drives, the more that the drivers travel those routes. It picks up on all that road knowledge.

Seth: Understood. Interesting to see how this is all evolving for sure. I want to go back and talk a little bit more about the liability protection angle. Just how often do you see cases where just having onboard video exonerates drivers when they aren't at fault in accidents? Is this a fairly common occurrence in these events?

Adam: Yeah. So I'll share a story. So at the McLeod conference, they’re wonderful hosts and you know, we all had dinner last night. I got back to my room and I saw a note from one of our customers who said, can you help me retrieve some video? And in all actuality, that system had already retrieved the video. The fleet had an accident. It was raining yesterday in Detroit and one of their vehicles struck another vehicle. That video was available within three minutes to the fleet manager. He shared it with the driver through the Driveri app. So now the driver had it, that video on scene. And so there was no witness. Best best guess of what happened. That video on the scene helped to really navigate exactly what the next steps were for that driver, for that patrolman, for the witnesses, for the third party that was involved in that. And it just shortens that whole process. And fleets that find that when their drivers are at fault, they use that information to settle as quickly as possible. Now, in the cases where their drivers are not at fault, it's a wonderful tool to hunker down and be stubborn and defend your fleet and your drivers as vigorously as you can.

Seth: Absolutely. And again, shifting to the driver monitoring and safety side of this. You know, I think it's important to note that driver monitor, driver monitoring doesn't have to just be punitive. You can also be a way to reward safe drivers. Right. You know, what's your approach to that?

Adam: Well, we have a feature called DriverStar and an example of a DriverStar is a vehicle's in the right hand lane, driving the right speed, having good following distance. Somebody comes and cuts you off. The right training is to create space. So we actually picked that maneuver up where vehicles are creating space, where they're getting cut off. We call that a DriverStar. I looked at last month our top five customers and we have in that pool of top five customers, there's five and a half times more DriverStars than heartbreaking events. So historically, a heartbreak has been a wonderful indicator of maybe a predictor of something worse is going to happen. I might advocate that if you have five times more data on something that might be the area that you focus your KPI on versus a fifth of the data, which was historically bad. Now I have five times more data to say I've such a bigger pool to now analyze and figure out how my drivers are doing. So. I'm a huge advocate for leaning into the positive. You know, the thumbs up, you know. How do you use the positive engagement to engage your drivers ‘cause an engaged driver is always going to be a much more powerful one that doesn't want to talk to you about it.

Seth: You must also just look ahead now. You know, what do you think is next for onboard video and trucking? You know, how will this segment of the trucking technology business evolve in the years ahead where you see it all going?

Adam: So I think there's a great progression of vehicles getting smarter. And I think there's a nice convergence between AI and road knowledge to allowing the vehicle to use that information to either adaptive braking or now proactive braking. The other piece that I think is really interesting, for the two years we've been selling Driveri, we have about 500 million minutes of data that's collected every month. We have about 750 unique miles that we generate. So I think there's a lot of richness that can be drawn from those driving patterns. If I can look at an intersection that I've had a vehicle go over 20 or 30 times in a week, I now know the dynamics of that intersection. What's the light pattern? What's the speeding pattern? How many vehicles are typically in that intersection? And it's really powerful information when you take that data set and now you embed it back into something like McLeod and now you have smart dispatch with road knowledge, with safety parameters. It starts to create a richer set of intelligence in terms of fleet productivity.

Seth: Yeah, certainly a lot of room for growth. And it'll be exciting to watch in the years ahead. Absolutely. Oh, I think this is a good point to wrap it up, but thanks again for taking time out of a busy conference to share your thoughts with us.

Adam: Now, I appreciate the time. Thanks. Absolutely.

Seth: We're here at Trimble's 2019 Insight user conference in Houston. And next up, I'm pleased to bring in Jim Angel is the Vice President of Video Intelligence of Trimble. Thanks for joining us, Jim. So we've really seen a lot of growth in onboard video in the trucking industry over the past five years or so. And there are a number of reasons for that, I think. That includes liability protection and, of course, driver coaching. But, Jim, I want to get your thoughts. What do you see as the main factors driving adoption of video that we've really seen loss and failures?

Jim: Well, I think you're exactly right. I think those are still the two primary purposes and reasons. You know, statistics tell us that our truck drivers are only at fault about 20 percent of the time. And so that exoneration from liability is a huge reason. And quite honestly, the number one ROI reason that you get for video. But it does go farther than that. And that is the ability to visually show that driver opportunities of improvement that can then reduce that 20 percent to 16 to 14 to 12 to make those drivers safer as well. And without that visualization, you really don't get the opportunity of coaching by only data alone. And then probably if you added a third to that, it's really just I want to know the whole story. There are situations where that truck driver is not involved with another vehicle, but maybe something happened to the driver. Maybe it's just running off the road, things like that. Video gives you kind of a better way to wrap your arms around what was the root cause? What can I learn from that to make my operation better, to make my driver safer? Is there things about my equipment that I need to know? So I think it's kind of that more information is better as we try to prove data. I think it's the same thing with video is the more information I can get, the better operational decisions I can make. So I think it's definitely heavier in the first two, without a doubt. But I think you start to gain additional benefit after you get creative with the solution. OK.

Seth: And you know, just how often do your customers encounter situation where the video exonerates drivers who worked at fault in an accident? You do see this come up fairly regularly. How often does that occur?

Jim: Oh, absolutely. And it probably would have been a really good idea to just start keeping a scorecard of the e-mails and the phone calls that we get. One of my favorite is an e-mail that we've got. And we actually had to recover the video for this client because the tractor had heavy damage, had fire damage, abrupt power shu down. So they sent us the DVR. We recovered it. And the simple e-mail that I got back is it can't thank your team enough, Jim. This video's probably worth over a million dollars to us. And so that's really just that is an example of the story we get. Or their driver that didn't get the ticket or the case that they thought was going to be a $150,000  claim. It would be great to know what the actual number is. But those consistently come in. And obviously the fact that we've had very little churn of customers and they deliver product, they're now expanding and that, you know, we've doubled in size over that same period of time. I think that just speaks very, very well of the product and the benefits that it provides to the carrier.

Seth: Sure, as video has become more popular. The trucking industry, we also seen a lot of employers come in. A lot of technology companies that are offering systems as part of that. You see a lot of different configurations.

And one of the first decisions for fleet managers is whether or not to include a driver facing camera or only have an outward facing.

So, Jim, I want to get you your thoughts on where you stand on that decision. What do you see as the pros and cons?

Jim: This question doesn't ever seem to go away. Right. And it is it's a great question, but it really comes down to what is that carrier's goal? And I always try to point out that, you know, somebody hauling hazmat is a completely different situation than somebody hauling just drive freight. Right.

And so there might be company policy reasons that they want to know, is a driver smoking in the cab or something like that? I think when you look at that type of criteria, then, yeah, that's probably the information you want. Now, on the flip side of that is I think everybody has to be aware of the fact that anytime your driver is involved in an incident, that plaintiff attorney is going to come knocking and they're going to say, I need six months of whatever you have. And so let's just let's say three months ago, there was an example of a driver holding a cellphone or maybe a driver that had a Big Gulp in his hand and didn't have a seat belt strapped down. The plaintiff’s attorney wants to make a huge deal out of the fact that, hey, you never dealt with that. And if you would have dealt with that, maybe that driver wouldn't be here today and wouldn't have been involved in this accident where my client ran into the side of it. Right. And as silly as that sounds, that is some of the things that in our litigious environment that are carriers you're dealing with. So I think it really comes down to what's important to the carrier. And as a decision is being made, when you look at the vendors, availability is what do they have is important to my organization. And do they have the right equipment, the right coverage and are able to provide what that company's goal ultimately is and what they want to try to achieve?

It makes a lot of sense. Again, trucking is very diverse. Everybody has their own vision.

And, you know, the right answer for one fleet is not necessarily the right answer for another. But one thing I will say, of course, is that for onboard cameras to work, to have a successful deployment, you do need the buy in from the drivers.

Seth: So how can fleets ensure that their drivers accept the technology as a fleet needs to add cameras in or around the vehicle?

Jim: Communication is key. And in a lot of these cases, there are drivers within their fleet already that have a GoPro, have their own type of camera. Maybe they even use their phone in some methodology. And I think using those guys as examples or those gals as example is a good way to say, you know what, we see the importance of this. There has been videos that you've brought forward that absolutely exonerate you. Your driving technique weren't your fault. Therefore, you're keeping your job.

Therefore, you're keeping us stronger because we're not paying out false claims. And I think that's the way you have to talk to the drivers about it. Is this is about you. This is about your job protection. It's about your company's protection and use the statistics. Guys, we know you're only at fault less than 20 percent of the time. Let us have the right tool to be able to take advantage of those odds. And then. Yeah. By the way, if we spot something that you could do a little bit better, wouldn't you want us to talk to you about that? So I think communication is key. And I think drivers particularly now and you mentioned over the last five years, you are seeing a very high level of acceptance because that clear communication is done and drivers do see the advantages of it.

Seth: Sure and at Trimble, you've integrated side cameras as part of your product to get you closer to a 360-degree visibility around the vehicle. What kind of options are available these days?

What kinds of additional cameras can you add to the system and roughly what percentage of your customers are installing side cameras or other cameras beyond just the cab camera?

Jim: So we actually do have a rear facing camera available to for backup. We use a wireless transmitter and receiver, so that is optional and available for a tractor-trailer application. We definitely see a higher level. I would say approximately a third of our customers are using the right and left. And I think one of the stronger reasons we see maybe a little bit larger request for that in our business is that because we integrate with our Trimble telematics platform, we can bring that visual application into the cab as well. So the majority of our displays, you can actually by putting the blinker to the right hand side, we can bring that blindspot view into the cab for the driver. Driver puts it in reverse and you're using our backup. We can bring that visualization of the back of the trailer into the cab. So not only are recording that information and providing that history of a particular event, but we're also by being connected to our other telematics devices. We bring that application into the cab and also assist the driver as well.

Seth: To your point, Trimble, of course, has a whole range of technologies and different types of software systems of trucking that includes TMS systems for the back office and also onboard automatic systems. How do you connect video intelligence to the camera line with those other systems in the Trimble portfolio to tie it all together?

Jim: Well, that's that's really our secret sauce, right? So Trimble has been in telematics business for trucking for well over 17 years. And when we kicked video off four or five years ago, it has been five years ago now.

We wanted to make sure that we took advantage of that data. It's some of the best in the industry and being able to match up our onboard event second by second data and actually recording that from the ECM of the engine and being able to play the video that's associated with that data.

Quite honestly, nobody else does it like we were able to do that. And it's really because we're on that single platform. So the minute that event happens and we have that second in time, that date, date and time stamp, we go back and get 10 seconds before and after and we match it up with that metadata. And that provides a very powerful, powerful piece of information that allows you to investigate any incident or event, because we're bringing information that's associated with that. Is that what that video like, ECM speed, RPM, the position that that driver's foot is on the accelerator pedal, if they're using a dash equipment, we're going to give you the distance between you and the forward vehicle. We're going to give you the speed of the forward vehicle, which makes coaching a following too closely event. Very, very easy to do because you can explain to the driver, hey, you're going faster than them and you're closing at a rate of speed. That's not a safe situation.

So that integration piece is really kind of it's the cornerstone of how we built our system to be a single platform and be integrated. And by the way, you're only logging into one place to get to all this information, whereas you go with another provider, you're logging into two different places. You're trying to match data up with a different type of video. And when videos are triggered by an accelerometer, they're not ever going to match the type of data that you get directly off the ECM because they're not built the same and they're not the algorithms are not the same.

Seth: So let's just talk a little bit more about the safety side, the video that you alluded to. Are you seeing any kind of interesting ways that fleets are incorporating video into their safety? Grabs me, of course, this opens up some new opportunities on the coach drivers, but what are some of the latest examples that you've seen.

Jim: So I think tying it into deeper analytics is important. We have a program called Safety Analytics, which here at the show we recently announced our fatigue monitoring module that goes in association with that, which gives us the opportunity to tie anything that seen in a video, a risky behavior, for example, can be scored, selected, and then that data flows back into safety analytics, into another array of scoring, which covers speeding, which covers CSA violations, hours of service and all the driving behavior. And then all those scores are normalized and provided to the carrier on a nightly basis so that they can be proactive in talking to the right driver, but talking to the driver about the right thing to let's say the driver is doing great in three of the four categories.

He just has a heavy foot. So talk to him about his speeding, but pat him on the back for the fact that that never CSA violation. No, the driver logs violations and driving behavior is great, but he's just trying to get every place in too big of a hurry. So let's talk about that thing. Keep our selection shorter, be operationally efficient in discussing it with him and focus on the real issue rather than trying to worry about all of it that's available.

Seth: Right. And before I let you go, Jim, I just want to ask you what's on the horizon? What do you think is next for onboard video and trucking? How do you see this product line and then the use of video evolving in the future?

Jim: I think two big things. One, I think artificial intelligence is going to start playing a key role in edge analytics, things like being able to create events for rolling stop, stop sign, railroad crossing, construction, speed limit, having the camera visualize another opportunity to capture a type of event that would give the carrier information about that driver. Then the other thing is, is I think I think all of us vendors have to make a concerted effort to make coaching more automatic and easier. The hardest part about coaching a driver is getting them in, on their off day to sit down, watch a video with you, and then spend that 10 minutes talking about it.

The only way that that's going to be more and more and more successful is to make that easier and more efficient. I think those are the two big things that you'll see in the industry. And I know those are two of the things that we want to work on and spend a good amount of time on trying to figure out what's that right solution.

Seth: Stay tuned. Thanks again for taking time to speak with us Jim. We really appreciate your insights.

Jim: You bet. Thank you.

Seth: Before we wrap up, let's take a moment to reconsider our original questions. What factors are truly driving the expansion of onboard video and trucking? And how will this technology evolve in the future for many fleets? Video has become an integral part of their safety programs. They're using video for driver coaching and to eliminate dangerous driving habits proactively. It's also clear that liability protection is driving adoption of onboard video. Nuclear verdicts and expensive settlements have made it important for fleets to capture a record of what happens out on the road and protect themselves when their drivers are involved in crashes that they didn't cause. Trucking is a fragmented industry with many diverse applications, so it's no surprise that different fleets are using video in many different ways. As time goes on, fleets will find more uses for video to enhance safety and improve their operations. And considering the urgency for fleets and drivers to protect themselves from false claims, expect to see some form of forward facing camera in the cab of virtually every truck on the road from the largest fleets down to owner operators.

 That's it for season four of RoadSigns, but will return soon with more episodes exploring the trends and technologies that are transforming the trucking industry. Until then, I'm Seth Clevenger. Thank you for listening.

Guest Two,