Driver-facing cameras deliver real-time results, but drivers aren’t onboard

Inside Lane Exclusive: In the ever-evolving landscape of fleet management, driver-facing cameras (DFCs) have emerged as a sought-after technology for owners.

Driver-facing cameras deliver real-time results, but drivers aren’t onboard

By Bianca Prieto | Editor, The Inside Lane

Sue O’Bryan doesn’t want to be monitored by a driver-facing camera - especially when the truck she’s driving isn’t rolling.

“It feels like an invasion of privacy,” said O’Bryan, who has been an over-the-road driver since 1995. “When I get in the truck, I do what I’m supposed to do, what I’m responsible for, what the company asks me to do. If they don’t trust me, they shouldn’t hire me.”

Driver-facing cameras, or DFCs, are the latest tech trend poised to significantly influence two major pain points in the industry - driver safety and fleet operations costs.  

There are many misconceptions about when DFCs are rolling and when they are not, which causes apprehension among drivers. Simply put, DFCs are only turned on and recording when the truck is in motion – though depending who you ask, some privacy concerns linger.

But it's important to remember that the overall technology of dashcams poses quite a few benefits for drivers.

These dashcams play a pivotal role in mitigating distracted driving by actively monitoring and correcting risky driver behaviors. They also provide valuable real-time data for incident analysis, and opportunities for live driver coaching can enhance overall road safety.

Distracted driving causes about 3,000 deaths on American roads each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All drivers, not just professional drivers, are at risk of causing an accident because of distracted driving including cell phone use. 

A report by Frost and Sullivan, an analyst known for their annual insights on vehicle telematics technology found in 2020 that video telematics like DFCs lead to substantial decreases in driver distraction. Monitoring cameras reduce driver distraction by 80%, a 65% reduction in speeding, a 60% decrease in collisions, a 25% reduction in insurance claims and a 70% increase in seat belt usage.

Drivers feel cameras are too invasive

O’Bryan, who has been a long-haul driver since before GPS and cell phones were common, has worked her career through various waves of technology in the trucking industry. She retired in 2023 and has considered going back to trucking. 

With privacy concerns top of mind for drivers, adopting this technology has been challenging.

The fear of constant surveillance raises questions about the balance between operational oversight and personal space. O’Bryan has not had a DFC in her work truck, but she doesn’t want one.

And, it appears, neither do her colleagues.

The American Transportation Research Institute recently surveyed about 2,100 drivers and found that “truck drivers do not hold DFCs in high regard.” 

The respondents were majority 45 to 64-year-old men, who drive regional routes between 100-500 miles per trip and had more than 21 years on the job.

A recent poll of subscribers to The Inside Lane found that 88% said they don’t feel that driver-facing cameras, or DFCs, keep them any safer. 

In-cab cameras are legal in all 50 states, but not all drivers accept the technology that delivers driver monitoring. Misconceptions about what the driver-facing cameras can do, when they are rolling and how invasive they can be for employees, can impact opinions.

This raises a critical question: what is the benefit of these devices?

The answer for some: fleet and driver safety.

Safety benefits of in-cab cameras 

Amid driver skepticism, there are company success stories. 

Samsara, a software company that sells telematics including DFCs, attests to the effectiveness of its driver cams for its clients. 

“Due to rising accident rates, increased in-cab distractions, and skyrocketing legal settlements, fleet managers increasingly see safety as not only a risk to their drivers but also to their bottom line,” Samsara wrote in a blog post about its video telematics.

According to their statement, studies indicate that video telematics solutions not only reduce accidents but also assist significantly in incident investigations. 

For instance, after incorporating Samsara’s AI-powered dash cams, Summit Materials which operates a fleet of 4,000 vehicles, saw a significant increase in driver engagement and safety. 

“Summit is able to quickly retrieve incident footage, train drivers on safe driving practices, and reward drivers with the best Safety Scores across regions,” Samsara wrote. “This has resulted in a 50% decrease in preventable incidents in one year.”

According to The Inside Lane’s Fleet Report, fleet owners are investing heavily in telematics, but only 30 percent said they have driver-facing cameras. To read that report, complete a short survey here. 

The battle over video monitoring has been ongoing for more than a decade. A research study in 2009 by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that “onboard safety monitoring devices” resulted in a significant drop in safety-critical events when safety directors could access the video and take corrective action or remedial training, according to the ATRI.

More recent research by the AAA Foundation, cited by the ATRI, estimated that video-based safety monitoring systems could potentially prevent more than 63,000 truck-involved crashes, nearly 2,800 injuries, and almost 300 deaths. 

“RFC systems are growing in popularity with both truck drivers and motor carriers primarily because of their ability to accurately capture safety event data, which often exonerates truck drivers and motor carriers from claims of negligence,” according to the study. “Of equal importance is their ability to identify truck driver and/or fleet negligence – allowing the parties to settle cases more quickly and at a lower cost.”

The debate over driver-facing cameras presents a complex intersection of safety, privacy, and technological progression. 

While the data advocates for the efficacy of DFCs in enhancing road safety and reducing operational costs, the apprehension among drivers like Sue O’Bryan, cannot be disregarded. 

The trucking industry must navigate this challenging terrain, striving to harmonize the technological benefits of DFCs with the genuine privacy concerns of its drivers. 

As this technology continues to evolve and integrate into the fabric of fleet operations, finding a balanced approach that respects both safety and privacy will be essential in moving forward.

For more insights and updates on the evolving landscape of trucking technology, subscribe to The Inside Lane newsletter.


American Transportation Research Institute. (2023, April). Issues and Opportunities with Driver-Facing Cameras. Retrieved from

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (2022, April 26) Distracted Driving. Retrieved from