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Truck operators save with Smart Witness vehicle black box

Croydon, London, UK:  Operators who install Smart Witness on-board recording videos cite lower insurance premiums, improved driver performance and an ability to defend themselves against false claims as three of the system’s main benefits.

SmartWitness provides vital, accurate information in the event of an accident, cutting insurance claim costs by as much as 50% and protecting operators against malicious and false claims.

Smart Witness is linked to Google Earth and Google Maps so not only does the system provide speed and positional data it also shows exact locations and road conditions, signage, and even road markings

Smart Witness is linked to Google Earth and Google Maps so not only does the system provide speed and positional data it also shows exact locations and road conditions, signage, and even road markings

“No other on-board recording system delivers benefits that include lower insurance costs, enhanced safety, driver appraisals and cloud upload to insurance brokers and companies allowing fast resolution of claims,” says Nick Plowman at SmartWitness.

SmartWitness says its on-board camera-based system provides fleet managers and haulage firms complete protection against the threat posed by fraudulent insurance claims.

It works by continuously and accurately recording braking and acceleration speeds and collision G-forces. But SmartWitness is far more than just an on-board camera recording video: it includes critical data about vehicle location, speed and deceleration.  And it comes with the software to allow users to upload data via the internet directly to insurance brokers and companies.

Operators say that SmartWitness enables them to nip complaints and false insurance claims in the bud. In some cases HGVs are blamed for 50/50 type incidents such as lane discipline and roundabout accidents.

Chris Pickles, commercial manager, Devereux Transport and Distribution, points to the “nasty” motorcycle accident shown in a video. (Click to watch)

“SmartWitness enables operators and drivers to defend themselves,” says Pickles. “The video shows any accident or incident clearly and exactly who is to blame.”

Pickles also highlights lower insurance costs as another benefit. “We put the system in our vehicles in June last year, mainly because our insurer had asked for what we felt was a higher than reasonable increase in our premium… we agreed to put the cameras in and the insurer agreed to reduce the premium!”

Simon Thompson, distribution manager at temperature-controlled operator Grocontinental, agrees that SmartWitness can bring down costs.

“SmartWitness, when utilised alongside our other disciplines, is a massive leap forward and one which has had and will have an enormous impact on our accident costs,” says Thompson.

Market Harborough-based Stephen Sanderson Transport introduced the system in January 2012. The company installed the cameras on its entire fleet of 65 artics/rigids.

SmartWitness systems can be set to the exact needs of operators and their vehicles so that deviations from acceptable driving standards such as cornering speeds, acceleration and braking, are instantly shown

SmartWitness systems can be set to the exact needs of operators and their vehicles so that deviations from acceptable driving standards such as cornering speeds, acceleration and braking, are instantly shown

Managing director Steve Sanderson says: “SmartWitness has actually been a godsend. In the past, when we’ve had a few minor bumps and the driver said, ‘it wasn’t my fault, somebody hit me,’ we haven’t had any evidence. After introducing SmartWitness we had a year of wonderful driving in 2012. I think it’s improved our drivers’ driving to be honest with you.”

Sanderson says that he expects his insurance premiums to come down eventually by proving that the cameras are “making our drivers drive better and reducing our accidents.”

Sanderson is also impressed with the reasonable price of the system and the fact that none of the black boxes supplied have been faulty.

SmartWitness is linked to Google Earth and Google Maps so not only does the system provide positional data it also shows exact locations and road conditions, signage, and even road markings.  “Within two hours of an accident operators can submit a report to the insurer that shows exact location, vehicle speed, deceleration, road conditions, as well as video footage of the accident,” Plowman says.

“Speed is of the essence when it comes to dealing with insurance claims,” says Plowman.  “You cannot wait a day or two to post information: insurance companies need data immediately to stop escalation of claims in the event of an accident where it’s your fault. That instantly eliminates spurious car hire, injury and repair claims. With SmartWitness technology protecting you there should no longer be any 50/50 or ‘knock for knock’ claims” Plowman says.

The SmartWitness system starts with a camera made by the company to its own exacting specification that includes a wide angle, 170-degree lens. “That wide angle view is vital if the camera is to record enough of the road to provide court admissible evidence,” Plowman says.

The cameras are available in lockable, tamper-proof versions and have E9 European Approval, certified as suitable for commercial vehicle installation. The lockable case prevents access to the unit, buttons and the SD media card. Permanent wiring enables the unit to be wired into the vehicle’s power source.

The camera digitally records the driver’s view onto SD cards providing operators with court admissible evidence that protects against fraudulent claims and falsely accused driving offences.

The SmartWitness range is completely unobtrusive for the driver and also provides a vital tool in accurate driver appraisals. It can significantly modify driver behaviour which in turn reduces fuel costs and the potential risk of accidents.

“The cameras and equipment are exceptionally reliable with a failure rate of less than 0.002%, SmartWitness is the only choice for complete claims control and long-term fleet premium reductions,” Plowman says.