Telematics guides | Vehicle camera systems

A Guide To Vehicle Camera Systems

  • Get a 24-hour system to deal with vandalism
  • Helps to reduce your insurance quotes and claims costs
  • Use commercial systems for high quality features
Hardwired Vehicle Camera

What is a vehicle camera system?

A vehicle camera system, multi-channel camera system, or multi-camera solution, consists of a group of cameras placed around a vehicle or plant machinery. They can be installed facing the front, driver, nearside, offside, rear and cargo, covering all angles.

Vehicle camera systems can transmit images to screens inside the cab for the use of the driver. They can:

  • Cover the blind spots to the sides and rear of HGVs and other types of working vehicles.
  • Make plant machinery vehicles safer to manoeuvre, such as excavators, tippers, rollers, cranes and even forklifts.

Vehicle camera systems can also transmit to remote telematics or vehicle-tracking software (typically cloud-hosted and viewed in a browser) for the use of supervisors, fleet managers or operations managers. These systems can:

  • Monitor payloads and vehicles when unattended, such as loaded HGVs left overnight on long haul trips.
  • Monitor driver behaviour with in-cab CCTV cameras.

Multi-camera systems usually use a mobile DVR because of the higher memory requirements. Some systems can record onto an SD card if higher memory is not needed.

24-hour vehicle cameras to capture vandalism while parked

Can a dash cam record when the engine is off? Well, no. Usually dash cams are powered from your car’s cigarette lighter port so they turn off when the engine is off. But there are professional dash cams that support 24-hour video recording.

Vandals, vehicle thieves and cargo thieves are a real problem. Vehicle cameras are a great solution to nip all three in the bud. These cameras record even while your vehicle is parked so you have eyes where you always need them most.

Vehicle Camera Technology

External vehicle camera systems to capture 24- hour footage

External vehicle camera systems in parking mode can capture footage when the engine is turned off. They can be set to run for about 10 minutes after a driver has left the vehicle.

External cameras are intended to provide an “eyewitness” to protect delivery vans or other multi-stop vehicles which may have to park in awkward places. They can capture number plates and other information if the driver returns to find the vehicle is damaged.

Internal cameras for 12- hour footage

An alternative set-up can be placed inside a vehicle and run for up to 12 hours. This records how the vehicle’s goods have been loaded or unloaded, and can protect the vehicle from cargo theft at unauthorised stops. They can verify remotely that a delivery has been made and provide evidence if problems occurred.

These can be a good alternative for sole traders and small businesses who just want to record overnight. If you have expensive cargo or vehicles, however, a 24- hour system may be more beneficial.

Benefits of commercial vehicle camera systems

Camera systems can help drivers capture vandalism, make insurance claims easier, monitor performance, and much more.

Overall, commercial camera systems tend to have more in-depth features, making them more suitable for businesses and sole traders. Here’s why more businesses are getting cameras installed.

Capture vandalism on camera while parked

Drivers benefit greatly from 24- hour vehicle cameras to capture vandalism while parked. Cameras can help you capture the vandal red handed, especially when you get HD video footage.

Check your camera footage to see the culprit. Then, hand over the information to the police. You can use the video footage as evidence in court when you make your claim too.

Plus, dash cameras can act as a deterrent to criminals, so your vehicle might avoid damage in the first place.

Driver monitoring for better safety

Camera systems can be installed as CCTV inside the vehicle as well as around the vehicle. These can monitor drivers and are useful for making sure drivers are not distracted, using mobile phones, smoking, distracted in other ways or driving when fatigued. This makes them an essential part of fleet management.

These cameras can use audio options if required, provided members of the public are not being carried as passengers.

Vehicle Camera System Screen

Vehicle camera solutions give you insurance claim evidence

Clear photographic evidence of collisions and incidents from cameras can reduce your number of fault claims. Over three to five years, this can reduce the risk profile of your fleet and achieve drastic reductions in your fleet insurance renewal premiums.

An important part of insurance claims is first notification of loss (FNOL). This is the time you make your initial notification to your insurer or broker of a claim.

The sooner you can let them know the better their chances of taking control of all the associated costs. These costs could include hiring vehicles for other parties involved, vehicle repair arrangements and possible medical costs.

  • Get a camera system with remote-download footage. This way, you can send the video evidence right away from your smartphone right after the incident.
  • Don’t wait for third parties to be brought in. Tell your insurance company and send in the evidence from your camera.
  • Notifying the provider quickly and giving evidence can help ensure that the ultimate total cost of the claim is lower. This ultimate cost feeds into the algorithm to price your fleet insurance premium at renewal.
  • Some providers may even give a quote discount for when you use recognised systems, including insurance-approved vehicle trackers and cameras.

Vehicle tracking can give you a bird’s eye view of your fleet at all times, making it quick and easy to manage all your drivers. You can deal with breakdowns or accidents immediately and even check the driver dashcam footage or speeding incidents from your mobile phone.

As a free comparison site, iCompario can help you find the right system for the right price.

What vehicle camera system features to get

So, you’ve decided to buy a camera system. Great. But what kind of solution should you be looking for? Some of the best features to get are:

  • Health check function
  • 24-hour recording loop
  • Parking mode
  • Remote access video footage
  • Audio recording
  • Wi-fi enabled
  • HD video quality

Health Check Function

This functionality means you can monitor the health of your vehicle camera system remotely to make sure all systems are operational, so you can respond to any issues.

You do not have to reformat the SD card every 6 weeks or so, to clear the memory for new recordings. It can be auto-formatted remotely.

24-hour recording loop

For HGV camera systems, look for 24-hour recording loop features. This means you can access and view footage from the vehicle dash-cam and other cameras around the vehicle at any time, whether the engine is on or off.

This is a popular and useful option for HGV haulage fleets because you might want to check where the vehicle is even during the night while the driver is on a break or stop-over. If your HGV is carrying a valuable load, being able to record anyone attempting to enter the vehicle or tamper with it in any way may be extremely important.

HGV camera systems of this kind can be installed and coupled with vehicle trackers that trigger real-time alerts to the fleet manager if a vehicle door is opened. These advanced systems are very popular with overseas hauliers who need to make sure they can avoid theft and stowaways.

Parking mode

Parking mode keeps the system recording for a period of time after the ignition is turned off. This can be adjusted depending on your needs.

iCompario tip:

Vehicle camera systems with parking mode are probably less relevant for haulage vehicles, for example, which are more likely to be stopped when they are off the road and securely parked. A 24-hour recording loop will be more useful in this case.

Remote access cloud-based systems

Vehicle cameras can connect to telematics systems and transmit footage to a cloud server. This means the footage is backed up.

They use a machine-to-machine roaming SIM card that uses various mobile phone networks. It pulls whichever is the strongest network available in the vehicle location to guarantee the most reliable signal at all times. So basically, the vehicle camera is like a collection of mobile phones subscribed to every mobile network provider.

When choosing a cloud-based vehicle camera solution, the service you get will depend on your telematics or vehicle tracking system as well as the camera itself. The camera can send footage, but the telematics software decides how much of it to store, what to store, and for how long. Telematics systems also decide whether to alert you when there’s a sudden braking event which might mean there’s been a collision or other accident.

iCompario tip:

Before committing to a system, think and plan how long you need to footage stored for by your telematics provider, and whether you need all footage stored or only clips relating to incident and collisions. Paying for more than you need can waste a lot of money. Check how much you will be paying for cloud storage, how much the multi-SIM monthly subscription costs and which mobile networks it uses. 

Audio recording vehicle camera solutions

Audio recording as an option can add information to recorded video in case of incidents.

This audio evidence could include audible warnings made by the driver such as sounding the horn or reversing sensors beeping.

Some types of fleet camera systems can record the interior of the driver’s cab, revealing if he is using a phone while driving and also recording what he is saying. Some drivers are unaware that their in-vehicle camera is recording them, and we did hear of a driver who was sacked after being recorded criticising his boss. There are legal restrictions on using recordings that you make of people when they are not aware you are recording them. If you think you may need to use recording for legal evidence in any situation, it is vital that you tell your drivers you are recording audio.

Wi-fi enabled vehicle camera solutions

A camera that can transmit via wi-fi is useful when you are in wi-fi range. They also save footage while vehicles are out of range and then download video as a backup when the vehicle comes back into range.

As far as remote access vehicle cameras are concerned, this isn’t useful for most companies. This technology has been superseded by transmission via a mobile network to a telematics system that stores video footage in the cloud. This means you can access footage and notifications when our vehicles are out on the road.

iCompario tip:

For any vehicles which will leave your depot or site area, cloud- based cameras are the only option if you need to see footage remotely.

Front View Vehicle Camera

HD Video quality and frames per second

The quality of the video recording that a vehicle camera system offers may be HD, Full HD, or Quad HD. Sellers offering very high resolution 4G HD, for example, are over-selling and blinding customers with sales jargon.

Being able to configure the camera’s image resolution to match your computer’s maximum setting, and frames-per-second to suit your business needs, is the real benefit you should look for. Anything over and above this is wasted money.

Bear in mind your film quality is also going to be affected by the weather and lighting. A good low-light image sensor is also important.

iCompario tip:

Choose a good HD camera standard but don’t make this your number one concern when choosing a vehicle camera solution. See our guide to dash cams to find out more.

DVR Camera

Should I get commercial vehicle camera systems?

Consumer cameras can be useful. They help drivers gather video evidence for claims and can help lower insurance costs depending on the provider. But that’s where it ends.

Businesses need their systems to do more than that. Commercial systems are uniquely designed for business use. These are the top four reasons to choose a commercial system instead of a consumer one.

  1. Fleet camera systems are used to track driver behaviour so managers can improve overall performance and reduce costs.
  2. Multi-camera systems with internal and external video capture are essential for HGVs and other cargo businesses.
  3. Use a camera system alongside your vehicle tracker. Commercial systems can be compatible with your trackers, so you can get video footage and tracking data in one easy to manage platform.
  4. Value for money. Access systems with all these business level features at a good price. Even the best consumer type cameras struggle to meet business needs at the same price point.

How to get vehicle camera systems

The first step is finding what solution best fit your business type. Small businesses won’t need the same things as a fleet! But how do you filter out the cameras that don’t suit you?

Let us know what kind of business you are and how many cameras you need. We’ll filter through the market and find what cameras you should get.

Read more about dash cams on iCompario

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