Telematics guides | A Guide To Vehicle Camera Systems

A Guide To Vehicle Camera Systems

Hardwired Vehicle Camera

This guide explains the types of professional vehicle cameras for fleets and mobile plant machinery, and the uses and benefits of using a multi-channel camera system.

In this guide:

  • We explain the uses and benefits of multi-camera systems in different types of vehicles
  • The key features to evaluate when choosing a system
  • everything you need to know before buying a multi-channel vehicle camera system and give our tips to help you choose.

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.

Vehicle Camera Technology

Vehicle camera systems for improved safety and easier insurance claims

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.

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

Insurance claim evidence

Clear photographic evidence of collisions and incidents from vehicle camera systems 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 factor in the ultimate cost of an insurance claim 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 notify them, and the more detailed information you give them – particularly clarifying which party is at fault, the better their chances of taking control of all the associated costs. These costs could include hire vehicles for other parties involved, vehicle repair arrangements and possibly medical costs.

By taking the lead, rather than delaying until third parties are brought in, you 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.

Remote-download vehicle camera systems mean you can take immediate control of any incident, handling the FNOL in the most timely manner possible and making sure to gather all the required information without delay.

With this information you can also proactively monitor driver behaviour and use the information to improve driving standards when debriefing drivers. Some insurance companies may even give a discount for recognised systems and adopting procedures using this technology.

We can help you find insurers which offer this recognition.

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.

Vehicle Camera System Screen

Liability in workplace accidents

Vehicle camera systems can also establish liability and the details of each incident if you manage a building site or other busy depot where there is a risk of drivers injuring colleagues as they go about their work.

The question you must ask is if your business wants to take any risks when it comes to the legal responsibility of any accidents your plant vehicles and mobile assets are involved in. Vehicle cameras can help you from a duty of care point of view, and helps put procedures in place to cover your potential liabilities in workplace injuries or corporate manslaughter cases.

Need help with company insurance? Visit our business insurance page.

Vehicle camera systems to protect against cargo theft and vandalism

Load delivery and protection

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.

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.

Vehicle camera systems for legal compliance and safety standards

Industry regulations and safety standards include:

  1. Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS)
  2. Construction Logistics and Community Safety Standard (CLOCS)
  3. Work Related Road Risk (WRRR)
  4. London’s Direct Vision Standard (DVS)

Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS)

FORS is a voluntary accreditation scheme for fleet operators. Its aim is to raise the level of quality within fleet operations, by recognising efficient and safe vehicle operators. You can choose to achieve FORS accreditation at either Bronze, Silver or Gold compliance levels.

  • Many companies (particularly in the transportation sector) now insist that fleet operators have FORS accreditation to carry out work for them in commercial vehicles.
  • FORS accreditation will make sure you to not risk losing business because you are unable to offer deliveries by FORS-accredited vehicles.
  • You may also want to improve your fleet management, enhance fuel efficiency, or differentiate your company from competitors.

To obtain FORS silver accreditation for vehicles weighing 7.5 tonnes and over, you need to install vehicle camera systems to achieve 360 degree visibility for the driver for rigid vehicles. For articulated vehicles, cameras are required on the cab but not the trailer.

You also need a left hand audible alert and proximity sensors for the near side of the vehicle regardless of the vehicle type. The distance travelled, NOx and CO2 emission reports are also mandatory for FORS accreditation.

iCompario view

Look out for FORS-associate telematics providers who can offer a total solution.

Construction Logistics and Community Safety Standard (CLOCS)

CLOCS is a national construction industry standard that promotes good practice beyond basic legal compliance. It places responsibilities and duties on the regulator, the client, the principal contractor controlling the construction site and the supply chain including the operator of any road-going vehicles servicing that project.

The CLOCS Standard calls for the construction industry to recognise its responsibilities for vehicles and drivers delivering to, and collecting from, construction sites.

FORS and CLOCS work together, to keep compliance simple. If you work in the construction industry and operate vehicles, FORS Silver accreditation will ensure you are CLOCS compliant.

Multi-channel vehicle camera systems can bring your vehicles or plant in line with this standard.

  • A wide range of principal construction contractors and fleet operators have committed to the CLOCS Standard. They require CLOCS accreditation for all applicable vehicles permitted on site.
  • Transport for London (TfL) has worked with the construction industry to embed the CLOCS Standard across the UK to improve vehicles safety in quarries, large construction sites and highways agencies.
Construction Site

Work Related Road Risk (WRRR)

WRRR is a freight safety initiative aligned with the Mayor of London’s ‘Vision Zero’ approach to road danger reduction.

  • If you operate trucks or vans in the government’s supply chain in London, you will need vehicle camera systems to meet high WRRR road safety standards for your plant or vehicles. London turns away vehicles from construction sites if they do not meet these standards.

London’s Direct Vision Standard (DVS)

The Direct Vision Standard (DVS) is a new law, designed to cut road injuries in London resulting from HGVs with driver blind-spots. Owners of all NS category HGVs (over 12 tonnes) which operate in Greater London must eliminate all blind spots, by adding camera equipment and other enhancements to driver vision, and then obtain a permit.

External vehicle camera systems and in-cab monitors will make sure your vehicles are not only DVS compliant but less likely to be involved in accidents.

These ‘Safe System’ upgrades will become even more demanding in 2024. If you plan ahead and make the full upgrade in one go, you are likely to save money in the long run.

What to look for in a vehicle camera system for plant and HGVs

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 recording. It can be auto-formatted remotely.

24-hour recording loop

For HGVs, look out for vehicle camera systems that offer a 24-hour recording loop. 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.

Camera systems of this kind can be installed and coupled with telematics devices 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.

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.

Front View Vehicle Camera

Parking mode

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

iCompario view

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 vehicle camera 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 the 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 cloud-based vehicle camera system, 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 view

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.

DVR Camera

Audio recording vehicle cameras

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 camera 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 systems

A vehicle 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 is not 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 view

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.

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 view

Choose a good HD camera standard but don’t make this your number one concern when choosing a vehicle camera system.

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.

Read more about dash cams on iCompario