Smile! You’re on Candid Camera

Candid camera

Image from Google Maps

Last week’s Snake on the Glass got lots of you talking. Did the truck driver who filmed a snake on his windshield deserve to be fired? It was a 50/50 split. Roughly half of you agreed with me that the driver deserved to be terminated for filming while operating a commercial vehicle. The other half of you felt firing was too severe a punishment – in fact, one of you even accused me of becoming a “mean old man” as I age, which made me LOL (further proof that I just may be an old-timer!).

A few of you, who suffer from ophiophobia, were less concerned about the driver and more concerned about the fact that I wrote a post featuring snakes. What’s most interesting, though, is that the filming of that crazy snake opened a discussion about a hot topic in our industry these days – driver surveillance.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration worked with the White House to mandate that all trucks use ELD’s (Electronic Logging Devices) or EOBR’s (Electronic On-Board Recorders). These devices record the amount of time a vehicle is being driven.

candid camera

Doing the Brazilian Boogie

Forward-facing (aka outward-facing) cameras are also widely used in the industry. They promote accountability, lower insurance rates, and protect truck drivers in the event of an accident (when they are not at fault). They’ve also captured drivers at their heroic best.

But now, there are driver-facing (aka inward-facing) cameras too. Swift Transportation, the largest carrier in the U.S., began installing them in all its company-owned trucks last year.

How would you feel about being filmed all day while you work so that your every move could be scrutinized? Spinach in your teeth? You’re on camera! Booger in your nose? Your supervisor saw it too!

Already facing a driver shortage, I fear that our industry is further pushing away qualified candidates with so many Big Brother devices. At Matchmaker, we use an app that allows us to track the GPS coordinates of our drivers. That’s information I want to know. But, I don’t want to see that same driver smacking his gum or wiping doughnut crumbs from his beard at a stoplight.

candid camera

Posing for the Google Maps Car

Many drivers are attracted to trucking because they don’t want “a boss breathing down their necks”. But driver-facing cameras eliminate that job perk, making an already difficult job even less attractive.

That said, surveillance is an ever-increasing part of everyone’s lives from store and bank security cameras to “nanny cams” to Google Maps. Maybe we’re all going to have to live with the idea of being filmed all of the time.

What do you think? Are forward-facing cameras sufficient for assessing a driver’s abilities and highlighting areas where training is needed? Or should we use every form of driver surveillance we can get? Email me your thoughts, please. Meanwhile….

Watch your P&Q’s this weekend (’cause others might be watching too),