The NPR radio show All Things Considered recently aired a story about DriveCam Video Systems, a company selling camera and sensor devices into vehicles to determine how accidents occur. While the advantage of this technology may be clearly visible in the world of commercial transportation, the NPR story focused more on teenage drivers and how parents may use this technology to gauge their children's driving habits.
With the DriveCam system installed, live video is captured from one of several cameras, most popularly a forward-facing shot (much like are installed in police cars) and also a camera facing the cabin. If the DriveCam computer system detects something anomalous, such as hard braking, fast turning or an impact registering in the optional force sensors, the video immediately preceding and following the incident are saved for review.
While it may be every parent's ultimate wish to know exactly how their children are driving absent their supervision, I doubt the installation of this technology will have the end-impact of reducing reckless and careless teen driving. Instead of teaching children the values of safe and defensive driving, the DriveCam system stands only to intimidate. Scaring children into possibly better driving practices for fear of punishment will do nothing for the longterm, while providing them with the knowledge and insight available on why they should decide to drive safely on their own will be everlasting. In the end, if a teen driver is going to drive recklessly and possibly get into an accident along the way, they will do so anyway. Just perhaps in their friend's vehicle.
As I mentioned before, there are very practical commercial uses for this technology as well. Not only can DriveCam explain why a work vehicle may return to its owner dinged or missing a mirror, but it can also help exonerate a driver of wrong-doing in the event of a mechanical malfunction.
Such cases and many more are available to watch by selecting from the following video samples provided by DriveCam on their website. Unfortunately only Microsoft Internet Explorer is supported and the installation of the DriveCam proprietary video software ActiveX control is required for viewing.
A Close Call
The driver fails to notice the red traffic signal in the upcoming intersection and is forced to take evasive action.
It is amazing this accident was not worse considering the apparent speed involved.
Asleep at the Wheel
The driver of this AAA-affiliated tow truck falls asleep at the wheel in the middle of the day, allowing his vehicle to leave the road for the sidewalk. This video is dual-camera, so be sure to click the "REAR" button and play the video again to see the alternate perspective.
What the hell do you think that was, moron? Fortunately for you, not a person on the sidewalk.
The driver fails to notice traffic slowing ahead and nearly rear-ends another vehicle.
I agree with the passenger who rightfully enquires why the driver was being so absent-minded.
Bus Steering Malfunction
In an example of how the DriveCam system can exonerate a driver of guilt, this dual-camera video shows an airport shuttle bus losing its steering system, going over a railing and into a parking lot below. Again, be sure to click "REAR" and play the video again to watch the cabin view.
How scary for both the driver and passenger, who looks like he is going to vomit. I think the driver said it right, though!
This video captures the DriveCam-equipped vehicle as the victim of a t-bone crash.
What lovely driving music.
Too bad he had to have an accident to it.
Another example of the DriveCam vehicle as victim, this time to a pick-up truck deciding to make a last minute left turn from the middle lane.
At first I thought the driver at fault was going to make a run for it!
This commercial driver clips the passenger side mirror from his shuttle bus.
...and subsequently uses many "colourful metaphors."
What Did I Hit?
A good question for this driver who backs into or over something.
The driver's utterance of "tell me about it" seems to hint at an already bad day getting worse.
This driver flies through a parking lot over a speed hump, hitting hard enough to trigger the incident saving feature of the DriveCam.
Are these people drunk? Even after plowing through the speed hump, they seem oblivious.
Photo Credit: DriveCam Video Systems
Related Article: DriveCam Redux