Privacy a top concern for truckers' dislike of driver-facing cameras

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Updated Apr 21, 2023
Cover of ATRI report on driver-facing cameras

When it comes to cameras, a new study finds drivers like ones that only face the road, but disapprove heartily of those that face them.

That's one of the primary findings of Issues and Opportunities With Driver-Facing Cameras, the report released Wednesday, April 12, by the American Transportation Research Institute.

“Driver-facing cameras are an important safety tool for carriers, but they must be managed carefully in order to leverage benefits with drivers, insurers, and attorneys,” said Jerry Sigmon Jr., chief operating officer for Cargo Transporters Inc. “ATRI’s research on in-cab cameras provides an important blueprint for both carriers using these technologies as well as carriers still contemplating the investment.”

When asked to rate their approval of in-cab cameras facing them on a 0-to-10 scale, drivers gave them a modest 2.24. Women drivers responding to the survey rated driver-facing cameras lower than their male counterparts, giving them an average approval rating of just 1.98 on the 0-to-10 compared to males' 2.27 rating. 

ATRI said low scores are driven in part by limited experience, confusion over the variety of camera systems, unclear carrier policies, and strong concerns about privacy.  

Conversely, drivers using road-facing cameras gave them a much higher approval rating:  8.19 on the 0-to-10 scale.

The study also asked drivers what they thought would approve the acceptance of driver-facing cameras. The findings of those who responded included:

  • 18.8% view only after crash
  • 16.7% off when not moving
  • 13.7% full driver control
  • 11.6 less fault finding
  • 9.1% less sensitive triggers
  • 7.3% commensurate pay increase
  • 7% full driver access
  • 6.7% end punitive use
  • 5.8% probation drivers only
  • 3.3% better communication

The study also included some comments by drivers. Among them:

  • “With a driver-facing camera, you get the feeling that you are being watched 100 percent of the time. I know that is not the case, but it’s the perception. The company has to find a way to assure the driver that they are not looking to punish the driver for every little thing that they may do wrong.” – LTL Driver
  •  “[DFCs] actually endanger my safety and those around me, because I feel stressed and nervous about being watched, even though I’m doing nothing wrong.” – LTL Driver
  • “When I was a company driver my company installed driver-facing cameras. That put my stress level through the roof and made me the least safe driver I have ever been. It is also what drove me to purchase my own truck.” – Specialized Driver
  • “Female drivers were sexually harassed by staff members with access to the driver-facing cameras. For an OTR driver, it’s no different than if your employer had a camera facing you in your personal car, your working space, in your living room, your bedroom, your kitchen, and even your bathroom on occasion.” – Truckload Driver
  • “It’s hard to accept a camera pointed at you in your work/living space. This isn’t like an office job where cameras may be all over a building. The truck is our workspace but also our personal space just like a home. A company may own the truck, but it doesn’t give them the right to have a camera looking at me. Landlords can’t install cameras in their homes to make sure tenants are following rules.” – Intermodal Driver 

ATRI said about 2,100 drivers responded to the survey. 

You can request to download a PDF of the entire report here.