CRH Transport Telematics

CRH Transport boss Chris Hetherington revealed truck drivers were wrongly blamed in up to 80% of road incident disputes

We saved around £1,600 a week in bogus cash for crash claims after installing vehicle incident cameras.

CRH Transport, which operates its 40-strong mixed fleet from several depots in and around Birmingham, was getting as many as four bogus insurance claims a week before they installed SmartWitness in-vehicle CCTV cameras.

Managing director Chris Hetherington said: “We were experiencing three to four cash for crash incidents a week at one point and to defend ourselves we had to provide evidence. Our vehicle livery clearly states that we are a HGV driver training school and so clearly our less experienced drivers we were being targeted by unscrupulous motorists looking for a pay-day.

“In many cases it would be small claims against us – mainly broken wing mirrors – but on modern cars that would be £300-£400 each time and we had no defence against them. It was cheaper to pay out these claims ourselves rather than go through our insurance company, but now when we mention we have video evidence it’s amazing how these allegations disappear.”

Chris added: “We have saved the cost of the SmartWitness systems within six months, and now there’s no way I would consider sending out any of our vehicles without a SmartWitness camera installed.”

Chris stated it was essential to give more technological support for new and trainee drivers so that they have got some back-up in the case of stage-managed accidents.

He said: “There is a chronic shortage of new drivers in the haulage industry and it’s not difficult to see why when a whole criminal industry has built up over the past few years of people deliberately crashing into HGVs in order to get an insurance payout.

“We must support new drivers with in-vehicle CCTV cameras so that they know they their fleet manager has got their back.”

The Road Haulage Association says the industry is short of 60,000 drivers, with an ageing workforce shedding another 40,000 by next year.

Mr Hetherington said to encourage new drivers all UK haulage firms should look to install similar systems to SmartWitness.

He said: “New drivers need support and back-up from their fleet managers and these systems give inexperienced drivers a confidence boost and also will make insurers more inclined to reduce premiums on recently qualified drivers. We’ve seen that in over 80% of all road disputes involving HGVs it’s the truck driver that’s blamed for the incident, and in most cases completely without justification, and now we have evidence to prove that.”

“Also the SmartWitness in-cab monitors, proximity sensors, near-side and 360 cameras systems for vans and HGV really help with preventing incidents and give greater driver confidence on city streets.”

CRH Transport now have SmartWitness KP1 forward facing camera in its entire fleet, which includes rigid and articulated lorries, short and long wheel base vans, and cars. The camera has high definition video footage with a 170-degree lens which gives complete pillar-to-pillar coverage, as well as G shock sensors which are alerted to any incident. The system sends video footage plus detailed incident data – speed and force of impact, location, date and time – to the insurer via the 3G/4G dongle immediately after a collision. It means claims can be settled far more cheaply whoever is to blame.

In 98% of incidents captured on a SmartWitness camera, there is no disputed insurance claim – whereas 40% of all insurance claims not involving a camera are disputed, adding to costs for the insurer and meaning high premiums for the claimants.

Chris Hetherington said: “The cameras are compatible with all telematics systems and so they integrated seamlessly with our current set-up, but their tracking capability has also helped to increase productivity and improve fuel efficiency, so it’s really been a win-win scenario.”