When Fleet Maintenance Manager Bruce Moffat approached Vision Techniques with their accident reduction scheme, it gave us an opportunity to demonstrate the abilities of our latest mobile DVR recording system - VT Record.
Bruce had spent the past five years implementing an ‘accident reduction’ scheme, where the council would investigate any incident independently with a review process that would help decide if there is need for training or a change to health and safety processes.
Introducing a scheme like this requires a team effort from the whole council, but it also needs technology that can help manage and categorise any incidents involving his vehicles taking place across his entire fleet over the course of many days, weeks or even months.
“The aim is to reduce our yearly accident count across many recorded incidents. The scheme has proven successful in other councils across the country so we were keen to implement it.” explained Bruce.
The Scottish borders council cover a huge part of the countryside – hundreds of miles in fact, stretching from the coast of Dumfries down to the North West of England and is mostly rural. Reviewing municipal vehicles across this vast area needed a tailored solution.
Scottish Borders council began running free trials of several versions of the Vehicle Techniques range of DVR recording systems, but felt the VT Record Three system most suited their needs.
This DVR features integrated wireless video streaming, meaning Bruce can watch his fleet live using our customised software, with each vehicle having 4 camera feeds that allow for a 360° view around the vehicle. “Using VT Record we have managed to identify several occasions where our vehicle was not involved in a reported incident or the damage was there beforehand” Bruce added.
With VT Record installed on their vehicles, Bruce is able to watch his fleet live, review any old footage and categorise ‘tagged’ events to provide clear evidence covering all angles of the vehicle. Footage can be organised by date, searched for by location - which is known as ‘geotagging’ or can be tagged using trigger activations – such as the vehicle indicating or reversing. The level of control was perfect for Bruce to achieve his goals with his accident reduction scheme, providing instant evidence in the case of any incidents.
“Using VT Record we have managed to identify several occasions where our vehicle was not involved in a reported incident or the damage was there beforehand.”
One of the biggest advantages is the level of detail VT Record can offer. As well as the usual time, date and GPS stamp, Bruce can monitor vehicle speed and acceleration to provide analytical data of an event alongside the footage.
Live streaming and hard drive recording created a wave of other advantages at Scottish Borders, such as being able to monitor missed bin collections, manage and schedule route changes, communicate updates based on what road conditions are like, check on weather behavior across the borders to update his crews and use video evidence to help train his teams to work more efficiently in the future. All of this is possible without ever having to go near the DVR in the vehicle, connecting directly to the DVR using 3G or 4G streaming to the online customised VT Record software on his computer. “It’s now standard practice with our VT Record systems that data is retrieved, interrogated and passed onto the insurance company which has helped lower our premiums. We’ve also been able to reduce our fraudulent claims which is a big cost saver for us.” VT Record has been essential to Bruce’s CPC driver training and they have managed to use highlighted footage to demonstrate where to take extra caution because of dangerous conditions. The system has also become invaluable to the drivers thanks to incidents where CCTV helped prove their innocence. “It gives drivers security if there is an incident – if they are accused for something by a member of the public I can prove the events with evidence and if we’ve made a mistake we can clearly see it, but often they change their tune!”
REDUCING THE RISK
Bruce also approached VT after a health and safety incident involving a loading shovel which occurred when reversing at their recycling centre. Reversing continues to be the most dangerous manoeuvre involving municipal vehicles, with the industry having some of the highest rates of accidents involving reversing. Bruce approached Vision Techniques with awareness of the VT Banksman Auto-braking radar – the only reversing radar on the market that uses FMCW microwave signals that detect approaching objects with perfect accuracy.
VT Banksman is also the only system available that will automatically apply the brakes if a object gets too close to the vehicle when reversing – something which Bruce was quick to trial. “The guys took to it quickly, so we decided to make it a standard fit for any new vehicles to reduce the risk in reversing procedures.” Since installation across the fleet, Banksman has clearly reduced the amount of reversing incidents involving municipal vehicles across the Scottish Borders. Bruce explained that if any member of the public approaches the rear of the vehicle both he and the driver are instantly warned – thanks to the integration between Banksman and VT Record. Any object detection by Banksman is tagged with rear camera footage so Bruce has visual evidence of the event for later review. “We have had very minimal incidents in reversing which is good for us – it’s a high risk operation in the borders due to tight areas that they have to work in” Moving forward, Bruce is talking to Vision Techniques about new technology they can utilise to make rural driving even safer. “If we can install any safety systems onto our vehicles that will reduce unwanted damage or fraudulent claims – and basically make driving safer it’s got to be a benefit to any council.”
Kirk Ennis from British Gypsum has seen the issue faced by the industry when it comes to rollaways. The capabilities of BrakeSafe were recognised by British Gypsum not only in being able to prevent rollaways but also in helping them achieve their zero target.
“It is an industry wide known issue with rollaways and its been in great support with Vision Techniques developing this product and for us being able to fit it onto our fleet and approach our zero harm target. We should be rolling it across the rest of the fleet.
BrakeSafe is the new system that prevents rollaways and runaways from happening by automatically applying the brakes if the driver forgets to use the handbrake before leaving the vehicle.
The system works by using multiple sensors that have to be activated in a certain scenario for the BrakeSafe system to apply the brakes. It has been programmed to activate when needed but not to interfere with the driver if all aspects of the scenario have not been met.
“It is a product that we can’t move away from, it’s something that we need that supports our business strategy.”
The system was first launched into the road transport industry at the CV Show 2015. Vision Techniques began working with Brian Fisher and Kirk Ennis at British Gypsum as they were looking to partner with a major name within the industry from which a close relationship between the two companies was formed.
The system was first fitted to a trial vehicle to allow British Gypsum to see the potential benefits of using BrakeSafe on their fleet. It was from this that the company saw BrakeSafe’s capabilities and decided to have further talks with Vision Techniques about fitting it to more vehicles.
“It is the first time I am aware of that you can actually have a trigger that is recorded that tells you that the handbrake has not been applied and there is a potential for a rollaway.”
British Gypsum are going to be fitting this to all their vehicles at selected sites and making it a standard issue, having put an order in for the system. Currently it is being fitted to 35 vehicles with the potential of over 300 vehicles in the coming years.
Waste operations and fleet manager Chris Dunn from North East Lincolnshire council has multiple VT systems across his fleet of 35 vehicles - but can safety systems save his team time and money?
“For us it all started with a damaged manhole cover. A member of the public had fallen down the manhole and broke their leg, which we were questioned about causing. I interviewed drivers, loaders, anyone involved basically; but we didn’t have any evidence. If we’d had the VT Live system, we could have solved this problem instantly. That’s why we came to you.”
Chris’s reasons for choosing to install VT Live were purely financial - spending thousands of pounds on claims against the council could be prevented with clear evidence.
“9 out of 10 times we’re able to prove we haven’t done any damage to other vehicles which is essential with insurance providers, as well as use in court.”
Chris decided to trial VT Live in his vehicles because the downloading process on a regular DVR can be slow and time consuming.
By using the live streaming system footage can be replayed instantly thanks to its wireless interconnectivity. VT Live quickly made a difference at North East Lincs, help¬ing to reduce vehicle damage, lower insurance claims and prevent driver negligence.
For Chris the next step was reversing accidents. Too many incidents were taking place when reversing, so he decided something radical was needed.
“Since their trial, all new municipal vehicles purchased at North East Lincs include Banksman Auto-braking as standard.”
The council had attempted to prevent reverse accidents by using competitors’ radars across their fleet, however basic radar systems were still not preventing collisions.
Chris looked to VT for their Banksman Auto-Braking solution in an attempt to reduce collision damage to his vehicles and third party property.
A no obligation trial was installed and driver feedback was extremely positive.
Since their trial, all new municipal vehicles purchased at North East Lincs include Banksman Auto-Braking as standard.
“We looked into an auto-braking system because of a serious accident which happened when reversing. Since we installed it across our fleet of vehicles, we’ve not had any reversing accidents, which is fantastic.”
This also led to a saving in downtime, labour and investigation time, paying for the system and helping to reduce insurance and vehicle maintenance costs.
“We actually didn’t notice a change straight away. It was only after a few months we realised the vehicle with the Banksman Auto-Braking Radar installed, was the only one that wasn’t involved in any reversing accidents - so it sold itself really.”
Coach House Antiques are one of a few businesses to make multiple drops around London in articulated lorries. When they realised the growing issues with cyclist safety and awareness they turned to Vision Techniques.
Coach House chose to install VT TurnAlarm; the audible and visual warning alarm and VT TurnCamera; the blind spot trigger camera installed across their fleet of twenty trucks, covering fifty trailer units.
The UK’s largest independent wholesale and giftware company were very clear in what they hoped to achieve by purchasing their cyclist safety equipment - prevention against the growing dangers on cyclist heavy roads in London was key to the retailer.
“Our drivers were constantly telling us the same thing - we can’t see in our blind spots, we keep missing cyclists. We had to ask - how can we protect them whilst protecting ourselves as well?”
Coach House had purchased reversing cameras from vehicle safety provider Vision Techniques in previous years, so they turned to them for a solution. They suggested systems from their TurnSafe range, including blind spot cameras and the audible and visual alarm.
“Luckily for us the VT systems are modular meaning we could integrate extra cameras at an impressively low cost to us.”
“The cameras paid for themselves in 6 months. We’re easily saving £50,000 across the year thanks to these cameras.”
The VT42 blind spot camera was installed into the trailers’ door mount, covering the vehicle’s blind spot entirely even at a 90° position. The camera was also set only to trigger when indicating, simplifying visibility for the driver.
“You can put as many mirrors as you want on a vehicle, but this one camera eliminates the problem - there’s absolutely no blind spots on the vehicles’ left side now.”
By providing blind spot cameras with audible and visual alarms, Coach House have to date prevented any accidents involving cyclists and made maneuvering conditions much easier for the driver, especially when making a left-hand turn.
“Since we sorted side skirts and under-run bars this was the next logical step. Blind spot cameras and audible warnings make it safer for pedestrians and safer for the drivers.”
Thanks to the success of the cyclist technology, Coach House requested internal cameras that can provide evidence in any case of damaged goods or items not arriving as expected.
“The cameras paid for themselves in 6 months. We’re easily saving £50,000 across the year thanks to these cameras.”
With 450 members of staff providing waste, recycling, street cleansing and grounds maintenance services to a population of 300,000 people, East Riding of Yorkshire council Group Manager, Paul Tripp, has a wealth of responsibility.
One of his main priorities is to manage and maintain safety procedures across his fleet of 70 Refuse Collection vehicles.
Paul and the East Riding of Yorkshire Council have found that by adding recording systems to their vehicles they’ve seen a significant drop in accidents, a growth in staff confidence and increased protection against third party claims.
Operations managers in the waste management industry are aware that reversing accidents with refuse vehicles is a growing problem.
While only four percent of accidents on the road involve reversing vehicles, a massive 40 percent of accident fatalities come from these incidents.
Paul has dedicated time and money on staff training and awareness, but he’s found the enhancements made to his new vehicles have had the most positive effect, combined with his staff’s willingness to embrace new technology.
The equipment was installed by Vision Techniques, who have developed a vehicle recording system called VT Live that streams live camera footage from any location. The system is essential when providing evidence where liability can be questioned.
“This information allowed us to prove my driver wasn’t liable and no further questioning was needed; all thanks to our video evidence.”
“We recently had a serious road traffic accident in Bridlington where an individual was involved in a collision with a refuse vehicle. The incident took place at seven in the morning, three hours later a police officer was able to watch the accident again in my office using the VT Live system.
This information allowed the police to deal with the incident instantly, prove my driver wasn’t liable and no further questioning was needed; all thanks to our video evidence.”
The system provides an effective defense mechanism against fraudulent claims for his team at East Riding.
New Forest Council have installed Banksman reversing radars across their entire fleet of vehicles and now fit the Vision Techniques ‘Auto-Braking’ system as standard, so we met with John Steed to find out why.
As one of our flagship councils with ‘Auto-Braking’ reversing radars we were eager to speak to John from New Forest council to find out more about his experiences with this modern safety technology - and how the system has affected the management of his team.
John decided to upgrade his waste vehicles to auto-braking due to the success of the basic Banksman radar - detecting any hazards when the vehicle is reversing. The newer Auto-Braking systems will stop the vehicle if any hazard enters its ‘danger zone’.
“Refuse vehicles spend 50% of their time going backwards, and the majority of our insurance claims were issues due to reverse collisions. We wanted to prevent this from happening and find a way to reduce this high incident rate.”
John runs a fleet of 195 vehicles in New Forest council, which includes 30 waste vehicles that operate five days a week. John trialed the radar system to prevent drivers from colliding with objects when reversing.
“We hear from other councils about accidents involving vehicles’ reversing - even with other suppliers’ radars installed - and we’re proud to say we don’t have any stories like that – it just doesn’t happen.”
The beauty of the automatic braking radar system is that the system will prevent any collision with another vehicle, wall or even pedestrian, completely reducing the risk when maneuvering vehicles with low visibility.
“Since installing the auto braking system on our vehicles, we haven’t had a single reversing accident with our trucks, which is absolutely fantastic.”
The Banksman system is unique in the industry to use FMCW radar and full Can Bus interface, which can automatically programme detection zones. This provides unrivalled levels of hazard detection, preventing accidents at the council.
“We hear from surrounding councils about unfortunate accidents involving their vehicles’ reversing - even with other suppliers’ radars installed - and we’re proud to say we don’t have any stories like that – it just doesn’t happen.”