Coming soon to a car near you: Driver cams
November 28, 2010
In an attempt to increase driver safety, California is giving the green light to allowing video cameras to be mounted onto vehicle windshields. [Sacramento Bee]
The goal, supporters claim, is to make participants aware of bad habits by recording their behavior seconds before and after a crash or erratic driving maneuver.
The new system would not be mandatory and the primary target would be truck, bus, taxi, or other commercial vehicles with large fleets.
California’s new recording law, Assembly Bill 1942, will allow cameras to be mounted on windshields beginning Jan. 1, much as electronic GPS mapping and toll-paying devices are permitted now.
The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego) whose district includes DriveCam, a major manufacturer of car video devices.
DriveCam points to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that found cameras reduced the number of collisions or risky maneuvers per miles driven by 37 percent and 52 percent, respectively, in two groups of truck drivers tested.
Families can buy a windshield camera from DriveCam for about $900, including one year of monitoring during which the firm collects all recordings and provides an analysis to clients for coaching purposes.
Critics are already questioning whether expanding workplace recording intrudes upon privacy in a society where cameras already are used for purposes ranging from monitoring department store aisles to detecting red-light violations.
“We have this fundamental right to privacy, and I don’t think there was a case made for why we need to have continuous recording of drivers and traffic,” said Valerie Small Navarro of the American Civil Liberties Union.