The taxi industry is changing rapidly. Disrupted by technology, challenged by new ridesharing businesses, and threatened by the approach of self-driving cars, taxis and private hire firms must find new ways to compete. At the same time, drivers face challenges of busier roads, passenger disputes, and even verbal and physical assault.
To meet these new challenges, taxi operators and private hire fleets need to protect their vehicles and reputations while working as efficiently as possible. That means maximising vehicle availability, optimising route planning, as well as monitoring and enforcing driver professionalism. It’s a tall order, but just as technology is creating challenges, it is also providing solutions: one of which is smarter, cloud-connected drive recorder technology.
Dash and interior cameras provide an effective deterrent against driver abuse and false claims. Additionally, they can also help taxi and private hire businesses save money and become more efficient to remain profitable in an increasingly competitive space. Where dash cams are legal, no fleet can afford to be without them. Here’s why.
In recent years there’s been a slow increase in the number of taxis fitted with drive recording technology. It’s not legal everywhere, and there’s resistance to the idea from some customers and drivers, centred around privacy. For taxi and private-hire vehicle (PHV) firms though, the latest generation of dual-camera drive recorders provide an ideal solution to many business challenges.
As the name implies, dual-camera drive recorders and dash cams monitor both the road ahead and the interior of the car. The interior footage is especially important for taxis and PHVs by providing a continuous record of how drivers and passengers behave. Interior footage can help settle disputes over payment, destinations, routes or damage, while the mere presence of a camera deters verbal and physical assaults on drivers.
Given how frequently taxis and PHVs operate at night, devices with infrared LED sensors are a must, as are ones with quality microphones to record conversations. This isn’t legal everywhere in the world, but where it is, audio recordings can provide vital evidence.
The benefits of the front camera are more obvious. In the event of an accident, a forward-facing camera can quickly establish facts, thereby preventing fraudulent insurance claims, speeding up genuine cases, and potentially exonerating a driver.
Collectively, the effect is that vehicles are less likely to get damaged and they may be repaired more quickly when they are, as claims are resolved swiftly. In reality, the advantages extend far beyond that. Camera footage can be reviewed to examine driver performance, helping the company enforce high standards and ensure compliance with the law. Drivers’ own videos can be used to support their management and development, and can help ensure training is focused and specific, maximising the return on investment.
More Connected to your Cars
But for taxi and PHV companies, new cloud-ready drive recorders and dash cams support a more proactive approach to driver and fleet management. Equipped with GPS and 4G wireless connectivity, this new generation of devices are ready to plug into cloud-based solutions that provide a more interactive and powerful link between control centres and their cars. Previously, integrating such a sophisticated system would have required a team of specialist developers. Now, with Microsoft IoT Plug and Play, this level of integration has never been simpler to implement.
For example, with a real-time link to exact vehicle locations and speed, taxi controllers can pinpoint the fleet and understand localised traffic, allowing quicker dispatching and more efficient routing. With real-time access to onboard footage, controllers can independently verify road and vehicle status. And with a better connection to their vehicles, controllers can proactively summon the proper help in a breakdown or emergency.
At the same time, when drivers know they are being monitored, roadcraft and customer service standards are less likely to slip.
Using Data to Drive Savings
Where cloud-connected dash cams support CAN bus integration, taxi and PHV companies can develop even more sophisticated ways to manage their fleet. Access to real-time engine and vehicle heath data allows fleet managers to protect their investment and ensure high availability. For example, by booking mechanical services in advance and reminding drivers about routine maintenance items such as tyre pressures, managers can maximise vehicle performance, availability and fuel economy. Alongside video, the analysis of CAN bus data can also identify issues such as overly fast or aggressive driving, again supporting appropriate training or management, while further reducing maintenance and fuel costs.
Installing a dash cam won’t solve every challenge faced by taxi and PHV firms. However, simply recording the vehicle provides a deterrent to wrongdoing by drivers or their passengers and it creates a record of everything that happens across the fleet. Public attitudes to cameras are also shifting, as customers realize the benefits outweigh any short-term loss of privacy. Vulnerable and lone travellers may even begin to request cars with internal cameras.
In an uncertain and changing business environment, the operational benefits of drive recorder technology alone justify the investment. Companies that both understand and market the positive benefits of such technology to their customers will be the achieving the largest boost to their efficiency, reputation and bottom line.
Ultimately, drive recorders are good for customers and good for business. As a taxi or PHV operator, it’s an advantage you can’t afford to be without.
VIA recently launched the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder, a full-featured, compact dual camera 1080p driver recorder that is available with custom software support and seamless cloud integration. The unobtrusive and compact design includes GPS support with live tracking using a customizable app, a 3-axis G-sensor and four infra-red LEDs that ensure a clear video stream of the vehicle’s interior at all times. In short, the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder is highly suited for deployment in taxis and private hire vehicles.
Learn more about the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder here.
You can also watch this short introductory video: