A new report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows a number of advantages to commercial vehicle onboard video systems – primarily after trouble has occurred.

These systems record video either continuously or as the result of a triggering event. The report focuses on the benefits offered by these systems for evaluation of both driver and passenger behaviors and collision analysis.

After a crash...

Many commercial vehicles, such as school buses and motorcoaches, are equipped with onboard video systems. After a crash, the NTSB uses information from onboard video systems to help determine the probable cause of the crash, to make recommendations to prevent future crashes, and to reduce loss of life and injury when crashes do happen.

In addition to reviewing past crashes of vehicles equipped with both continuous and triggered video systems, the report highlights two recent crash investigations in which continuous video systems were installed on commercial vehicles. In one, a 2012 collision involving a truck-tractor semitrailer and a school bus in Port St. Lucie, Florida, the video recording system captured precrash driver and passenger behaviors and vehicle motion; vehicle and occupant motion during the crash; and postcrash events, such as passenger evacuation, short-term injury outcomes, and emergency response.

In the other investigation, a 2011 crash involving a motorcoach and a truck-tractor semitrailer in Kearney, Nebraska, the motorcoach video recording system captured critical precrash information but had limitations that prevented the capture of useful crash and postcrash information.

Shows areas for improvement

The safety report discusses many of the advantages of onboard video systems, in addition to highlighting areas for improvement, such as the need for to be able to see the driver and each occupant seating location, the need to be able to see forward of the vehicle, optimized frame rate, and low-light recording capability. The report also addresses the importance of proper installation and maintenance of all onboard video systems. A Safety Alert emphasizing these recommendations for commercial vehicle onboard video systems and tips for improving the video system utility has also been released http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-alerts/Documents/SA_043.pdf.

The report’s recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seven transportation-related associations, and 15 manufacturers of onboard video systems, address improper camera positions, benefits of onboard video systems that capture events both inside and outside the vehicle, and facilitating research into real-world scenarios to mitigate occupant injuries.

To view the report, click on the following link: http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-studies/Documents/SR1501.pdf.