Earlier this year Amazon installed AI-powered cameras in over half of its fleet to keep its drivers safe. It’s not going so well.

According to Vice, the AI-cameras are frequently mistaking events outside of drivers’ control for driver errors. “Every time I need to make a right hand turn, it inevitably happens. A car cuts me off to move into my lane, and the camera, in this really dystopian dark, robotic voice, shouts at me," according to one of the Amazon drivers. "It's so disconcerting. It’s upsetting when I didn't do anything.” The owner of an Amazon delivery company said that rather than encourage safe driving, the cameras punish drivers for acceptable driving actions or events that are outside of their control. Actions such as checking side mirrors, turning down the radio, or stopping ahead of a stop sign are interpreted as reckless.

Even worse, the incorrect data is automatically uploaded to a scoring system for drivers that determines bonuses, prizes, and extra pay.

Don't be Amazon

Internet of Things (IoT) technology can be a dynamically useful tool for your business, but applied incorrectly can cause more harm than good. Aside from a nationwide driver shortage, the annual turnover rate for drivers is a shocking 90% according to the American Trucking Association. Constantly replacing drivers is costly in a variety of ways:

  • Lost business
    You can serve fewer customers, make fewer deliveries, and take on fewer jobs per day when you are short on drivers.
  • Increased safety issues
    Experienced drivers are safer drivers. Inexperienced drivers increase your risk of accidents and liabilities.

This video is a great example of the need to have a hands-on approach to dash cams. An AI-generated alert might register this as lane drifting. Watch what was really happening.

Do use technology proactively

The key mistake Amazon is making is their hands-off and punitive approach to AI and dash cam technology.  Here are key tips to making this technology work in your favor and win over your drivers.

1. Remember AI is artificial. And not always intelligent.

It’s important to remember that AI technology requires human input and will rarely account for all possible behaviors. For example, in 2018 a self-driving Uber SUV struck and killed a pedestrian. Authorities determined that the woman was jaywalking—a pedestrian behavior that was not programmed into the vehicle’s AI protocols.

Whether or not your dash cameras as using AI protocols, don’t set them and forget them. Video footage should be reviewed by managers and with employees, and used as coaching opportunities to point out unsafe driving behaviors or praise excellent responses.

Linxup dash cam footage has the added advantage of pairing with GPS alerts for speeding, harsh braking, etc. Combining GPS data ensures that managers have a complete picture of driving behavior and can respond appropriately and fairly.

2. Use positive reinforcement rather than punitive action.

It’s demoralizing for drivers to know that each mistake might result in lost bonuses or overtime. In fact, the Amazon drivers who spoke to Vice theorized that the real reason for the cameras was to save the company money in extra pay and prizes. Remember the cost of replacing employees. Don’t put a system in place that automatically dings drivers.

Instead, make reviewing mistakes a team effort. Set up regular training sessions to review common driving issues you see from multiple employees. Include videos of safe responsive driving to be encouraging. 

Linxup dash cams include a voice activated way to trigger recordings—which is also a way to engage your drivers in their own performance. Encourage them to trigger video captures when they spot risky events or interesting sights during their day.

Coaching, not catching

The goal of dash cam and GPS technology is to help your business grow and become more productive. Approaching technology with a positive attitude will help your employees understand that you aren’t playing gotcha. Demonstrate that you sincerely want to keep them safe and improve their performance, and you’ll retain good employees.

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