Omnitracs' Road Ahead blog

The Importance of Video in FMCSA’s Crash Preventability Determination Program

Now that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced that the agency’s Crash Preventability Determination Program has been made permanent, it’s more important than ever that fleets have a video safety program to prove that their driver was not at fault when involved in a crash.

Emphasizing this point is the fact that, after the FMCSA reviewed more than 5,600 crashes during its pilot program, 94% were found to have been not preventable by the driver or carrier. As a result, crashes found to be not preventable will not be included in a carrier’s CSA Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) score.



Video is one type of supporting documentation that can be provided to the FMCSA for data review. It’s the only documentation that shows what actually happened before, during and after the crash. Both drivers and fleet personnel appreciate the power of video to help exonerate a driver when they’re not at fault. SmartDrive delivers event video within minutes of an incident occurring which is extremely valuable at the scene for the driver, but also for the manager who needs to ensure the proper next steps occur to protect that driver and the fleet.

Drivers particularly appreciate the clarity and expediency of video since 80% of accidents are caused by other drivers, yet they still get blamed:

“The video exonerated me – saving my CDL – allowing me to keep my job and immediately getting me back on the road. No questions asked.”

 “Should an incident occur and it’s not my fault, I have the proof I need to be exonerated. That’s peace of mind.”

Video can also impact a fleet’s CSA Unsafe Driving BASIC, which reports on repeated unsafe behaviors, including texting, speeding, using a hand-held cell phone, reckless driving, improper lane changes and inattention. Fleets appreciate that video helps improve driver behavior, reduces collisions and claims, and keeps vehicles on the road. For instance, Titan Transfer, a full-service truckload company saw improved driving across its fleet; in the past 12 months alone, Titan Transfer achieved a 14% reduction in the CSA Unsafe Driving BASIC, a 27% reduction in the CSAS Crash Indicator BASIC and a 4% reduction in claims.

“SmartDrive has saved us millions. It’s been invaluable for basic liability determination. The number of exonerations we’ve been able to process – and lawsuits prevented – has more than paid for the system. Although we may initially get blamed for an incident, the SmartDrive program provides video evidence that proves our drivers’ innocence. Video can be the best witness.” – Angie Leathers, Litigation Manager, Averitt Express

“Another significant benefit is that when drivers are involved in an incident that’s not their fault, we’re not wasting time or money fighting claims, because we can prove exactly what happened with video. We’ve already found that these exonerations are paying for the system.” – Ken Humphries, Vice President,  Schilli Corporation

Another area that can be improved with video is a fleet’s CSA Crash Indicator BASIC. State-reported crashes from the last two years are collected in this BASIC to help identify patterns of high crash involvement and the behaviors or set of behaviors that contributed to the crash.

In addition to capturing evidence of liability when it’s not your drivers’ fault, video helps reduce the opportunity for collisions that are your drivers’ fault. By alerting managers to habits that are likely to cause collisions (distractions, speeding, following too close, etc.), a video safety program provides the tools to coach drivers with video so they see what happened, learn how to change their behavior and return to the road – safer and more aware of their driving.

Proving your driver was not at fault when involved in a crash is one more reason every fleet needs a video safety program. Saving a life is another.

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