A haulage company has reduced its annual insurance bill by more than £25,900 since installing their fleet with Smart Witness incident cameras.
HGVIreland.com reports that Brian Yeardley Continental, based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, owns 43 lorries and eight company cars which all now carry the recording device.
Managing director Kevin Hopper decided to install the cameras after becoming increasingly concerned about ‘cash for crash’ scams in which fraudsters deliberately cause accidents to submit damage and bogus injury clams. He was also concerned about conflicting accident reports.
And since spending just £7,000 on the cameras in May, his insurance bill has reduced from £135,000 to around £110,000.
He said: “I wish I could have installed Smart Witness 20 years ago. Year on year our insurance bill has gone up and up but now it has finally gone down.
“I would have been happy if the bill had gone down by £5,000 but I never expected it would reduce by £25,900. I believe a significant amount of this reduction is down to the Smart Witness cameras we have installed in all of our company vehicles.
“Our vehicles are used to transport hazardous chemicals all over Europe and our insurers said that installing Smart Witness had made them feel more comfortable.
“Our accident rate has gone down by about 50 per cent from 15 incidents last year to seven so far this year.
“Each accident cost us at least £1300 in excess, so the cameras have saved us a lot of money.”
He added that the equipment has also deterred immigrants from targeting his fleet to travel illegally into the UK from Europe.
“Last year we did over 5,000 crossing both ways across the English Channel and in 2012 we had a total of five immigrants found in our trailers which is not a lot but we do take serious measures to ensure our vehicles are protected and sealed and our drivers are fully trained and aware of the immigrant problems in Calais.
“Since fitting Smart Witness and fitting the stickers to the trucks and on the rear doors of our trailers where the immigrants normally make entry we have not had any incidents or theft and I do apportion a lot of this down to Smart Witness.
“Our trucks spend 90% of their lives working in Europe – mainly Spain, Portugal France and Italy. We are constantly trying to ensure our drivers’ safety and welfare is protected.”
Under rules introduced in 2001, the Home Office can impose a fine upon drivers of up to £2,000 for each person found travelling illegally to the UK inside their vehicles.
A 2009 Border Agency report said thousands of illegal immigrants were discovered in searches in Calais. A total of 4,241 stowaways were found in 2006/07 and 8,058 in 2008/09.
Mr Hopper said he believed the system also helped guard against thieves targeting his vehicles – a common problem for drivers in Europe which the Home Office says costs the UK economy up to £250 million each year.
He said: “We have stickers on our fleet warning road users that we have Smart Witness cameras and I think it also deters thieves from breaking in.”
Having researched which cameras to buy, Mr Hopper said he has been delighted with Smart Witness.
“We’ve had no issue with any of the equipment at all since we installed it,” he explained.
“Our drivers are often away for up to eight weeks at a time and it gives me a peace of mind knowing that when they are parked up, the cameras are there to help protect them.”
Smart Witness managing director Simon Marsh said: “Our cameras are there to help drivers and their employers in many ways.
“They not only provide the truth in black and white after a crash but they have helped significantly reduce hefty insurance bills.
“In this case, it appears they have deterred thieves and have prevented stowaways from trying their luck.
“We know having our cameras and the accompanying stickers are a powerful visual deterrent to thieves and stowaways.”
“We have seen a 40 per cent rise in sales over the last year and expect to see further increases as drivers strive to minimise the risks they face on the roads.”
The cameras, a bit like a black box journey recorder, fit onto the windscreen, are powered through the car’s cigarette lighter or can be directly wired in.
They record the driver’s view of the road ahead and also monitor the car’s location, speed, breaking and impact G-forces.
Smart Witness prices start at £149 for the standard edition going up to £239 for the professional edition used by the lorry driver in this incident.
The system is recommended by major insurers for hauliers, fleet managers and private motorists. It is officially approved by Transport for London.