What is it?
Smart Witness is one of a growing number of dashboard cameras on the market, popular not only with fleets but increasingly with private drivers too. The device records court-admissible video footage which is being used to settle insurance disputes and curb false claims.
It’s not hard to see why they’re becoming popular – a recent study by the AA showed personal injury claims rose 60% since 2006, despite a 20% drop in accidents overall, and now account for 1,500 claims per day or 550,000 per year. An estimated 60% of all whiplash claims are also said to be dubious.
How does it work?
Contained within a tamper-proof box, the device features a 170-degree wide angle lens, GPS sensor and accelerometer, all of which record data about the journey which is stored on an SD card. This can either be hard-wired into the vehicle or plugged into its cigarette lighter, and attaches to the windscreen.
This allows it to record most of the forward view but also include location, speed, braking and impact G-forces after an accident, plotted on Google Maps. It can grade driver behaviour and Smart Witness claims a 0.002% failure rate for the device.
Dashboard cameras are a growing market. SmartWitness is claiming a 40% rise in sales year on year, with £20m combined insurance premium reductions for its customers, regardless of their fleet size and type.
Tristar, a chauffeur company based in Middlesex, has the cameras on its 460 cars, and says they will save £60,000 in running costs per year through reduced insurance premiums and an increase in sales, as customers like the reassurance. SmartWitness cameras have already been used to settle a £4,000 insurance claim, capturing the third party damaging a TriStar vehicle on the motorway and driving away.
Brian Yeardley Continental, a pan-European freight company based in Wakefield, also has SmartWitness cameras on its 43 lorries and eight company cars. These are said to have reduced the company’s insurance bill from £135,000 to £110,000, while cutting accident rates in half and deterring thieves and stowaways.
SmartWitness costs £149 for the standard version or £239 for the professional edition, the latter of which is a modular system which can be connected to telematics units.