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Truck drivers outraged by carrier's plans to install driver-facing cameras

Increasingly, we live in a society in which we are knowingly or unknowingly monitored. Cities throughout the U.S. are dotted with surveillance and security cameras which are often cited as helping both reduce and deter criminal activity. While U.S. citizens have been fairly complicit in allowing the video monitoring of their public activities, many fiercely protect their privacy at home and while in their motor vehicles.

Swift Transportation, a major U.S. trucking carrier, recently announced plans to install both front and driver-facing cameras in 6,000 of its commercial trucks. While the company asserts that footage from the cameras will not be streamed or monitored live, the use of driver-facing cameras has angered many Swift truck drivers who contend the cameras are a gross invasion of privacy.

While the number of truck accidents has dramatically decreased since the 1970s, an average of 4,000 people die each year in truck crashes and accidents remain a major concern and cost for trucking companies. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck companies pay out an average of roughly $195,000 to truck accident injury victims and more than $3.5 million to families impacted by fatal truck crashes.

In response to criticism from commercial truck drivers, Swift executives noted that the cameras are not intended to watch the driver but rather watch "out for the driver." However, despite such claims, many truck drivers believe the cameras "represent both excessive oversight and an invasion of privacy."

Swift Transportation owns and operates more than 18,000 trucks in the U.S. Initially the company plans to install the front and driver-facing cameras in roughly 6,000 company trucks. While the cameras live feeds won't be monitored, footage will be monitored to identify and review occurrences when a truck driver swerves, hard brakes or engages in other unusual driving maneuvers.

Source: Fortune.com, "There's pressure in the industry to monitor truck drivers—and drivers aren’t happy," David Z. Morris, May 26, 2015

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