Dashcams: Necessity Or Luxury?

Topic 17678 | Page 1

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Chelsea P.'s Comment
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I have seen how handy dashcams can be, especially when an accident happens and there's a fatality. My trainer had a Rand McNalley GPS that also had a dashcams on it. He would turn it on whenever we parked in case someone hit him or something. So, I don't need a GPS because I use the one in the truck (that way if I get lost, I can blame it on the company equipment) but I would like to get a dashcam. What kind should I get?

Also, being a company driver, is there a way to get a wifi for while I'm on the road? I don't want to have to pay for wifi at truck stops or only have it at terminals. I have Sprint for phone coverage and AT&T for internet and I'm hoping to be able to use my laptop for more than just watching DVDs on it. Ideas?

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Kurt G.'s Comment
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Re WIFI, this gets discussed periodically, so if you search for something like "data plan" you should find multiple threads on the subject. In a nutshell, you might be able to get an app that lets your phone share it's data, but even if this works it likely violates you terms of service. A few of us have hotspots which provide wifi to devices, but you have to pay per gb. I have a Straight Talk hotspot I bought from Walmart and it's like $10 per GB.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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So, I don't need a GPS because I use the one in the truck (that way if I get lost, I can blame it on the company equipment)

I'm not sure if you're serious about that or joking, but in trucking you do everything in your power to make sure nothing goes wrong in the first place. A true professional never has any intention of letting anything go wrong and they certainly don't think blaming someone else is going to make things any better. And with today's tools and technologies, getting lost is pretty much always the driver's fault. Even if someone gives you bad directions you should catch it. I can assure you that if you're late for an appointment you're getting a service failure for it. Bad directions are never an excuse.

You match the directions you get from your company with those you get when calling the customer. And I always called the customer because you never know what might be going on that isn't listed in the directions. There could be a construction detour or they might have decided to send your load down the road to a different warehouse but haven't told your company. There are a million things that could require you to use a different route or go to a different location. So always call the customer to play it safe.

Then you check both sets of directions against Google Maps or some other mapping/GPS system. Make sure it all adds up. Not only check the directions, but use Google Maps to get a satellite view of the place. You can often discover exactly where the truck entrance and the docks are. You may also see other helpful landmarks like businesses in the area you'll spot just before you get to the customer or big empty lots you might be able to use for overnight parking.

Do your homework before you get off the Interstate and head towards the customer. Be as well prepared as possible. If you make assumptions in this business it's going to bite you time and again. It's a very dynamic environment and there are way too many things that can go wrong.

I don't have a dashcam so I really can't recommend one but some of the others can share their experiences.

As far as Internet on the road, using a Verizon or AT&T phone as a mobile hotspot for your laptop is the best way to go. The other carriers are getting better coverage but I really don't know if they are viable options for cross country travel or not. If you find you're getting good coverage with your Sprint phone I would imagine it can be used as a mobile hotspot but I've never had Sprint so I can't say for sure.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Reaper's Comment
member avatar

For dash cams, i got a cheap one from bed bath and beyond for 35 after tax. It is designed to hold a 32 gig card, loops recording, has a motion sensor, night mode with infrared lights for better cam vision. It works great just make sure you charge it the full 3-5 hours before using it. I made the mistake and just started using it instantly and regret it. Oh also the suction mount kinda is screwy, the suction works but the adjustible part to turn and tilt it cany hold it in place even when fully down.

Honestly i cant complain for 35 dollara that can save me thousands in insurance fraud cases. Since the 2 weeks ive had it, the thing has saved myself from 3 accidents and saved one other driver from being at fault from an accident. (The 3 accidents didnt happen but were close calls that they said i forced them off the road into a snow bank, or they tried to say simaliar cases.)

Chelsea P.'s Comment
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Thanks for the suggestion Reaper!

Take it easy Brett. At this point, I am joking about the whole 'getting lost' thing. Here's the reason why I said it. One, I'm not what I would call a professional driver yet because I only have 3 months of experience under my belt. I went into training with Celadon and before then, I was used to using a GPS and not having it fail me when it came to directions. When I started using the one on the Qualcomm , it was a piece of crap a quarter of the time I used it. I asked many times for them to do something about it since it was their equipment but they told me I would have to call Qualcomm itself to have it fixed; even after doing that, they told me it was a software issue and the company hadn't updated it.

The GPS got me lost twice while I was using it. The first time was within a month of me solo driving and I wasn't expecting it to get me lost; like I said, I'm not accustomed to that and my trainer's never got him lost. Granted he was using a Rand McNalley but still. At any rate, I asked my DM three times for the correct address and each time I looked it up, the Qualcomm didn't know where to go and even my phone had no clue where it was. I had to ask for the number to the customer which took forever to get and wasn't the one they gave me initially. Once I made the call, I had to beg the guy that answered to stay on the line so he could direct me to where I needed to go. The second time it got me lost was in Sealy, TX. I'm not sure where in my driving this was but I'm pretty sure it was still early. I was supposed to drop an empty at a Walmart DC so I could go get my APU fixed. The dumb thing led me a mile past where I needed to be on a dark, two lane road and said the field next to me was my destination. I figured out that the bright spot waaay behind me was where I was supposed to be and did what I had to in order to get there. Because it was the company's equipment, I got them to pay for me to stay in a hotel while my truck got fixed for a week. If I had been using my own and had that happen, they would have been like, 'Well, you wouldn't have gotten lost if you had been using our equipment.' After that, I figured out how to check the location of a customer, using my phone GPS and my atlas, to make sure I didn't get lost. Now, I did get lost on the way to a truck stop but that one was an easy fix. However, my GPS continued to give me crazy directions like turn around on the highway, go back three exits then go back the way I was going. Or, my personal favorite, get off the highway then get right back on. Honestly, I hated that GPS system. And I usually couldn't call the customer because my DM either didn't give me a number or said I wasn't supposed to call them. Don't know why, it's just how they did it which irritated the heck out of me. So, that's why I said what I did. It's more of a joke now that I know what I'm supposed to do versus in the beginning when I didn't.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Reaper's Comment
member avatar

As many have said here and what im doing as well. Commercial rand mcnallys road atlas and a rand mcnally gps work great together. Ehen the gps loses signal the road atlas can pick up where it left off.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Take it easy Brett

I did take it easy. I had to say something because when you make statements like that with no indication you're joking there are going to be a lot of people who take it literally. They're going to think you're supposed to do that so that's what they're going to do when their turn comes.

Matt 's Comment
member avatar

I'm sure its been stated but the gps in the trucks according to many of the driver's I have talked to the routes are not always truck friendly

Reaper's Comment
member avatar

I'm sure its been stated but the gps in the trucks according to many of the driver's I have talked to the routes are not always truck friendly

Thats why i said rand mcnally gps. You enter your trucks height, weight, and width, and length. It makes routes tailored to that.

Farmerbob1's Comment
member avatar

I would have liked to have had a front-facing dash cam in my truck a while back when a 4-wheeler decided to play pinball off my front bumper than race off. No damage of any note to my truck other than a couple scratches and some 4-wheeler paint on the bumper, but I still would have liked to have that on camera. If nothing else, it would have been good Youtube fodder, and might have helped police find the hit-and-runner if it had gotten a clear plate number.

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