A chauffeur company is set to make savings of up to £60,000 a year after installing Smart Witness cameras to its fleet of 460 vehicles.
Tristar Worldwide, based in Middlesex, has fitted each of its vehicles with the recording device after staff became concerned about 'cash for crash' fraudsters who deliberately cause accidents to file damage and bogus injury claims.
Fleet manager Janusz Kozlowski said he had already noticed many benefits since installing the cameras in May this year.
He said: "The cameras have definitely improved the behaviour of the chauffeurs because our at fault accident rate has reduced by almost half to about four or five accidents per month compared with the same five month period last year.
"I would estimate we will save about £60,000 a year based on fewer accidents and because we will be less likely to be targeted by 'cash for crash' fraud. We also expect our insurance premiums to reduce next year."
With a reduced accident rate, Tristar’s fleet team are is also spending less time administering claims and trying to establish liability. Kozlowski added that the cameras had already quickly resolved one dispute after a Tristar vehicle was hit in a motorway collision in September.
He said: "A car collided with one of our Mercedes as it crossed lanes on the motorway causing about £4,000 worth of damage.
"The third party drove off but luckily our chauffeur took down the registration number and the driver of the vehicle was tracked down. They denied any involvement but the evidence was provided by the Smart Witness camera and it was there in full colour footage. Without the camera we would have had no chance of resolving the dispute."
But prior to installing the cameras, the firm was not so lucky.
Kozlowski said: "Following an accident, we received multiple whiplash claims but our chauffeur only remembered seeing one person in the other vehicle, however, there was no proof of this."
Around 550,000 whiplash claims a year are filed in the UK, but insurance experts have estimated that up to 60 per cent are bogus.
It makes the ‘cash for crash’ scam a £1 billion-a-year fraud. The shocking figures were given to MPs by insurers who said the UK had now become the ‘whiplash capital of the world.’ According to the AA, since 2006 there has been a 60 per cent rise in the number of personal injury claims while the number of reported accidents on UK roads has fallen by 20 per cent over the same period.
To continue reducing their accident rate, Tristar’s chauffeur training team reviews the Smart Witness footage on a monthly basis and sometimes performs spot checks.
Kozlowski said: "This helps our road safety team tailor their training to each chauffeur’s specific requirements."
The new camera installations have also made a good impression on Tristar’s customers, where they have already received some good feedback.
"Our customers are very health and safety conscious so they see the benefits of Smart Witness too," he added.
Smart Witness managing director Simon Marsh said: “Our cameras have demonstrated time and time again that the evidence they can provide during a dispute is simply invaluable.
“They have already helped save our customers thousands of pounds in reduced insurance premiums and with a 40 per cent increase in sales recently we know the savings will just keep going up.
“For Tristar Worldwide, a reduction in accidents has already saved them a great deal and the cameras will help protect their chauffeurs should they be the victim of a cash for crash scam.”
Smart Witness cameras, a bit like a black box journey recorder, fit on to 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.