The union for the City of St. Petersburg, Fla., sanitation workers is contesting the city’s decision to enter into a three-year contract for Lytx DriveCam in-vehicle camera systems, the Tampa Bay Times reported. This follows a pilot the union agreed to in 2016, which the city hoped would reduce accidents and improve driver safety.
Drivers began opposing the camera system when the city changed its policies regarding disciplinary action. When the pilot was first enacted, the city said it wouldn’t fire or discipline drivers for something a camera might catch, according to a city employee. With the permanent installation of the DriveCam system, the city changed its policy to allow disciplinary action, which led to pushback from drivers and the union.
The city and Lytx claim the cameras captured hundreds of “coachable” incidents of driver infractions to improve safety. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the same system installed in the Orange County, Fla., fleet has saved taxpayers about $2 million in the last decade.
“Everyone has the same objective, and that’s to make sure the driver gets home safely, and we know that DriveCam video is a powerful tool to help the driver do just that. It helps in two ways: it’s used just like athletes use game tapes, to help drivers learn how they can fine-tune their safe driving skills, and it can also serve as a silent witness to exonerate them in the event of false claims,” said Del Lisk, Lytx vice president, Safety Services. “There are misconceptions about the extent to which the DriveCam device can record and monitor drivers. The DriveCam event recorder operates just as it sounds — it only saves video when triggered by an unusual driving event, such as hard brake or sudden swerve or a collision, and that helps get to the root cause of that event.”
The union says their drivers are safer than other sanitation fleets, and that the cameras demonstrate zero trust in drivers, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Drivers also worried about the camera's loose wiring causing fires, although in the one incident of a fire in a vehicle with the camera system installed, the cause of fire had not been determined.
Despite union opposition, the city has signed a three-year, $200,000 contract with Lytx and will move forward with the project.