Should I Use a Hidden GPS Tracker

October 23, 2018 Published by

Whether you’re managing a fleet of vehicles at a business or the concerned parent of an unpredictable teen driver, there are times when you may ask yourself, “should I use a hidden GPS tracker?” It’s not an easy question to answer. Of course, you want to trust your child and your employees, and you want to be transparent. We’ve already talked about what employees think about GPS tracking at work, as well as how GPS tracking helps you ensure your teen is driving safely.

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In both case cases, it’s usually best to be open about the fact that you’re using a device or an app to keep track of where your vehicles are, their condition, and how much time they’re being driven, as well as things like vehicle speed, breaking habits, and how far off course an employee or a teen might be driving. You don’t want your employees or your kids to think you don’t trust them. But what about when you don’t trust an employee? Or what happens when your teen outsmarts your ability to know where they are when they’re driving the family vehicle? Should you consider installing a hidden GPS tracker?

What are the legal issues of covertly installed GPS trackers?

We’ve already covered when it’s usually legal to use a vehicle GPS tracker, but there are some gray areas, and you still should check your local and state laws on specific regulations for tracking any fleet vehicles or even your teenage children, especially if you’re considering using a hidden GPS tracking device.

In most states, it’s generally legal to install any type of GPS tracker in a vehicle that you own. However, even in that case, it’s not always clear if an employer is required to tell employees if the business is using GPS to track a company vehicle the employee is operating. It’s probably ok to covertly use GPS tracking if your business owns the vehicle, but only if your employee wouldn’t expect they have privacy while operating the vehicle. Also, in states like California, it’s illegal to track your employees without their consent.

Where the law isn’t clear is in situations where your employee owns the vehicle, but they must use their vehicle to perform key job functions. You definitely can’t secretly install GPS tracking in a vehicle that your employee owns. However, it might be ok to use GPS tracking in their vehicle during business hours. According to the corporate law firm, Greensfelder blog, Impact, a New York state court found that a GPS device installed on New York state employee’s personal vehicle that they used for work who had been suspected of falsifying time cards amounted to an unreasonable search. The same court found that if the tracking had occurred during working hours, that the GPS tracking would have been legal and not a violation of the employee’s constitutional rights.

When you might consider using a hidden GPS Tracker

If you’ve verified it’s legal, and you own the vehicle or vehicles in question, then there might be some circumstances where you would consider using hidden GPS trackers rather than one that your employees or a teen driver can detect or see and/or without notifying your employees or your kids that the vehicle is being tracked.

1. Teen Drivers

If you’re the parent of a teenage driver who routinely sneaks out at night or one who has outsmarted an existing teen tracking system, you might consider installing a covert GPS tracker such as our Smart Fleet devices, that has no visible antenna and that’s installed under the dash where it can’t be detected or easily disabled.

2. Fleet Tracking

If you suspect one or more employees might be misusing company vehicles, or billing for any time when they weren’t using a company vehicle in the course of performing work-related duties, you might decide it’s time to install hidden GPS trackers on all your fleet vehicles. Additionally, if you’ve had a problem with too many employees trying to jam or disable other types of GPS tracking, switching to Smart Fleet trackers or a similar kind of device might be a solution.

When it’s not a good idea even if legal

At the beginning of the post, we talked about trust. It’s probably not a good idea to secretly use GPS tracking even on vehicles you own that are being driven by employees you know are doing the right thing, and who would never try to disable or jam your existing fleet tracking, even if all they had to do was unplug it from a diagnostic port. Similarly, if your teen follows the rules, and does their best to drive safely, then you probably want to be open about using GPS to track the family vehicle.

Your employees and your kids might be okay with GPS vehicle tracking if they know the vehicles they drive use it. There might even be some benefits to them in the form of rewards or bonuses for safe driving and fuel efficiency. Employees might appreciate knowing when a vehicle they drive is due for maintenance. They might feel more secure that their paychecks are accurate from better timekeeping.

Smart Fleet Track GPS Tracking

Even if you use a “covert” GPS tracking device such as Smart Fleet Track, you don’t have to keep it a secret. Smart Fleet and other hidden devices are convenient because they’re small, and don’t require an external antenna. They’re tamper-proof and are usually installed where it’s hard for even the least honest employees can find them such as under the dashboard or in the A-Frame Pillar.

Plus these little devices pack the same powerful punch as the larger, more overt devices. They have all the same driver accountability, vehicle theft protection, and employee productivity benefits as other fleet tracking devices, and they can be integrated with your Garmin navigation terminal to add dispatch and navigation capabilities too.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to answering the question of whether or not to hide a GPS tracker in a vehicle you own, whether that vehicle is a company car or a delivery truck, or if it’s the family vehicle your teenager drives, the choice isn’t simple. You should consult Federal law, the laws of your state, as well as whether or not you plan to disclose that you’re using GPS tracking on your vehicles. You also have to consider what might happen if your employees think you don’t trust them or worse that you’re spying on them.

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What do you think? Have you tried covertly tracking your fleet? Did you catch any dishonest employees? Let us know your stories and thoughts about hidden GPS tracking in the comments section below.

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