How to Balance Employee Privacy and Company Vehicle Tracking

May 19, 2023 Published by
Employee Privacy and Company Vehicle Tracking

GPS technologies monitor operator safety. They provide dispatchers with constant location information, making responding to road emergencies easier.

Telematic GPS tracking systems monitor engine performance, fuel efficiency, and your drivers’ behavior on the road. Some drivers have some difficulty with that last point.

What Fleet Operators Need to Know About GPS Tracking and the Law

There are some boundaries for GPS tracking state and federal laws.

For instance, you don’t have the right to install a GPS tracking device in a vehicle you do not own. If you employ an outside salesperson and they use their own car, you do not have the legal right to install a tracking device in it. They can, of course, give your permission to provide them with a dash cam for their safety or a tracking device that links with your dispatch office’s schedule software for their convenience.

The laws of most states specify that you can install GPS tracking devices in a vehicle that you own, a vehicle that you lease, or a vehicle that you lease to another person or company.

In any other situation, you probably should not be installing a GPS tracking device. Or if you do, you should secure the written consent of the person who owns or uses the vehicle first.

Just Having a Legal Right to Install GPS Tracking Does Not Mean You Do Not Need a Written Policy

Some states, like California and Texas, have laws about stalking and harassment that are open to interpretation (although the laws in California and Texas define the illegal behaviors very differently).

It’s OK to monitor your asset during your employee’s off-duty hours. It’s not OK to monitor your employee during off-duty hours.

You have a right to know where, when, and how long your vehicle is parked overnight. You have a right to know if your vehicle is used for private business without your permission (and you need to keep in mind that allowing your vehicle to be used for non-business purposes with your permission voids many commercial liability policies).

You cannot use GPS monitoring in any activity that could be construed as stalking (for example, in California) or intentionally annoying (as specified in Texas law) the people who work for you.

Avoid this problem by establishing a written policy for the use of GPS monitoring of your vehicles and other assets. Your written GPS monitoring policy should:

  • Notify your employee that your company vehicles are equipped with GPS tracking technology. This notice prevents any future claim of invasion of privacy (as long as tracking is being installed in company vehicles). Get each employee to sign a copy of this notice and maintain it in their personnel folder.
  • Establish an official policy that you do not monitor employees when they are not on the job. But have a policy in writing that you review with your employees that you retain the right to use GPS tracking to determine the location, operation, and use of your vehicles 24/7.
  • Limit your use of smartphone tracking. If your employee has a company phone, it is legitimate for you to track the phone at any time. It is permissible for you to use smartphone data to determine the location of your employee during working hours. Using smartphone data to track your employee when they are not on the clock is not permissible.

You need to have a written policy on tracking. You need to explain it to your employees before they go out on the job. You need written documentation that they have been informed of your policy.

And, because we are not attorneys, we suggest you have your company attorney or your HR specialist review your tracking policy before you post it.

What About Other Kinds of Electronic Monitoring?

GPS Technologies provides telematic tracking technologies for fleets of all sizes. We can help you install technology that tells you when your driver has to hit the brakes. This technology informs your dispatch center when a vehicle is traveling out of bounds beyond its present geofences. There is a technology that tells you when a driver opens the door, how long a vehicle idles, how long your operators spend on delivery, and whether they engage in unsafe driving behaviors on the road.

Many of your more experienced operators who began their careers without this kind of monitoring don’t completely trust it. We suggest that the best way to deal with this issue is to use driver safety monitoring as the basis of driver safety rewards. Use your telematic monitoring to incentivize your drivers to continue doing their jobs well and identify drivers needing remedial instruction.

Dashcams present trickier issues. There are dash cams that record everything that is going on inside the cab and everything happening on the road. Some are equipped with sound.

Don’t try to hide this kind of technology. Explain to your operators that recording what goes on inside the cab provides documentary evidence that can prove they were not at fault in a crash.

Make sure that your operators know that most driver-facing cameras operate in a loop. They record over earlier footage until there is an incident on the road.

Most cameras will save footage starting 10 seconds before a crash. Make sure your operators know this. Sure, this means you will know if they make major mistakes that lead to a crash. But more often, driver-facing cameras prove the operator was in the right.

GPS Technologies serves customers all over the United States. Request a custom quote online, or call us for more information at (847) 382-5107. GPS has the products and the expertise you need to succeed with fleeting monitoring.

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This post was written by Malcolm Rosenfeld

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