5 Basic Requirements for GPS Tracking in Company Vehicles

June 21, 2023 Published by

Thinking of putting in GPS to keep track of your employees while they are on the road? Here are five basic guidelines:
Every employer has a right to track company-owned vehicles during work hours.

  • Employers usually have a right to track leased vehicles during work hours, but they typically need permission to hardwire GPS tracking devices into the onboard electronics of vehicles they do not own. We mention some exceptions to the rule below.
  • Employers generally do not have an unrestricted right to track employees who use their own vehicles for travel away from the employee’s place of business. You might be able to install GPS tracking to confirm mileage logs for outside salespeople if you only use GPS tracking while your employees are on the clock. You generally do not have a right to track contractors in their cars.
  • You should only monitor employees to the extent necessary for your business.
  • It is always better to have a written policy regarding GPS tracking that you distribute to employees before they go on the road, and you obtain written consent before installing any tracking devices in vehicles you do not own.

None of these rules apply to GPS telematic monitoring of the mechanical performance of vehicles you own, GPS tracking devices installed in equipment you own, or integrating GPS technologies with your accounting or billing systems. All of these steps benefit the smooth, profitable operation of any company with a fleet of vehicles.

GPS-enabled systems are invaluable in responding to breakdowns, lockouts, and accidents on the road. There will be times when your GPS saves time, inconvenience, or even lives by giving your dispatch office a way to quickly respond to the people on your team in certain kinds of emergencies.

But you need to write your GPS tracking policy with employee privacy in mind, even if you are using GPS to stay in compliance with state or federal law.

Let’s take a look at the finer points of GPS tracking.

Track property, not people

Many states have laws that balance an employee’s right to privacy with the employer’s right to protect their property.

Section 637.7 of the California State Penal Code, for example, says:

“No person or entity in this state shall use an electronic tracking device to determine the location or movement of a person.”
It also says:

“This section shall not apply when the registered owner, lessor, or lessee of a vehicle has consented to the use of the electronic tracking device with respect to that vehicle.”

So, if you operate in California, you don’t need to get employee permission to track your own vehicle. You don’t need permission to track a vehicle you lease.

There may still be clauses in union agreements that you must consider when establishing your GPS tracking policy in California.
In Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, the law requires the consent of the owner of the vehicle before installing a tracking device. In these states, you can’t install GPS tracking in a leased vehicle unless the leasing company agrees to it.

You can be sure, however, that the leasing company already has GPS tracking of their own. However, you may need your own system to integrate it into your accounting and control systems at your dispatch office.

It is important to remember that these laws give you the right to use GPS to track property, not people. You can use GPS, for example, to locate your vehicle at the end of a shift. You cannot then use that information to knock on your employee’s door, track down your employee to a bar, restaurant, or soccer game, or otherwise keep tabs on them when they are off the clock.

There are exceptions to the rules

Federal law has created some exceptions to the rules about tracking property, not people.

Bus and truck drivers have been required since 2015 to use electronic logging devices to keep track of their hours on the road. Since the beginning of 2023, home health care and hospice agencies must use electronic visit verification for all their house calls covered by Medicaid and Medicare.

Sometimes, federal law requires a certain amount of intrusion into employee privacy for public safety. You can’t get in trouble for complying with federal law. And you can keep out of trouble by keeping some additional principles in mind when you formalize your GPS tracking policy.

How to explain GPS tracking to your employees

Nobody likes being tracked.

Failure to explain your company’s stance on GPS when onboarding new employees and when making changes to the policy damages employee relationships and weakens loyalty to the company.

Talk with your employees about what the tracking policy requires of them and how it protects them. Use GPS tracking to reward safe driving and appropriate care for company property.

Ensure your employees understand how GPS tracking reduces their time making deliveries and service calls. Explain how GPS tracking makes it easier to respond to emergencies and lockouts. Explain how GPS telematics can help them prove their good driving habits in case of a crash and how GPS telematics helps your company keep vehicles in optimum mechanical condition.

Create a written GPS tracking policy and make sure each employee signs a copy.

Give your employees a reason to feel glad they are being tracked

GPS tracking is always more palatable to employees if used honestly and transparently. Also helpful is using GPS tracking to reward employee driving behaviors that lower fuel expense and prevent accidents, and compensate employees for consistently efficient, on-time, flawless delivery.

Use GPS to create a constant presence with your drivers throughout the day. Show them that you appreciate their work. Use GPS to show them you have their back.

Contact GPS Technologies for more information on how GPS tracking can work for your company. Or call us at (847) 382-5107 weekdays from 8 until 5 Eastern for answers to all your questions about GPS tracking for cars, trucks, and fleets.

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