For businesses from enterprise trucking to small fleets of field service providers, the question of tracking, video and privacy will inevitably surface. One of our customers at Thompson Trading recently used the GPS Trackit solution to uncover some employee behaviors that went against protocol, costing the company in wasted labor costs. Once they learned what was happening, correcting those employee behaviors created an “instant ROI” in the form of eliminating wasteful costs stemming from unethical behavior.
Ethics goes both ways — just as people call into question the motives of companies who leverage GPS tracking and telematics, business owners likewise have a reasonable expectation that their employees will abide by the policies and covenants agreed to when they chose to seek employment at the business. As questions circulate concerning privacy and ethics in the world of telematics and GPS tracking, let’s take a moment to unpack a few key questions:
- What level of privacy are drivers afforded?
- How secure is ELD hardware?
- How is telematics data stored and used?
- Safety vs. privacy: what about drowsy driving, distracted driving and other high-risk driver behaviors?
A Driver’s Rights to Privacy: What Is Legal?
While many states require driver consent when it comes to video tracking and telematics, in-vehicle monitoring systems are a standard industry practice. In fact, California ruled that driver-facing dash cams are not a privacy violation. Despite the many who’ve cried wolf or lambasted the idea of “big brother” limiting a driver’s privacy and freedom, many drivers feel safer knowing that the dash cam is logging a record of what’s happening. This record becomes massively important when an incident occurs on the road. In companies that have struggled to get driver buy-in, developing a driver incentive program that rewards safe driving and compliance with internal policies has been proved quite effective.
The FMCSA Clearinghouse
Outside of in-vehicle tracking, the FMCSA operates a clearing house that monitors driver eligibility to operate CMVs and to hold a CDL. Specifically the FMCSA requires that:
- Employers must query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol violations before permitting those employees to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on public roads.
- Employers must annually query the Clearinghouse for each driver they currently employ.
The ELD Mandate
The FMCSA initially published the Electronic Logging Devices Mandate in December of 2015, requiring drivers to keep an electronic log of their time behind the wheel. This regulation also permits a motor carrier to use technology to track its commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in real-time for business purposes. A motor carrier is free to use this data as long as it does not engage in harassment or violate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). However, in transmitting data to safety officials, ELDs must limit location information to protect driver privacy.
How Secure Is ELD Hardware?
As cybersecurity becomes increasingly crucial, it’s a good idea to consider the security of the hardware in our commercial vehicles. In 2020, an FBI bulletin circulated across the trucking industry warning of the vulnerabilities to ELD cybersecurity. Should an ELD be compromised by a hacker, the issue is that ELDs create a bridge between previously unconnected systems critical to trucking operations. This could expose sensitive company data to the wrong eyes.
The FCMSA also released its best practices guiding document on ELD cybersecurity for retrofitting and integrating more secure ELD hardware—a document that the FBI cites in its findings on ELD security.
GPS Trackit takes data security seriously and is well-aware of these pitfalls and provides its customers with FCMSA-compliant ELD hardware.
How Is Telematics Data Used and Stored?
In terms of value, telematics data can be used to help fleet managers more efficiently manage operations in several ways:
- Reducing fuel costs
- Ensuring driver accountability
- Incident reporting
- Tracking assets
- Loss prevention
When paired with AI tools, these telematics “big data” sets can also be used for other predictive applications like:
- Optimizing routes
- Determining when service is needed before issues arise
- Monitoring & detecting driver behaviors such as speeding, harsh stops, fatigue and other concerns.
Most solutions store data in databases leveraging cloud-based technology and IoT which can then be integrated with related applications through the use of an API.
GPS Trackit has developed an open Application Programming Interface (API) that functions as a web service, enabling customers and third-party developers to efficiently move vehicle location, performance and engine diagnostic data to other systems. We’re compatible with thousands of companies, and our dedicated Fleet Advisors will work with you to ensure all your integration needs are met.
Safety vs. privacy: what about drowsy driving, distracted driving and other high-risk driver behaviors?
In an ethical consideration of the privacy argument, it’s logical to take a utilitarian approach to the question of whether monitoring driver behavior is ethically sound. In this case, the pros outweigh the cons. In the case of safety, the ability of tools to track behavior like drowsy or distracted driving has the power to save lives. And as IVMS options continue to evolve and get “smarter,” we’re on the cusp of some real breakthroughs in “AI-assisted” driving. At GPS Trackit, our video telematics solutions generate distracted driving alerts, ensure safety compliance and have been proven to reduce incident frequency.
Are you considering a video telematics option for your business? If you’d like to learn more about partnering with GPS Trackit, contact a Fleet Advisor who can help you understand what solution is right for you.