What States Require Driver Consent for GPS Tracking and Video Telematics?
Using GPS tracking and video recording is common in modern fleet management. GPS tracking improves navigation, helps drivers find faster routes by avoiding traffic, and helps them save on gas. Businesses are also able to provide their clients with up-to-the-minute updates about shipment locations and driver progress. But businesses need to consider whether they are legally allowed to use these tools.
Video telematics, like dash cams, provide extra protection in the event of accidents. It also prevents fraud, and helps deter against theft and driver misconduct. As preventive measures, cameras lower insurance costs and give business owners an added sense of security.
Laws in some states do not allow people to be tracked or recorded without their consent. Research the laws in the states where you operate, to ensure you’re conducting business legally.
States Requiring Driver Consent for GPS Tracking
Employers can track any company-owned vehicle at any time without user consent. But, if you track your employees using their own devices or in their own vehicles, that’s another concern.
Tracking employee vehicles without an employee’s express consent is illegal in Texas, Virginia, California, Minnesota, and Tennessee. Outside those states, though, it may be illegal to monitor your employees’ personal vehicles without their knowledge or consent. That behavior could violate privacy laws.
A device personally owned by an employee should not be tracked at off-hours without the employee’s knowledge and express consent because of potential privacy law violations or other local legal issues that might arise in any state.
States Requiring Consent for Video Recordings
Recording an employee on video without their express consent raises several legal concerns for companies. Video surveillance laws differ from state to state. So do laws surrounding recorded conversations. In some states, one-party consent is all that’s required. Others require two-party consent for audio and video recording.
In most states, citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy. But there are some ambiguities among state laws.
Businesses in New Hampshire, Maine, South Dakota, Kansas, and Delaware need consent to use camera surveillance of any kind where the camera is not in plain sight. Tennessee, Michigan, and Utah allow for video surveillance without permission in public places, but require consent for hidden cameras in places considered private. Company vehicles or locations do not give drivers an expectation of privacy.
Hawaii requires consent from those being watched if you want to install cameras in any location.
Florida, Alabama, and Minnesota only allow hidden video surveillance in non-private locations. It is important to distinguish the legal definition of a private place, based upon the state. In most places, a “private place” is a place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, like a bathroom, locker room, changing room, bedroom, or shower.
California state law says it is illegal for anyone to record communications considered confidential. If a conversation is intended to be between two people, it’s not legal for a third party to record any part of that conversation. Since video cameras have audio recording capability, this is important to note because California requires all parties to consent to a legal recording of a conversation.
Georgia permits video surveillance in public and private places, so long as cameras are in plain sight.
Arkansas requires consent to legally record people in private places. Company vehicles do not provide drivers with an expectation of privacy.
Dash Cam Laws for Fleet Managers
Fleet managers and owners need to understand how to comply with laws that cover dash cams, in order to avoid fines. If dash cams are used illegally, even unintentionally, managers can be liable.
Dash cams that record audio, for instance, may accidentally record a conversation without the express permission of the participants. That’s against the law in Connecticut, California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Recording unknowing passengers in those states can result in fines or jail time. Fleet managers in those states should make sure their drivers know to get consent before recording any in-cab conversations on dash cams, or to turn off camera microphones.
Also, using a dash cam to capture video of a private residence could be considered an invasion of privacy in some situations.
California changed its restrictions in 2011 to allow dash cams in fleet vehicles, so long as they don’t restrict airbags, or block too much of a driver’s sightline through a windshield. Cameras installed in a lower corner of a windshield can’t block more than seven square inches. And cameras placed at the upper center of a windshield can’t be larger than five square inches.
Protecting Your Business and Your Team
The right choices are key in the fleet management business. Developing trust with your employees, particularly your team of truckers, builds loyalty and better workplace morale. So, you’re best off to disclose any recording or tracking equipment you intend to use, and to get consent from your drivers before recording.
GPS Trackit provides many fleet management options to help improve your business while complying with the laws in your state. To find a system that best suits your business, speak to a fleet advisor.
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