Professionals interested in tracking commercial vehicle fleets should be aware that vehicle tracking laws apply. While most of the benefits and advantages of vehicle tracking can still be reaped in a law-abiding way, some yellow lines exist which should never be crossed, mostly related to concerns over data privacy, human rights and employee rights.
Vehicle tracking laws and best practices
In addition to the applicable legal framework, vehicle tracking may also be governed unofficially by industry respected best practices.
Notwithstanding the implications of Labour Law, vehicle tracking law is in fact governed by two legal texts: The Data Protection Act of 1998, and article 8 of the Human Rights Acts or 1998 relating to the privacy rights of the individual.
- The Data Protection Act provides that the monitoring of vehicle movements, , where the vehicle is allocated to a specific driver, and information about the performance of the vehicle, is allowed under certain conditions. Act also helps understand what data can be assimilated to personal data, how to collect, use it and share this data.
- The Human Rights Act defines what can be, and what can’t be done with personal data.
The problem with these legal sources is that they relate to vehicle tracking, without explicitly mentioning it. Legal guidance should therefore be sought in order to correctly assess what can, and what can’t be done.
However, there’s a few best practices applied by most companies within the industry which are easier to understand.
- Always inform the driver that he or she is being tracked when such is the case,
- Always inform the driver of exactly what is monitored, for what purpose, and when,
- Allow drivers to escape tracking when the vehicle is used for personal motives, or outside working hours,
- What is tracked is the vehicle, not the driver,
- Benefits must always justify the adverse impact, especially if the tracked vehicle is used privately.
- If it’s uncertain whether the date is personal data or not, apply practices and legal framework related to personal data,
- Sum up all tracking-related details in a comprehensive, legible, and transparent Company policy document.
A summary of what’s legal and what’s not
As vehicle tracking laws may seem obscure to many professionals, here’s what should always be kept in mind.
Legal vehicle tracking practices
The following practices are legal:
- Tracking of business vehicles - cars, vans, trucks... any vehicle as long as it belongs to the company,
- Tracking business vehicles which are also used privately by the employee
- Covert tracking, that is, using a hidden tracker, is allowed as long as the employee is aware of this,
Illegal vehicle tracking practices
Conversely, the following practices are absolutely banned by vehicle tracking laws:
- Tracking any vehicle without informing the driver, and receiving his or her consent,
- Tracking employees themselves: it’s the vehicle that’s tracked, not the individual human being.
Now, if we look at it from the driver’s perspective, specific interdictions prevail:
- For instance, it’s absolutely illegal to use GPS-jamming devices, which is an offense against the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 2006, and carries unlimited fines and up to two years of imprisonment.