Balancing privacy and driver-facing dash cams

Jaclyne Reive

While outward-facing dash cameras are becoming more common, trucking companies are increasingly asking the question of whether they can use driver-facing dash cams to monitor their drivers, and if so, what privacy laws apply.

Generally, driver-facing dash cams can be installed and used on a limited basis, but a company should strongly consider the purposes for which it wishes to use the camera, and whether there are less-invasive ways to gather the information that it needs. If a driver-facing camera is used, there are privacy policy and notice requirements that will apply to the trucking company, in addition to restrictions on data collection, use, disclosure and storage.

dash cams
Driver-facing dash cams can offer insights, but there are privacy issues to consider. How will the data be used? (Photo: Lytx)

Privacy legislation

Personal information means any information about an identifiable individual. This can include the person’s name, age, address, financial information, preferences and even images, among other information.The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) governs the protection of personal information of employees, where they are employed by a federal work or undertaking. This includes extra-provincial motor carriers, which operate beyond the boundaries of a single province or territory.

In provinces that have not enacted their own privacy legislation, PIPEDA also applies in relation to the personal information of identifiable individuals who are not employees. For motor carriers, this includes personal information about individuals who are owner-operators and independent contractors, and the drivers employed by independent contractors.

Privacy at work

Employees are expected to have some privacy at work, but there is still a general expectation that some of their privacy will be given up while working. However, employers are required to balance their “need to know” about an employee’s personal information with that employee’s right to privacy.

Here are some compliance tips for motor carriers that use driver-facing dash cameras:

  1. The company should only collect personal information that it actually needs and for appropriate purposes. The recording of the employee would constitute personal information for the purposes of PIPEDA.
  2. The company should consider the reasons why it wishes use the driver-facing dash cams, whether there is a legitimate business reason for using them, and whether there is a less invasive way to obtain that information.
  3. The driver must have knowledge and have consented to the use of the camera, before it is installed and used.
  4. Communicate the purpose for the cameras to the drivers, explain how the dash cam will work and how the company intends to collect the personal information, how it will be storing it, when it would be disclosed and what it will be doing with that information.
  5. Avoid using cameras that continuously record the driver. Instead, it should only turn on when there is a hard brake, or at random intervals, and only record for a very limited period of time.
  6. If the installation of the dash-cams is going to be done on a random basis or if the intent is to continuously monitor only certain drivers, then the particular driver needs to be informed.
  7. Avoid monitoring everything the driver is doing at all times, and instead only review the footage if there is a real reason to do so.
  8. Be sure to limit the number of persons who have access to the footage.
  9. The footage must be stored in a safe and secure manner.
  10. Use the recordings only for the limited purposes for which the information was collected, and only keep the recordings for as long as they are needed for that purpose, unless the company has the driver’s consent to do otherwise.
  11. If requested by the employee, provide the employee with access to his or her recordings and other personal information on file. The employee should have the right to challenge the accuracy and completeness of it.

The details in the list above should not only be implemented in practice but also be reflected in a privacy policy that specifically relates to the dash cams. The policy should be circulated to all drivers who will be in a vehicle with a driver-facing camera. If possible, the company should try to obtain signatures from the drivers acknowledging that they have read and understand the policy.

Other considerations

There may be other implications of recording your drivers. The footage might reveal information that could be harmful or unhelpful if used as evidence during litigation. There may also be additional considerations if any of the employees are unionized.

Key takeaways

Driver-facing dash cameras should only be used with the knowledge and informed consent of the driver. The cameras should not be used if there is a less-invasive way to obtain the required information. Cameras that continuously monitor the driver should be avoided and instead, recordings/snapshots should be limited to random intervals or aggressive events (e.g. hard stops).

The purpose and need for the camera, what information it will collect, how that information will be accessed, stored and disclosed, and the other information described above should be reflected in a privacy policy that the driver has reviewed. If you have any questions about how to implement proper privacy practices for dash cams, please feel free to reach out to Miller Thomson’s Transportation & Logistics Team.

 

 

Jaclyne Reive

Jaclyne Reive is a lawyer in Miller Thomson’s Transportation & Logistics Group. She can be reached at jreive@millerthomson.com. This article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute a solicitor-client relationship or legal advice.

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  • There is no good or valid safety reason to have a driver facing camera that will help a trucking company avoid a charge or lawsuit in the event of an accident. A driver facing camera can only hurt you.
    Take this example … your driver is approaching an intersection, and he has the green light. As every driver should, your driver first looks left and verifies no traffic threats, looks right and verifies no traffic threats, then looks left again to reconfirm no traffic threats. At this point during the second look left, a motorcycle blows through the red light on the driver’s right and is run over by the right front of the truck.
    The only thing the driver facing camera shows is that your driver was not looking at the threat and was in fact looking away from it. How do you think that is going to play out in a civil court in Texas, or anywhere else for that matter?
    If you, as a carrier or insurer, are going to insist on driver facing cameras, you should probably order extra cheques at the same time. You are certain to need them.

  • Why are you saying that companies are using to watch drivers when in fact most are probably using
    1- In the case of an accident/incident
    2- When receiving a notice of actions out of the norm ie: hard breaks, vehicle motion etc.
    3- Actual teaching tool to help drivers when there are incidents of hard break etc.

    Your article tends to paint companies as using it as a spy tool which of course fires up the drivers and that I would believe in most cases is absolutely wrong. I can tell you from experience that we have used on or Hutton fleet for years and are just in the process of converting all our fleets and your article will do nothing to help us in our business plan to ensure a good and safe environment to work in. Your article does nothing but paint the wrong picture of cameras intent and i believe you should have reached out to the market to do research.

    Jaclyne i fully support driver privacy and it can be compensated (not by money)for when installing the cameras but they also are effective in not only protecting the employee but also the employer. Your article is informative and we will review our policies but i feel it really is slanted to far to the left as a bad thing. Thank you for the article

    • Which market would you have liked her to reach out to? Did carriers ‘reach out’ to the driver market before implementing the cameras? I highly doubt it.

      • My company records continuously we get a text jist out of the blue saying visors in the way can not use that even on sunny days. Or i see you got out of your truck is there a reason for that. I keep telling them i do have the right to privacy at work and they just laugh and say if thats what you think.

  • With the use of forward facing dash cams, companies can still obtain the information that they are looking for should accident happen. Not only that they can also download the information from engine ecm.
    To me the company is spying on the driver.
    Would you work for a company that has a driver facing dash cam?
    How drivers would leave a company that would install a driver facing dash cam.

  • My company has had event recording driver facing cameras since I started and recently updated them to an Ai type camera without notifying drivers. I’m in a team truck and when we were leaving our yard I was on sleeper berth and my cod river was driving and since we were just starting our week we were talking with the curtain open. I changed clothes knowing he was driving and wasn’t going to turn around and all of a sudden the camera started recording with no hard breaking event or anything similar. The company never told us they were updating the cameras from event recording to whatever they are now. Is there any steps I can take legally with my employer.

  • No good can come of this data. We all know a lawyer can and will scrutinize all and any info to create or reinforce a narrative. No human driver will do everything perfectly at all times.
    Gathering and keeping excessive data like does not aid in reducing liability, it creates a liability.
    Even simple log entries showing an event file was reviewed, video deleted are a liability as the people reviewing the data will be put on the stand and asked why there was 10 event entries on a driver and video was deleted. What are you hiding and should that driver even have been employed and able to be at the accident location if he had so many events.

  • So the company installed the lynx camera facing driver and out but my real question is a driver fell asleep and ran of road hit sign but was okay and another driver ran a red light and got fired so how would you take something from that

  • I was recently fired for being on a hands free phone call. They showed me the video and they listened to my conversation. Is tht invasion of privacy. It happened in nj