SAINT-HYACINTHE, Que. — The Quebec Superior Court has officially sided with truck drivers in a five-year battle concerning driver-facing cameras.
On Sept. 11, Sysco Quebec was ordered by the court to remove driver-facing cameras in all of its trucks, claiming that the driver-facing Lytx DriveCams were not the only way Sysco could promote safety in its fleet, and there were other “less intrusive” methods to do so.
The battle of the cameras began in 2012 when Sysco Quebec invested in camera technology and installed driver- and outward-facing cameras in its trucks. The decision to do this did not sit well with drivers, who found the driver-facing cameras a gross invasion of privacy.
According to Lytx, the cameras only begin recording seconds before, during, and seconds after an accident to capture the full story of the incident. However, some drivers said the cameras recorded randomly throughout the day.
Now, with the Superior Court’s ruling, the driver-facing cameras will be out of the Sysco cabs for good.
And while most drivers across Canada are taking this as a win, Heather Devine, a transportation lawyer at Isaacs & Co., says they should be less than thrilled with this decision.
“I think it’s short-sighted of the drivers,” she said. “Because what’s the first thing that happens when a truck is involved in an accident? The truck driver is blamed. And when the truck driver is blamed, the reasons given are usually fatigue or distraction. For fatigue, one can look at the driver’s hours-of-service records but for distractions, you can look at cell phone records, but on the other hand, if you have an in-cab camera, and the driver is working, then you have very good evidence that you can use in court that shows the driver wasn’t distracted and was fully compliant.”
Devine goes even further to say that though truck drivers have their own unique workspace, it doesn’t exactly entitle them to privacy while working.
“Look at any office,” she said. “Many office spaces today are open concept. People watch people working all the time. Just because drivers work in solitude doesn’t mean they have a right to privacy.”
As far as this ruling setting a precedent for the rest of the fleets in Canada, Devine said she is unsure if this will prevent other fleets in Canada from installing driver-facing cameras, simply because this ruling was in Quebec.
“Quebec’s governed by civil code, and every other province is governed by common law,” she said. “So, as a lawyer, if I was covering a similar case, I would always look for an Ontario precedent first, and then I would take note of the Quebec precedent.”
Sysco did not respond to Truck News’ attempts to get a comment before publication.
Lytx commented on the situation saying, “Our understanding of the Sysco ruling was that it was fact-specific and unique to Sysco.”