3 Legal Boundaries That Come With GPS Fleet Tracking

(STL.News) GPS fleet tracking systems are extremely useful to business managers and owners in the logistics industry.  By using these systems, managers cans keep a watchful eye on what happens with their trucks and can plan real-time solutions to unexpected problems.

Moreover, data from GPS tracking devices can be used to keep customers in the loop regarding the state of their shipment and the date of its arrival (an extremely useful feature that many logistics companies use to its full extent).

However, GPS tracking vehicles also strip their drivers of certain privacy rights while they’re working.  And, since their position is monitored constantly, drivers must follow strict rules and schedules that are not always designed with their well-being in mind. Still, many logistic companies need up-to-date information on their drivers’ activity in order to be ELD compliant and make sure the mandated hours of service (HOS) are respected.

Therefore, anyone can see that the situation is a bit unclear.  However, there are specific rules and regulations that protect both the companies’ and the drivers’ rights, and anyone involved in the logistics industry management should be aware of them.

Owners Have the Right to Track

Under US law, owners are within their rights to install GPS tracking devices on a vehicle or asset that is in their possession.  It is also mandatory to let the drivers know the vehicle they are handling has such a device installed and that their activity will be monitored at all times.

You Need a Legitimate Reason

It’s important to keep in mind that GPS tracking employees’ laws may be different from state to state and from country to country, but all of them say the same thing: you can’t legally monitor an employee’s activity using electronic means without having their informed consent.

Moreover, you also need a legitimate reason to install a GPS tracking device such as theft prevention or, in the case of logistics businesses, keeping track of hours of service and logging their hours for payment.

Pay Attention to your State Legislation

We already established that consent and prior notification of the employees are required by law, but we also know that vehicle and fleet owners have the right to install GPS tracking devices to their heart’s content (as long as they have a legitimate reason).  Pretty confusing, right?

To add to this state of confusion, each region may have different regulations in place. For instance, in some places, there may be a required minimum notification period prior to the installation of vehicle fleet tracking devices.  Also, some states require vehicle owners to include a note regarding GPS tracking in their vehicle policy, specifying the type of information and behavior that will be monitored.

What Type of Tracking Technology can be Used?

While most smartphone devices can be tracked via GPS, the law forbids tracking employees’ personal devices.  Moreover, it would not be ethical, and it may not even be that reliable since your focus should be on the vehicle and shipment, not on the driver.

Therefore, here are some of the technologies that can help further the development of the trucking industry:

  • Hardwired Devices – this is an installed solution (it requires an antenna)
  • 4G and Satellite Technology – you can use local phone networks or GPS satellites to track a fleet vehicle. Also, there are solar-powered units that can keep a battery going for years
  • Plant and Equipment Trackers – somewhat similar to the Find My Phone feature, these devices can be fixed to trucks and equipment

Wrap Up

While they may seem intrusive when used with regard to the employees’ privacy and well-being, GPS tracking systems can help logistics businesses improve productivity and reduce time spent on the road.  Also, they are effective in theft prevention and may be useful in case of damage (for insurance purposes).