Driver-Facing Cameras: Tips for Employers Considering the Technology

February 23, 2021

The emergence of in-cab camera systems, particularly driver-facing cameras, pose new challenges for the commercial trucking industry. By now, most industry professionals are familiar with the concept of in-cab camera technology: inward and outward-facing cameras are installed inside a truck’s cab and typically record on a continuous loop but do not save data until a “triggering event”—hard-braking, sharp turning or a collision, for example—occurs.

Benefits: It’s All About Protection

By design, these cameras are intended to promote safety. They record dangerous events, are used for driver training and help in identifying the cause of collisions and “trainable moments”. Along with learning from mistakes, drivers are able to collaborate with employers when reviewing video, they may be cleared from being held responsible for a collision they did not cause, and may receive company incentives for their safe-driving.

Drawbacks: Infringing on Driver Privacy

By contrast, placing an inward-facing camera in the vehicle cab creates issues surrounding privacy and confidentiality. In the courts, concerns have been raised about infringements into the private working and living space of drivers, waivers of confidentiality agreements based on a third party camera provider’s involvement, and issues of jurisdiction surrounding data preservation. On top of that, employers may face significant installation and maintenance costs.

The Balance Between Privacy Rights and a Need to Address Safety Concerns

In addressing whether driver-facing cameras are justified, courts have considered whether a legitimate safety concern is being addressed, and if so, if cameras are the best method of addressing this concern. To justify infringing on a driver’s privacy, courts have considered whether the safety concern is sufficiently serious, whether a less-intrusive means of addressing the issue exists, and whether the use of the cameras has been reasonably implemented.

For example, cement trucks being driven through large urban centres has been recognized as a significantly risky endeavor. In that context, in-cab cameras have been justified as an appropriate measure to address such a risk. By contrast, a general desire to increase safe driving has been found insufficient to justify cameras. In that context, the court found that less-intrusive measures—enhanced training, spot-checks, or using only road-facing cameras—would be sufficient.

Tips for Employers Considering In-Cab Cameras

Using driver-facing cameras risks undermining driver dignity and represents an inherent intrusion into privacy rights. The question employers must ask is whether such an intrusion is justified. Accordingly, employers considering whether to install in-cab cameras may wish to consider the following:

  • Only film when driving;
  • Engage in a discussion with employees before installing the cameras;
  • Hold training sessions on the cameras, their purpose and their benefits;
  • Institute a grace period before the cameras “go live”;
  • Revise privacy policies to, for example, (a) limit access to the recorded video and (b) institute security and data retention safeguards to ensure privacy;
  • Consider what risks need to be addressed and whether these risks justify cameras; and
  • Consider less-intrusive means of addressing identified risks.

The push for driver-facing cameras is increasing in the commercial trucking industry. While these cameras could greatly benefit employers, courts have been reluctant to condone invading employee privacy in the absence of a clearly-identified risk and a well-thought out implementation strategy. Accordingly, employers would do well to face these issues proactively and in collaboration with their employees.

Erik Heuck
Kanuka Thuringer LLP

The information in this article is provided for general interest only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice applicable to a particular person or situation. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss the issues in this article with you, in the context of your particular circumstances.

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