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Do carriers need a driver’s permission to use a dashcam?
  • Dashcams are like workplace surveillance cameras, they can record what is occurring in front of the truck and in the cab but, like restrictions on cameras in restrooms, are not permitted in the sleeper berth.
  • In some labor union environments, there may be a need to negotiate the use of the dashcam before proceeding with installation.
  • For the owner-operator whose truck and services are leased to a motor carrier, the use of a dashcam is a term of the contract to be negotiated.

Dashcams are becoming a popular risk management tool with motor carriers. The devices can record not only what is happening in front of the truck, but also what is occurring in the cab. Some drivers resist the use of dashcams, and the driver-facing units often result in claims of invasion of privacy.

Carriers need to know if a release is needed from the driver to install a dashcam in the vehicle.

Does a right to privacy exist?

Since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not mandate dashcams, the answer lies in employment and privacy laws. No current state or federal law or regulation prohibits a carrier from installing cameras in its trucks.

The devices are equivalent to surveillance cameras in the workplace. Of course, cameras are not permitted in the sleeper berth. This is similar to the restrictions placed on surveillance cameras in restrooms, locker rooms, and other compromising locations at an employer’s facility.

Does a right to refuse exist?

Of course, a driver always has the right to refuse the installation of a dashcam. By refusing installation, a driver is not in violation of any FMCSA regulations. However, company policy will dictate how the carrier proceeds with a reluctant driver.

The refusal is no different than failing to follow any other corporate policy that is not required by regulation. However, in some labor union environments, there may be a need to negotiate the use of the equipment before proceeding with installation. For the owner-operator whose truck and services are leased to a motor carrier, the installation of a dashcam is a term of the contract to be negotiated. The decision to use (or not use) a contractor who fails to agree to a carrier’s terms is a matter of personal preference.

What does the carrier’s policy state?

If a carrier plans on using dashcams, it will need a dashcam policy. The policy should include discipline and corrective actions for those drivers who refuse installation or try to disable or tamper with the equipment.