Vehicle tracking is useful in a number of important ways. It provides companies a way to keep track of their drivers for safety and administrative reasons, and can decrease misuse of company property. Drivers that work alone get an added measure of safety, and the tracking equipment makes it easy to find the nearest vehicle when needed. However, fleet tracking can be a sensitive issue if not done correctly.
Luckily, the law is pretty clear on the subject. Some uses of vehicle trackers are allowed and some are not. There are few gray areas. A solid knowledge of how UK law stipulates that this information may be obtained and used is important for businesses planning on employing fleet tracking.
In the UK, the basic rule is that tracking any vehicle at any time is legal, so long as the person driving it knows they are being tracked. This means that businesses are free to install vehicle trackers on their fleet, but must inform all of their employees immediately. There are no exceptions for private citizens– only police and other authorized law enforcement may use covert trackers.
The Data Protection Act (1998) also applies to most uses of professional vehicle tracking. Personal data and privacy are protected under the law, and this includes a lot of information gathered during work hours. Businesses must take pains to be aware of what constitutes personal information, because it may not be immediately obvious.
The Data Protection Act defines personal information as information obtained about an individual that could potentially impact a person in a professional or personal way. The Act usually applies when vehicles are tracked because the tracker gives the monitoring personnel the ability to know where each person is at any given time. Tracking information like this could be used in a professional or personal capacity, even if it usually is not. It is the information obtained, not the way that the business uses it, that determines what is personal data.
Vehicle tracking is a useful tool. While some employees may resent it, many will be grateful for the additional safety it provides and most will understand its use as a professional tool. However, businesses must take every precaution in order to comply with all applicable laws.