United States: Should You Add Monitoring Devices To Your Company Vehicles?

Last Updated: June 15 2016
Article by D. Albert Brannen

Highway accidents remain the leading cause of work-related deaths and also carry tremendous personal, social and economic costs. The good news is new technologies in on-board safety monitoring systems are being developed and implemented in both commercial fleets and private vehicles to offer the potential to further improve safety.

These technologies allow employers to collect safety-specific information related to employees' on-the-road behavior and performance — but there are some real risks and limitations employers should know about before installing them.

Why monitor at all?

Employers may have a number of reasons for installing monitoring devices in vehicles. At a minimum, the installation of such devices could result in the promotion and encouragement of safer driving practices simply because drivers know they are being monitored.

The use of these devices can also result in more efficient routing of vehicles or a decrease in unauthorized vehicle usage and unscheduled stops. Data from these devices could be used as teaching tools to reduce the likelihood of future accidents.

Similarly, in case of an accident, data from a monitoring device could be used to establish how the accident occurred and confirm the driver was not at fault. Or, in the event of a vehicle theft, the data could be used to find the vehicle or identify the thieves.

Know the legal limitations

The use and monitoring of these devices and accessories is governed by numerous federal and states laws and regulations.

For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration permits them if they do not decrease the safety of the motor vehicles on which they are used, and if they are equipped in accordance with specific requirements set out in the regulations. Among other things, those regulations require that devices must be mounted six inches below the top of the windshield, outside of the area swept by the windshield wiper blades, and outside the driver's sight lines to the road, highway signs and signals.

A majority of states have also enacted laws that govern the use of such devices and accessories. Generally, most states do not permit any device (for surveillance or otherwise) if they obstruct or reduce the driver's view, unless a specific exemption applies. This is important for employers to note because, unlike the older cameras attached at the top of the windshield, the driver performance monitoring devices placed at the bottom of the windshield require an exemption.

States may include additional requirements. For example, in California, a video-recording device is only permitted in a vehicle if it can monitor driver performance to improve safety, and has the capability of recording "audio, video and G-Force levels continuously in a digital loop."

The device must automatically save the video when triggered by an unusual motion or crash, and cannot store more than 30 seconds of video, audio and other data before or after the "triggering event." The device must be outside of the airbag deployment zone and in a seven-inch square in the lower right corner of the windshield, or in a five-inch square in the lower left corner of the windshield.

In addition to the laws directly regulating the use of monitoring devices, the federal government and most state governments have privacy and wiretapping statutes or common laws that restrict or prevent recording an individual's voice and/or image without prior consent.

Because regulations and exemptions vary from state to state, you should consult with counsel before proceeding. Also, consider establishing a written policy to notify your employees of the existence of cameras or other monitoring devices so as to not violate privacy rights.

Make sure you meet any union obligations

At a minimum, notice to employees of the installation and use of such devices would be appropriate and expected by most employees.

However, when a union represents employees in a particular workplace, the employer has a statutory duty not to make unilateral changes in the terms and conditions of employment without bargaining with the union. That duty to bargain may include bargaining with the union about the installation and use of monitoring devices in vehicles, particularly where the monitoring may lead to discipline or discharge of employees.

Have a records retention policy and follow it

You may also have an affirmative duty to preserve all recordings and reports for a certain length of time after a "triggering event." Because a video recording captured by the camera, and any report associated therewith, could be considered discoverable information in litigation and may have to be produced to the complaining party, failure to preserve may result in litigation sanctions.

If you use such devices, you should have a retention policy and follow it. Remember a complaining party potentially could request all preserved recordings and use the evidence to argue that you have a history of employing bad drivers. If you retain information for an extended time, you could end up holding onto evidence that shows a specific driver has a history of accidents or unsafe driving practices, or that you knew or should have known that the driver exhibited risky behavior.


As with most new and developing technologies, there are pros and cons to using them. The purpose of this article is to make employers consider both the risks and gains to their business before installing monitoring devices in vehicles.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

D. Albert Brannen
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.