How can I track my vehicles?

There are good reasons for wanting to track your vehicles

Keeping an eye on your company vehicles makes sense. They are assets you have invested in, and your business depends on them. Vehicle Tracking is a widely used term that covers a range of things that you could do – from knowing where your vehicle is at any time to knowing whether it is about to break down.

Even knowing where your vehicle could be useful for a range of reasons. Understanding where it is at any time could be a basic security issue, or to let you know how your deliveries are going. Understanding more about your vehicles will help you get the best use of them – the best use that will increase your bottom line.

You can find more detail on the benefits of tracking your vehicles – and how it could really help your business here.

You can track your vehicles using well proven technical solutions

Let’s start with the network. If you can’t get the data back quickly to allow you to act on it the value of the data is limited.

With the wide availability of GPRS on 2G in 2000 it became possible to collect data without the need for a wired connection. Breaking free of the wired connection also meant that you could collect data from things that were moving about.

Today GPRS/2G is the most pervasive mobile technology, often available where no other technology can reach. It has therefore become the most widely used network solution to support vehicle tracking solutions.

When you look at the hardware to use on vehicles it has also developed dramatically allowing a rich range of data to be collected and used. From using a GPS/GPNSS module to identify location, to information directly from the vehicles CANBUS on things such as oil pressure, and accelerometers giving information on speed and change in tilt, there are solutions that can meet almost any need you have.

There is more detailed information on how vehicle tracking works. However, there is more to think about than the technical solution.

Tracking your vehicles has wider legal implications to consider

Data privacy is about more than keeping your passwords safe on your laptop. Too many online sources have not been updated and are still referring to the Data Protection Act 1998 for the UK, but things have moved on significantly in the last 5 years.  The 2018 Data Protection Act (DPA 2018) enshrined GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in UK law. The same is true for all member countries in the EU. GDPR was the output from the EC Article 29 Working Party on Data Privacy and built on the EU /UK 2003 Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). GDPR is also increasingly used in other countries either directly to ensure compliance with EU regulations, or as a good model for domestic data privacy legislation.

The legislation is focused on protecting individual’s personal data, and whilst that clearly covers things like passwords and bank account information it has a wider implication. An individual’s location – either current or historic – is seen as sensitive data and that means you need to consider the implications of your vehicle tracking solution for any drivers of your vehicles.

To add to this, other data you could collect with a vehicle tracking solution could also be covered. GDPR/DPA 2018 focuses on protecting the data of an “identifiable individual” and what that means is any data that could be combined to triangulate on a named person. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO), the UK regulator explains this more fully What Personal Data Is.

Brexit hasn’t and won’t change this as the UK legislation is required to continue exchanging data with the EU – something many businesses depend on.

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You need clarity on why you are using vehicle tracking

As we covered above there are many reasons why you might want to track your vehicles. Compliance with GDPR, or domestic legislation that embodies it such as DPA 2018 in the UK, means you need to formally define the reason you are gathering and holding data from your vehicle tracking.

There are 6 defined “lawful” reasons for gathering and using personal data, or “processing” as it is known. The ICO has one of the best explanations of options:

  1. Consent - The individual has given clear consent for you to process their personal data for a specific purpose.
  1. Contract - The processing is necessary for a contract you have with the individual, or because they have asked you to take specific steps before entering into a contract.
  1. Legal obligation - the processing is necessary for you to comply with the law (not including contractual obligations).
  1. Vital interests - the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life.
  1. Public task - the processing is necessary for you to perform a task in the public interest or for your official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law.
  1. Legitimate interests - the processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party, unless there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides those legitimate interests. (This cannot apply if you are a public authority processing data to perform your official tasks.)

Deciding which of the reasons you pick will depend on the needs/purpose of your business, but most businesses will end up relying on Consent from the vehicle driver.

However, there is one important element to consider. Is the vehicle a pool vehicle or does it have nominated drivers? You only need Consent for vehicles that have nominated drivers – pool vehicles that could be driven by any employee do not require it.

Explicit vs hidden trackers

Some companies have more than one tracking mechanism on a vehicle. There may be an explicit one tracking driver behaviour – for example a tachograph – and another hidden one that is used in the event of vehicle theft. Some even have multiple hidden trackers if the vehicle carries valuable cargo relying on different technologies to give resilience and to maximise the chances of rapid recovery.

There is no issue in having multiple trackers in a vehicle, providing their purposes are clear and compliance with the principles we have gone through are maintained. Unlike explicit trackers/tachographs most anti-theft trackers only give a location when triggered, they are not actively tracking the individual driving and constantly collecting data. The only time data is collected is by specific request when the vehicle is lost.

Consent is the most likely lawful basis for tracking your vehicles

Using Consent has an implication for the tracking solution you fit to the vehicle. It may be difficult to show a legitimate reason for tracking a vehicle outside working hours. In that case you will need to enable the employee to turn the tracking solution off outside their work hours.

Next, you will need to provide a document for the driver to sign to show they have given consent. That document should clearly set out the data you will be collecting, the reasons you are collecting it and finally how long the data you collect will be stored for. Even if you don’t have to get consent as you have a pool vehicle arrangement it is good practice to publish the information as a policy document to your employees.

As a part of any consent or policy document you must also advise the driver of their Data Subject Access Rights. This is their ability to review, change and potentially delete any data you hold on them and equally applies to any personal data you hold.

Make sure the tracking data you collect is held securely

We regularly hear about data breaches in the news – usually in connection with hacking. Quite rightly the legislation covers data breaches as it represents a major data privacy risk. However, a data breach is not simply seen as being the result of hacking, it also covers the loss of data through hardware failure, or even corruption of the data. It is all about data loss, irrespective of reasons. The ICO provide very good guidance on both data breaches and how they need to be managed if you are unlucky enough to have one.

Don’t forget to register with the ICO

If you are collecting, holding, and managing the personal data of your employees you may already be registered with the ICO. But if setting up vehicle tracking is the first time you are doing that then you will need to register with the ICO. It isn’t onerous, but is a key part of being compliant and you can find some details to help here.

We’re not lawyers and this article shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. If you are planning on tracking your vehicles, we strongly suggest that you consult with a law firm that has expertise in the current data privacy regulations.