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How to Create a Dash Cam Policy

If you are looking into adding dash cams to your fleet, having a company dash cam policy in place will go a long way in ensuring the roll-out goes smoothly. Not only does it communicate how your company will use the footage, but it also gives the use of dash cams legitimacy.

In addition, many governments and commercial fleets don’t have dash cam policies, even though they are employing the technology. This opens the door for drivers to make the case that since the policy isn’t included in the driver policies, their use is not allowed.

Organizations that do have policy manuals cover things like speeding, personal use, and how to take a break but not dash cams. Few of these driver manuals cover the state of logistics technology in 2021. Adding a dash cam policy to existing manuals helps drivers understand how dash cam data can protect them and paves the way from new technology in the coming years.

Key Components of a Dash Cam Policy

Since the lack of a dash cam policy is an impediment to fully adopting important safety technology, it is critical to create or update driver manuals. Here is a rough outline that may be used as a dash cam policy template.

Keep in mind that these are just suggestions, and every company is different. Consult legal professionals and leadership when developing or updating your policies.

Set the Scope of Your Dash Cam Policy

One of the biggest concerns drivers have about dash cams is how the data gathered will be used. Settle these concerns upfront by describing how your organization will use or uses dash cams. Fleets that prioritize maintaining a safety culture rarely use dash cam data for disciplinary actions. Instead, they use them as proactive training tools.

Clearly detail your business’s goals for implementing dash cams in your policy documents.

Outline Key Principles of Your Dash Cam Policy

Transparency is key to employee acceptance. Provide a clear outline of things such as:

  • Which fleet vehicles will have dash cams installed.
  • How the footage will be stored and if all drivers will be informed.
  • Policies for restricting driver access to footage.
  • How long the footage will be stored.
  • If the dash cam provides constant live streams and how they are activated.
  • Steps your business will take if footage reveals inappropriate conduct.

Cover Who Can Access the Footage

No one wants their coworkers to access their information without authorization. Make sure your drivers feel safe by detailing clear rules and guidelines on who can access their dash cam footage. It’s also a good idea to consider people, either drivers or customers, whose images are recorded and their privilege to see the footage.

Cover How Your Fleet Will Use the Dash Cam Footage

Most fleets use dash cams to protect their property, protect their drivers, train drivers, and provide evidence if there is an accident. While many fleets don’t generally use dash cam footage for disciplinary action, there may be instances where this is the case.

Be clear about what these instances are, how long you’ll keep the footage, and how they can access and respond to the dash cam footage. It’s also possible that dash cams can exonerate drivers, so it’s important to let your drivers access the footage.

This policy should cover all dash cam footage, whether event-triggered or driver-triggered. As drivers become familiar with how the dash cam works, they can use the auto-recorded footage as evidence of their side of the story in accidents and customer disputes.

Clearly Detail Third-Party Review

If one of your drivers gets into an accident, there’s a very good chance the dash cam footage can be used as legal evidence. Explain how legal discovery works in your dash cam company policy. In addition, let third parties know that there may be some circumstances where dash cam footage will also be available to insurance companies, legal representatives, and the police.

Complaints, Suggestions, and Discussion

As careful as you are to cover every aspect and eventuality of using dash cams, you’re likely to come upon a situation you didn’t expect. Your dash cam policy should be a living document. This means taking into consideration feedback from your employees.

Designate someone as point person for suggestions and complaints and provide their contact information in the manual.

Record Employees' Acknowledgement of the Policy

It’s critical to have a record that demonstrates employees have reviewed and acknowledged your company dash cam policy. Record their name, date, and signature in writing, and keep the information in your records. This helps lower the risk of misunderstandings if there is an accident or disciplinary action is required.

Consider Creating a Rewards System

Many fleets use dash cams, especially the newer, more sophisticated AI ones, to train their drivers. And some use the data gathered by these dash cams to create a rewards system. Safer driving can be rewarded with time off, gift cards, or other bonuses. Including this into your policy can encourage drivers to accept dash cams more easily.

Future-Proof Your Dash Cam Policy

So many advances have occurred in the past twenty years. No fleet manager could predict that AI-equipped dash cams would become commonplace in fleet vehicles. And so, it is difficult to predict or even imagine what technology will be in use in 2040. But what we do know, is that there will be advances and changes.

For this reason, future-proof your driver policy by making sure it is easy to change. You’ll want to be able to remove any outdated technology and add emerging technology as it is developed. This way, you can quickly adopt technology and equipment that will make your fleet more efficient and safer.

Dash Cam Laws by State

As dash cams become increasingly ubiquitous in US fleets, fleet owners and managers need to understand the laws and regulations that cover them. Dash cams are powerful tools that protect fleet owners and drivers. However, if used illegally, they can unintentionally cause issues.

Dash cam laws are divided into three categories. Surveillance regulations that affect drivers and visibility obstruction that can get fleet owners into trouble. And then there are the California dash cam laws. Once we’ve covered these laws, we’ll touch on who can use dash cam footage for accident insurance claims.

Dash Cam Surveillance Regulations by State

Most dash cams have a feature that may cause legal issues for fleets: recording audio inside a fleet vehicle’s cab. In some states, recording audio without consent can cause legal trouble for drivers.

The majority of states have laws that allow people to audio record conversations i one person in the conversation consents. This means anyone can record their conversation whether or not they let the other person know.

In twelve states, it is illegal to record a conversation if all the people involved in the conversation don’t consent.

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

The consequences for recording a dash cam conversation without consent in these states range from fines to jail time, depending on the situation. These illegal recordings cannot be used in court.

Since fleet drivers often travel from state to state, you should ensure that your drivers know the surveillance regulations in the states on their route and how they apply to dash cams. Make sure they know that they are required to get consent before recording dash cam conversations in the cab in the states on the list above. Another option is to turn off the dash cam’s microphone.

Also, fleet drivers should know that although it is legal to record people in public, capturing dash cam video of private residences may be considered an illegal invasion of privacy, depending on the circumstances.

Dash Cam View Obstruction Laws by State

Be careful where dash cams are mounted on fleet vehicles. Not all US states allow them to be mounted on the windshield of a vehicle. It is legal to mount a dash cam on a vehicle’s windshield in the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont

Additional states allow windshield-mounted dash cams, with some exceptions. This includes:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wisconsin

These laws are enacted to ensure that drivers can clearly see the road. If the driver’s view of the road is obstructed, the risk of accidents increases.

However, these laws don’t ban the use of dash cams or make them illegal. As long as the dash cams don’t obstruct the drivers' view of the road, they can be used. However, the definition of obstructing the road varies state by state, so you’ll need to be aware of all the laws in the states your vehicles are traveling through.

Many fleets mount their dash cams on their vehicles’ dashes since this placement doesn’t block the driver’s view of the road. However, this placement doesn’t offer the best view of the road.

Take the time to check with the different state jurisdictions to see what dash cam laws apply to your fleet vehicles and drivers before you mount one. Keep in mind that these laws are different from state to state. Legal dash cam placement in one state or jurisdiction may be different in another.

California Dash Cam Laws Examined

Prior to 2011, it was illegal in California to mount a dash cam on a private vehicle. However, California passed laws that clarified where dash cams could be mounted. These laws also covered the requirements of letting people know when they were being recorded.

It is now legal to install a dash cam in fleet vehicles in California, but there are a few limitations, such as:

  • The dash cam has to be mounted in a place that doesn’t block the vehicle’s airbags from deploying if there is an accident.
  • The dash cam can’t be bigger than seven square inches if it is placed in the lower right-hand corner of the fleet vehicle’s windshield.
  • The dash cam can’t be bigger than five square inches if it is placed in the upper center of the windshield.

And, as mentioned above, California requires everyone inside the cab to consent to being recorded in order for the recording to be considered legal. Fleet drivers in California should notify anyone in their cab when they are being recorded.

Who Can Use Dash Cab Footage?

We’ve touched on who can use dash cam footage, but it requires some more attention. As a fleet manager, you should understand that if one of your fleet drivers has an accident and is taken to either civil or criminal court, the driver’s dash cam video and audio can be used as evidence by either party involved in the accident. In any jurisdiction in the US, including state and federal courts, audio and video recordings captured by the dash cams would most likely be discoverable information in litigation. It would have to be turned over to the complaining party.

In addition, the law may mandate that businesses preserve audio and video recordings and reports for a specified period of time after the accident or other triggering event. Fleets that do not comply with these regulations run the risk of being subject to legal action.

Are Dash Cams Legal in All States?

While the simple, straightforward answer to whether or not dash cams are legal is yes, there are different laws in different states, as well as at the local and regional level, making the issues complex. Since 39 states have regulations that say yes, and 11 have no regulations at all, the answer is yes. However, fleet managers must carefully cover their legal bases when using dash cams in their fleet vehicles.

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