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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Truck Driver Privacy – Technology Gone Too Far?

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Dash Mounted Lens Recorder with Panic Button Dash Mounted Lens Recorder with Panic Button

One thing that is for certain, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to stay up with technology.  You can purchase the newest craze in the tech world, only to find several months later that your new toy has now become second-hand news.  Technology continues to push forward stronger and faster with each passing day and the trucking industry is seeing its share of the oncoming future.  No doubt, that many devices offer much more security and safety for truck drivers and companies alike, but could there prove to be trouble down the road where some may believe that their privacy is being invaded?

It could be a catch 22 between truck drivers and the motor carriers.  The carrier is held liable for the responsibility of the freight on-board, yet the 18-wheeler is the trucker’s home away from home.  The motor carrier has the right to know where their equipment and product are at all times, but doesn’t the driver have the right to personal privacy, especially during their ten hour break?

The above photo shows an installed lens recorder with a driver panic button.  In the case of an emergency or life threatening situation, the driver can push the panic button which sends a signal to the designated authorities for immediate response.  With the ever increasing crime against motor carrier freight and the professional truck driver, it is a great idea and one that increases the boundaries for driver safety.

Fingerprint Recognition Device Fingerprint Recognition Device

With billions of dollars of freight moving across the country on any given day, motor carriers have a lot to lose should it fall in the wrong hands.  Furthermore, the carrier has the right to know who is in the driver’s seat, operating their equipment that is worth thousands of dollars.  Technology is making this an easier task for carriers as well.

This is a photo of a fingerprint recognition device.  When placed over another installed device, the driver places their thumb on the other side of this device and their fingerprint is read and the data is sent directly to the motor carrier, informing them of who exactly is starting up the truck and about to drive away; another great idea for safety and identification purposes.

Certainly, technology can be on our side for further increasing safety for our nation’s truck drivers and motor carriers.  The truck driver panic button and the fingerprint recognition device are just two examples of computer chips making their way into the cabs of the professional trucker.  These biometric access control products will become more of a way of life for the trucking industry.  Most truck drivers will have no problem with such devices that offer more security and safety, but one, a small lens recorder device could have some drivers wondering about their right to privacy.

Lens device with snap-shot photo capability Lens device with snap-shot photo capability

Although technology has not gone so far as to providing a way for motor carriers to digitally record every movement of the driver by way of a mobile web cam, this recordable device does have the capability to catch images from both outside and inside of the cab.  At random, the motor carrier can send a signal to this lens recorder device which would then take snap-shot photos.  It can also be used to provide photo evidence in the case of an accident, for example.

Should a driver have an accident, the signal can be sent which would allow this device to “back up” and retake photos from, for example, ninety seconds before the accident occurred, offering unsubstantiated proof of who was at fault;  another great idea.

However, where does the privacy for the truck driver come in to play?  At what time will random snap-shots be taken?  When the female driver is getting ready for bed?  When the male driver is getting dressed?  Who knows?  Who exactly will be on the other end of controlling the device and deciding when to send the signal?

I am no expert on these types of devices or technology. Those who are, are welcome to shed some light on this concern for truck driver privacy. How can the driver be certain that there will be no random images taken during their time of privacy? I can see this becoming an issue regarding the rights of employees.

© 2010, AskTheTrucker. All rights reserved.

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