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Truck Driver Privacy – Technology Gone Too Far?

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, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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3 Responses to Truck Driver Privacy – Technology Gone Too Far?. - Post a Comment

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Allen Smith, Allen Smith and Allen Smith, WomenTruckers. WomenTruckers said: Hey driver. Look who has their eye on you? […]

  2. Bonnie MacPherson

    Maybe I am old fashioned, but I am against all of the electronic ‘safety’ devices, black boxes, electronic logging and any other electronic make-drivers-safer-and-more-accountable crap. I refuse to become slave to machine. What all of this stuff does is tell drivers that they are, as a person, unreliable, untrustworthy and unable to make intellegent decisions. A machine, (or monkey), is better than a person.
    I dislike, intensely, technology that is intended to control people.


  3. john o'rourke


    Are you the same bonnie who worked for Swift a couple of years back as an owner/operator?

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