Is Vehicle Tracking Legal in Australia?

Vehicle Tracking Australia

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Thanks to ever-advancing technology, we can find certain locations with just a few clicks. If you need to find someone, all you have to do is ask them to drop a pin, and you’ll know their exact location in a snap. But can you legally track the locations of your fleet vehicles? The answer is yes – Australian law allows you to track your company vehicles using GPS, but with certain rules and reservations.

You see, while GPS (Global Positioning System) technology has revolutionised and streamlined the way we manage our fleets, it can be used for the wrong reasons. GPS, when used with untoward intentions, can derail your fleet. That’s why most Australian states have clear rules in place about how it can and cannot be used, and it’s critical that companies stick to these in order to keep out of hot water.

Read on to find out how your company can use vehicle tracking, wherever in Australia you’re based.

Is GPS tracking of company vehicles legal?

Okay, so the big question: in Australia, is GPS tracking of company vehicles legal?

The short answer? Yes, it is. As a general rule of thumb, though, you must make sure that everyone who is being tracked is aware that they are, and is given plenty of notice.

To ensure that you're staying on the right side of the law, we'd advise writing up a vehicle tracking policy and sharing it with your drivers. This document should explain:

  • Why you are going to track your vehicles
  • The data you will collect from the vehicles
  • How and when that data will be collected
  • How you plan to use this data to benefit the business
  • How you will safeguard the data
  • The disciplinary consequences for your drivers if they tamper with, disable, or remove a tracker without your permission

Using a fleet management software system helps fleet managers save on costs, optimise routes, and track vehicles and drivers for better efficiency and increased safety.

is gps tracking of company vehicles legal?

What are the rules around GPS vehicle tracking in each state?

Australia being as big as it is, each state has slightly different rules. So, it’s important to read up on the legislation you'll need to comply with in your area.

Note

If you'd like to learn more about vehicle tracking solutions, check out our piece about the best GPS tracking systems available today. And while you’re here, don’t forget to give our free quote comparison tool a quick try. Answer a few questions about your fleet, and we’ll match you up with the best GPS tracking providers for you. They’ll then be in touch with bespoke, no-obligation quotes and answers to your questions. It’s a fast and simple way to compare the best prices from top vehicle tracking providers.

Western Australia

If you’re based in WA, The Surveillance Devices Act 1998 is the document you need to pay most attention to. It’s fairly long, so we’ll summarise; don’t track employees, or an object they have with them (i.e. their car), without their knowledge and consent.

Trying to track a car without permission just isn’t worth the risk. Companies can face a fine of up to $50,000, with directors/directly involved managers facing personal fines of $5,000 and up to 12 months in jail.

Queensland

In Queensland, there isn’t actually any legislation to prevent the tracking of vehicles. That said, it’s always good practice to keep your employees in the loop, as it builds trust and mutual respect.

South Australia

The Surveillance Devices Act 2016 covers the rules around all surveillance types in South Australia. Under this legislation, employers using any tracking devices (including personal GPS trackers, vehicle GPS trackers and devices in smartphones) must have either the expressed or implied consent of the employee(s) they wish to track.

New South Wales

Tracking company vehicles is legal in New South Wales, provided the employer complies with the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005. When it comes to tracking employees, the act states that you must notify the employee at least two weeks before tracking is due to start.

You must notify them in writing (email is fine), and include the following info:

  • What kind of surveillance will be taking place (camera, tracking etc.)
  • How the surveillance will be carried out
  • When the surveillance will start
  • Whether the surveillance will be continuous or intermittent
  • Whether the surveillance will be for a specific time period (to be specified), or if it’ll be ongoing

Employers also need to display a sign within the vehicle itself indicating that it is under tracking surveillance.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory’s policy on vehicle tracking is basically exactly the same as that of New South Wales (see above). The Northern Territory follows the Surveillance Devices Act 2007, which states that installing a tracking device to track someone without their express or implied consent is a crime, with a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Victoria

For Victoria, the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 contains everything you need to know about vehicle tracking. The key takeaway is that it’s illegal to install a tracking device in order to track someone’s whereabouts without their consent. This also includes tracking objects, such as phones or cars.

Consent in this case can be implied or express. Express consent means asking the direct question, while implied consent could mean it’s included within, for example, a job contract.

Australian Capital Territory

In the Australian Capital Territory, the laws around vehicle tracking are pretty similar to those of New South Wales; that’s to say you have to notify the person you’ll be tracking ahead of time, and provide some key details, such as the time when the surveillance will start, what kind of surveillance will be used, and how it will be carried out. Their legislation is the Workplace Privacy Act 2011 (ACT).

Tasmania

There currently isn’t any legislation regarding tracking vehicles in Tasmania. Again, we still maintain that honesty is the best policy!

Is it legal for your employer to track your phone?

Generally speaking, the rules for tracking an employee’s phone using GPS are the same as the vehicle tracking regulations above. Both cover tracking an object (be it a phone or a vehicle) that you can assume will indicate the location of the employee who uses the phone or vehicle, so they are treated similarly.

Person using a smartphone
Although they’re very different objects, the rules for tracking phones and cars are fairly similar

Next steps

Vehicle tracking is more than just locating your vehicles – it can also help you boost your fleet’s efficiency and overall performance. Read our guide for a deeper dive into the benefits of vehicle tracking.

Here are some of the ways you could put your system to good use:

  • Find the fastest routes, and easily allocate the closest person to each job
  • Manage fuel consumption – see how much idling and poor driving technique is costing you in fuel
  • Monitor tire pressure and general vehicle maintenance
  • Protect your assets and vehicles from theft attempts
  • Stay on top of legal requirements, like driver’s work diaries
  • Monitor driver performance and behaviour while on the road

If you want to find out more about vehicle tracking systems, our free quote comparison tool is just a click away. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your fleet, and we’ll link you up with the trusted providers that can best meet your needs. They’ll then get back to you with custom quotes for your fleet – and just like that, you’re one step closer to finding the perfect vehicle tracking solution for your business.

And don’t forget, if you’re ever in doubt about the legalities of your vehicle tracking, your GPS tracking system provider will be able to answer your questions.

Written by:
Julia Watts author headshot photo
Specialising in business software, Julia writes jargon-busting guides about VoIP, fleet management, dash cams, fuel cards, and more. Having spent almost a decade writing for entrepreneurs and reviewing business solutions, she loves helping exciting ventures – big or small – to flourish.