It’s a technology that’s changed the lives of fleet managers and private investigators alike. But when it comes to tracking vehicles in Canada, exactly what is legal and what definitely is not?
We’ve summarized the Canadian laws on tracking vehicles in both a domestic and commercial context.
Domestic Use: Vehicle Tracking Laws
What do we mean by domestic vehicle tracking? When we talk about domestic vehicle tracking, we basically mean tracking vehicles outside of a commercial purpose. Typically this means tracking your partner or child, or just your vehicle in general in case of theft.
But when is this legal, and when is it very much not?
When is Domestic Vehicle Tracking Legal?
In Canada, if you are the owner of the vehicle you are tracking, it’s generally legal – whether the person driving knows about it or not. Many people choose to get a vehicle tracker in case of theft – clearly this wouldn’t work so well if they had to tell the thief they were being tracked!
When is Domestic Vehicle Tracking Illegal?
If you have joint ownership of the car you want to track, the law is unclear. It’s best that you avoid tracking a co-owned vehicle altogether, unless every owner is in agreement and consents to the tracking. If you don’t own the vehicle you’re trying to track, it’s almost definitely illegal.
Commercial Use: Vehicle Tracking Laws
Vehicle tracking for businesses has become really popular in recent years. It makes a company more efficient, and safer too.
But when is it legal, and when is it illegal?
When is Commercial Vehicle Tracking Legal?
Businesses are allowed to use GPS vehicle tracking in order to manage workforce productivity and safety, and to improve customer experience.
Generally, fleet tracking systems only track data that can help you with these goals, and so the act of installing and using a fleet tracking and management system is not going to get you into legal hot water.
The key here is in how and when you use the system. Here are a few rules of thumb to live by:
- Inform your drivers that you are going to track their vehicles. This is a win-win: you can't be accused of covert spying, and your drivers – knowing their driving behavior is recorded – will be more likely to drive safely and efficiently. It's fine to use covert trackers (those that are installed in such a way that they're hidden from the view of anyone in the vehicle), as long as your drivers know they are there.
- Never track any vehicles outside of work hours. If your drivers use their vehicles for both work and personal journeys, make sure that you don't track these personal journeys, or you'll risk invading your employees' privacy. Find a tracking system that can be remotely disabled by you, automatically disabled as working hours end, or turned off by your drivers when they clock off.
- Keep the data that you collect from your system safe. Ensure that it's only used for work purposes, and only give access to those who have a legitimate business or safety reason to see and handle the data.
If you’re unsure, you can speak to your fleet management system provider, which will be happy to advise you further.
You should also write up a vehicle tracking policy and share it with your staff, to ensure total transparency and understanding between you and your drivers. The policy should include:
- 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
▶ Read more: Best GPS trackers for cars or Best Vehicle Trackers for Trucks
When is Commercial Vehicle Tracking Illegal?
Again, this is quite uncertain territory. If the reason you’re tracking a vehicle could not be classed as ‘improving safety, productivity or customer experience’, then you may be on shaky ground.
Either way, having a comprehensive policy surrounding your business’ usage of vehicle tracking is a surefire way to get everyone on the same page, and avoid any confusion. And again, if you want to get vehicle tracking for your business but aren’t sure on the rules, just speak to your fleet tracking provider and they’ll be able to advise you.
Why Track Vehicles Commercially?
There’s a reason that vehicle tracking has massively increased in popularity in recent years. It’s a great way for businesses to become more efficient, and it’s really affordable, too.
Here’s some of the ways vehicle tracking could help your business:
- Help employees find the fastest routes, and easily allocate the closest person to each job
- Manage fuel consumption
- Monitor tire pressure and maintenance
…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Keen to know more? Check out our guide to GPS tracking and its benefits.
If you’re interested in getting vehicle tracking devices for your business, you’ve come to the right place. Simply fill in this short form to be matched with the best Canadian suppliers local to you. In the meantime, check out our roundup of the cheapest GPS solutions in Canada, or read up on how much fleet management is likely to cost.
Please note that some of these laws are both subjective and complex, so if you have any doubts, it’s best to check with a legal professional. They can also vary slightly from province to province. If your question relates to commercial vehicle tracking, a business vehicle tracking provider should also be able to help.