MORE than 100 drivers with one of Scotland’s biggest transport firms are to have their every move monitored from space.
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) has bought an 85,000 driver-tracking system that monitors their every movement while behind the wheel in real time.
Using the GPS system, bosses at SPT will be able to see exactly where their drivers are, which bus they are driving, and what speed they are going at – all from a computer screen.
The system tracks individual drivers between vehicles and civil liberties groups today (Mon) branded it as a Big Brother-style infringement of privacy.
But SPT, which carries around 50,000 pupils a day on the
“biggest school run in Scotland’, claims the system will improve safety and efficiency.
The vehicle tracking system manufactured by Manchester-based Crystal Ball will be installed as part of a pilot.
Each driver will be provided with a coded identification key which slots into a dashboard reader in the bus.
A spokeswoman for SPT said:
“Vehicle tracking feeds back live information, recording speed, journey time, distance and location. By purchasing this new equipment, we will be able to monitor our fleet of vehicles more efficiently and effectively. “
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) backed the move.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety, said:
“Providing it is used in a constructive manner, rather than a disciplinary process, it can provide great benefits.
“It helps the employer make sure that its vehicles are being used safely and efficiently and can identify training needs for drivers or other improvements that could be made, such as changing routes or schedules.
“It can very often result in significant fuel savings and promote safety. For buses, it also helps with real-time bus information for passengers. “
Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, said that employers have the right to implement these systems as long as employees are aware of them.
“We have never objected to this kind of thing. We would think it was different if it was provided in cars that we own. But if it’s your employer then they are entitled to know what you are doing. “
But Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch, said employers should be able to trust their workers.
“It’s a fairly sad indictment on what the bus company thinks of its own employees that it feels the need to track their every movement.
“This kind of tracking equipment is designed to be used in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, not on Strathclyde’s bus routes.
“People – including bus drivers – should have the freedom to go about their work without being snooped on and scrutinised at every turn. “
Charles Farrier, of campaign group No CCTV, said:
“It sounds like a ridiculous waste of money to me. They are employed by a company who have to trust their staff. If they have passed their driving test and are able to work then surely they have to trust their drivers.
“It’s a slippery slope and we are slipping down very fast. We have to start trusting people. If we lose trust in each other then that’s when society starts breaking down.
“We are constantly being told that we should submit to this level of surveillance but at some point we have to say no.
“We are human beings, not robots. Technology should be there to help us and not enslave us. “