August 5, 2016

SPRINGFIELD (August 5)—It took over a year and a half of legislative maneuvering but SMART-TD’s SB 629 was signed by the Governor on Friday, July 29th.

The Governor’s signature came just days after the Illinois Legislative Breakout session at the 2016 SMART-TD Chicago Regional Meeting, where the bill was once again reviewed for those in attendance.

SB 629 will provide common sense, basic privacy protections for railroaders being transported in private contract carrier vehicles that are equipped with video-event recorders.

“Our members have become very concerned about their privacy over the last few years as these video-event recorders have become more commonplace in these vehicles,” said SMART-TD Illinois State Director Robert W. Guy.

“This was definitely an issue that mushroomed up from our local members,” Guy said. “With the proliferation of these VER’s the Local Legislative Representatives did a great job of taking those concerns and documenting the devices in the vehicles, that made for some very compelling evidence when visiting with lawmakers.”

“While the presence of the VER’s could prove beneficial to our members should they be involved in an incident or accident while in the contract carrier vehicle,” Guy said. “There still remains a need to provide basic privacy protections for our members who are transported in these non-railroad owned vehicles as a condition of their employment.”

“The legislation also should end any ‘cozy’ relationship a local railroad manager has with a contract carrier driver,” Guy said. “These devices are meant to identify and correct risky driving habits, not be tools for local managers to ‘trap’ railroad employees or to invade their basic privacy and rights.”

SB 629, as Public Act 99-0689, goes into effect on January 1, 2017.

SB 629 provides our members with basic privacy rights by requiring contract carrier vehicles carrying passengers that are equipped with a video-event recorder to have a notice posted in a visible location that states that a passenger’s conversation could be recorded.

“This notice will serve as a reminder to our members that a recording device could be in use,” Guy said. “This reminder serves as a notice to our members to abide by all of the normal rules of the road and to act professionally while being transported in the vehicle.”

Additionally, and more importantly, SB 629 mandates that any data recorded by a video-event recorder shall be the sole property of the registered owner or lessee of the contract carrier vehicle.

“Again, that recorded data is meant for the contract carrier’s company use,” Guy said. “It’s not meant to be used against a railroad employee who has blown off some steam after a rough trip.”

“If there is an incident or accident, both rail carriers and rail labor will have the ability to obtain recorded date through court orders,” Guy said. “But neither side, especially rail carriers, should have unfettered access to the audio or video images provided by these privately owned VER’s, and that’s what we accomplished with SB 629.”

Once again, SB 629 will take effect on 1/1/17, which means any contract carrier vehicle equipped with an operating video-event recorder is required to have a notice posted in a visible location that a passenger’s conversation be recorded.