May 19, 2016

SPRINGFIELD (May 19)—SMART-TD’s initiative to provide some privacy protections for members being transported in contract carrier vehicles has now passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly and will once again go to the Governor for his signature.

Senate Bill 629 passed the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously last week after passing the Illinois Senate in April. The strong bi-partisan support is an indication of the common-sense nature of the bill and the basic protections it will provide.

“Our efforts this year, like last year, were to statutorily protect our members’ privacy when being transported in the course of their employment in contract carrier vehicles equipped with video-event recorders,” said SMART-TD Illinois State Legislative Director Robert W. Guy.

“The proliferation of these VER’s demanded that we seek to protect our members while in non-railroad owned vehicles,” Guy said. “Much like we do with minimum insurance coverage and safety inspections for those same private vehicles.”

“We know that over-zealous managers shouldn’t have unfettered access to the data recorded by these VER’s,” Guy said. “SB 629 addresses that while recognizing the responsible usage of such equipment to correct risky and dangerous driving.”

Once signed by the Governor, SB 629 would mandate that any contract carrier vehicle equipped with an operational video-event recorder would have to have a visible notice in the vehicle that alerts passengers to the possibility that a conversation might be recorded or that a recording device is in use.

“The notice is meant to serve as a reminder to our members to act professionally while being transported in these vehicles,” Guy said, “and to abide by all the normal rules of the road that comes with being a passenger.”

Additionally, SB 629 would mandate that any data recorded by a video-event recorder shall be the sole property of the registered owner or lessee of the vehicle.

“This would eliminate any cozy relationship that might exist among a railroad manager and the driver of a contract carrier vehicle,” Guy said. “This portion of the bill helps if aggressive managers try to gain access to those recordings.”

Since SB 629 represents the language that was left after the Governor vetoed SB 1834 last year, there shouldn’t be any issues regarding the Governor signing the bill into law.

Updates will come when the Governor acts on SB 629 and when the requirements of SB 629 become effective.