Driving instructors

The driving school installs cameras to ensure safety during lessons

A local driving school has installed cameras in all of its vehicles following allegations of sexual assault against the owner of another driving school. DriveWise BC

A local driving school has installed cameras in all of its vehicles following allegations of sexual assault against the owner of another driving school.

DriveWise BC has installed cameras in its 21 cars at a cost of about $60 per car per month, company owner Kate Harris said.

“It’s no surprise that we’ve recently received many questions from parents and students about how we can keep our driving lessons safe,” Harris said.

“We wanted to review our security policies and protocols, and we were quite confident that we had a safe learning environment. But we thought we could go beyond that, add the cameras as an extra layer of protection to give ourselves, our students and their families the assurance that we heard them and that we take what they say seriously.

Driving instructor Steve Wallace has promised to appear in provincial court next month on three counts of alleged sexual assault. One of the alleged sexual assaults dates from 2011, the other two from 2021.

ICBC permanently revoked Wallace’s driving instructor license.

Harris said it has been a very difficult few weeks for his driving school and staff since the allegations came to light.

“Like the rest of the community, we have been grappling with shock and concern for these women who have come forward,” she said.

The company, which has been around for nearly 50 years, did not expect to have to take such drastic action, she said. “But we did it and we’re pretty happy with how it’s working.”

Customers are also very happy, Harris said, and a number of student drivers left other driving schools when they heard about the video cameras. “They want this,” she said.

DriveWise instructors support the move and have given formal consent to the use of cameras during their lessons. Students provide consent when registering for DriveWise BC

“We surveyed nearly 200 students to ask if they would choose to record their lectures and all but one said yes,” Harris said.

The new cameras record the learner driver and the instructor inside the vehicle, and what is happening outside. However, the company paid more for a system that protects the privacy of other drivers and the public by blurring license plates and faces, Harris said.

Recordings will be retained for 100 hours and will only be reviewed in the event of a driving incident or complaint.

Mark Anderson, the owner of West Coast Driver Training, said he could consider dash cams, but has so far installed dash cams which include an audio recording of what’s going on inside the car. vehicle.

“The whole lesson is on audio recording.”

He hopes the dashcams will help deal with road rage incidents involving his fleet.

Anderson said he took it upon himself to add dash cams despite being told he could breach privacy rules.

In British Columbia, commercial organizations are subject to the province’s Personal Information and Protection Act, which regulates the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. Dashcam videos of people inside a car or walking on the sidewalk can, with some exceptions, only be collected with their prior consent.

The use of external dash cams by driving schools likely requires the express consent of everyone who will be captured by the cameras, said Michelle Mitchell, senior communications officer at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. of privacy, in a press release sent by e-mail.

Blurring technology is one step towards solving the privacy issues of outward-facing dash cams, but they may not be the complete answer due to a number of circumstances, she said. declared.

Internal dash cams can be legal if everyone consents, in writing, to their use in advance.

Written policies should be clearly communicated to the student regarding the purposes for capturing, using, and storing their personal information, as well as how records will be stored and when they will be deleted. Students should be able to tell when the camera is on.

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