DriveWise driving school installs video cameras inside all of their vehicles

DriveWise driving school installs video cameras inside all of their vehicles

A driving school on Vancouver Island has installed video cameras inside all of its vehicles in the wake of recent sexual assault allegations against the owner of a different driving school.

DriveWise BC announced Wednesday that all of their vehicles on Vancouver Island now have cameras inside them as well as a fleet management system.

The new in-vehicle cameras — currently in use at all locations on Vancouver Island and will be in use at all other DriveWise BC locations in the near future — record the student driver and the instructor as well as the vehicle’s surroundings all while blurring licence plates and the faces of people outside of the vehicle.

“The cameras are very small, they are not in anybody’s way,” Kate Harris, owner, DriveWise BC, told CHEK News on Wednesday. “They automatically record the instructor and the student inside the vehicle.”

DriveWise’s decision to install the cameras comes after a wave of sexual assault allegations and accusations of inappropriate behaviour were levelled against Victoria driving instructor Steve Wallace, who owns Wallace Driving School.

“It just gave us an idea that we need to review our policies and procedures and we did come to the conclusion that we did provide a very safe environment but we could go above and beyond by adding the video surveillance,” said Harris, adding that the cameras provide increased transparency in an “already safe” environment.

ICBC has suspended Wallace’s driving instructor licence and police have recommended Crown charge him with three counts of sexual assault. However, despite initial local media reports, Wallace has not been arrested.

“We stand behind the women who are coming forward — their bravery to come forward — and we are doing what we can here at DriveWise to make sure that students feel safe in all of our driving lessons,” said Harris.

DriveWise instructors have given their consent to having cameras inside the vehicles while students provide consent when they enter the vehicle. Harris said the cost to install the cameras was enormous for the company but will be worth it.

“The video cameras came from some concerns about safety protocols in the driver training industry and we felt we needed to do something beyond what we already had in place and the cameras do just that,” said Harris.

Dashcams can be used by driving schools in British Columbia but only if they obtain consent from the individuals who will be captured on camera — the province’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) requires organizations to give such notice.

“Internal dashcams may be compliant with PIPA if all individuals consent to their use prior to the collection of their personal information via video surveillance,” Michelle Mitchell, a senior communications manager with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC), told CHEK News an e-mailed statement.

Such measures include written consent from the student for the recording and electronic collection of their personal lesson data, written consent from the student for any other use of their personal data, such as in an instructional video or a testimonial. Furthermore, cameras must have a clearly visible indicator showing when a recording system is active.

Driving schools that don’t follow these guidelines can be investigated by OIPC, but only if someone files a complaint.

“When a complaint comes into our office, one of our investigators would attempt to mediate that complaint, and if mediation is not possible, the issue may be referred to our adjudication team who would then write a legally binding order on the issue,” said Mitchell.

Editor’s note: None of the accusations against Wallace have been proven in a court of law.

RELATED: ICBC suspends Steve Wallace’s driving instructor licence as police recommend sexual assault charges

Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod
Tahmina AzizTahmina Aziz

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!