More construction fleets are hitting the road than ever before, and to keep pace with the heightened risk of distracted driving, it is necessary for construction companies and contractors to ensure the safety of themselves, their workers, and the public.
When you think of safety risks for construction workers, it’s natural to first consider the heavy equipment and otherwise dangerous machinery used daily. Believe it or not, vehicle-related incidents have become a leading cause of accidents and serious injury in the construction industry. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported approximately 38,680 fatalities from traffic accidents in 2020, 3,142 of which were due to distracted driving.
To safeguard drivers from danger, construction industry fleet managers are turning to a combination of smart dashcams, telematics, and GPS tracking to gain a holistic, 360-degree view of the driver’s environment and behavior. Video recordings from dashcams can provide evidence of drivers looking at their phones while driving, data captured from telematics can determine the vehicle’s speed and braking patterns, and GPS tracking can reveal if the driver is blowing through stops or deviating from their scheduled route. This visibility helps construction fleet managers decrease the number of accidents through multi-point driver accountability—bolstering road safety for employees, drivers sharing the road, and pedestrians.
PHONES DISTRACT DRIVERS
Distracted driving consists of any activity that diverts attention from safe driving. As the grips of mobile connectivity continue to take hold, drivers often forget that when behind the wheel, they travel at high speeds on busy roadways. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distracted driving is responsible for nearly 60% of teen crashes, and the National Safety Council reported that cellphone use accounted for 27% of all car accidents. That’s not surprising because, at 55 mph, a quick glance to read or send a text diverts attention from the road for five seconds, long enough to travel the length of a football field. Cellphone use behind the wheel increases the risk of a crash by 165%.
Unfortunately, drivers tend to think their behavior on the road isn’t the problem. While 87% of drivers said texting and driving is dangerous, another recent study showed that 70% of drivers admitted to recently using a mobile device while driving.
DISTRACTED DRIVING RISKS
According to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), crashes caused by distracted driving cost employers $18.8 billion in 2018. And it’s not just your drivers you need to be concerned about—you may have a well-behaved, highly conscious fleet that is exposed to the risk of nearby distracted drivers.
Of course, not all distracted driving incidents lead to an accident, but it can still be costly to your operation. A distracted driver might miss a turn or fall behind schedule, impacting fuel usage or customer service. Distracted driving can impact your fleet in several ways:
- Driver injury and cost
- Vehicle damage
- Damaged reputation
- Increased insurance costs
- Expensive lawsuits
DEPLOY TECH & TELEMATICS
Drivers are often tasked with transporting construction materials across many miles and can become weary and bored when on the road. Automated sensors can detect whether the driver who has been behind the wheel for hours is drowsy or distracted. Sensors aren’t only looking at the driver but are also working to detect distance in relation to the next vehicle, monitor seatbelt compliance, and notify fleet managers of stop signal and traffic light violations.
Leveraging real-time data, contractors can be alerted to safety hazards. When used together, fleet management tech solutions establish benchmarks that prevent roadway accidents by monitoring distracted driving, in addition to:
- Speed: According to the NHTSA, more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities were related to speeding.
- Ignoring Red Lights or Stop Signs: This behavior is a significant source of injuries and can lead to much higher insurance rates if one of your drivers is cited.
- Following Distance: Tailgating is one of the most dangerous driving habits and a chief cause of accidents.
DRIVER COACHING PROGRAM
Driver coaching is an extra layer that will help prevent accidents instead of only reacting to them. With the rise of smart dashcams, coaching drivers will be more important than ever. Insurance rates are climbing, and every fleet manager wants to control every cost possible. If your organization doesn’t have a driver safety program, you’re missing an opportunity to reduce costs. And if your driver is at fault in an accident, proving your commitment to fleet safety can show that your organization is trying its best—a benefit when negotiating a settlement.
Here are a few considerations when kickstarting an effective driver coaching program:
- Train Drivers on the Technology: Train drivers on how the technology works from end to end so they can hit the ground running with positive driving behaviors.
- Critical Measurements: Every fleet has unique challenges, but measuring speed, distracted driving, red-light running, and tailgating is consistently most important.
- Set Goals for Improvement: Baseline data help set measurable, achievable goals. Reward safe drivers and give lower-performing drivers a chance to improve through modeling.
- Establish a Coaching Culture: Once your drivers improve, continue their coaching sessions even if they’re performing well.
Through better data and coaching, construction fleet managers can build a culture of safety that prevents distracted driving while improving performance. Incorporating GPS tracking and smart camera technology—paired with consistent driver education and safety coaching—will reduce costs, improve safety, and enhance overall fleet operations.
About the Author:
Ray Kosick has helped GPS Insight customers ensure success with GPS tracking and telematics technology for nearly 14 years. Kosick began in technical support services, migrated to hardware fulfillment, and has served as product manager for the past several years. He is known as the resident expert on telematics devices within GPS Insight. For more, visit www.gpsinsight.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2022
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