Tech continues to evolve throughout the years, and it is transforming the construction industry along with it. Telematics is one such innovation that brings together several technologies to monitor vehicles, equipment, and other assets. These cutting-edge systems are proving to be a powerful ally in addressing the critical issue of distracted driving in construction, ensuring not only the safety of construction workers but also the efficiency and success of projects.
Distractions for Construction Drivers
The statistics surrounding distracted driving are worrisome. It is the leading cause of accidents on the road, accounting for 20% of all driving-related injuries including death. There were 46,020 motor vehicle deaths in 2020 alone.
The causes of distraction on the road for construction workers are much the same as every other driver. However, they are often driving larger vehicles with tight deadlines, longer trips, and more dangerous cargo. Distractions can be auditory, visual, cognitive, or manual. Some of the most common driving distractions include:
Eating and drinking;
- Smoking and vaping;
- Reading directions;
- Reaching for items in the passenger or back seat;
- Using a vehicle’s electronic interface.
The 2023 Traveler’s Risk Index also identifies the following as the top reasons for distracted driving:
- Making or receiving calls;
- Using handheld devices;
- Posting on social media;
- Taking photos or videos;
- Emotional distress;
- Work-related stress.
Construction drivers often have long hauls ahead of them, leading to drowsy, unsafe driving. Many of the other distractions involve tech devices, such as mobile phones or tablets. While technology is hindering drivers’ safety in this sense, telematics can provide valuable insights and resources to combat this issue. It’s imperative to improve driving behaviors in the construction industry to lessen the impact of distraction-related accidents, protecting construction workers and everyone on the road around them.
Telematics and Safety
Telematics plays a crucial role in enhancing driver safety through improved behavior. When implemented in construction vehicles, companies and the drivers, themselves, have instantaneous and historical data regarding their driving. This allows for real-time and post-shipment driver training based on actual events, tailoring the education directly to the driver.
Monitoring Driving Behavior
Telematics setups in construction vehicles typically involve the following methods of monitoring:
- GPS trackers to track speed and location;
- Accelerometers to track acceleration and braking;
- OBD II connections to monitor onboard diagnostics;
- In-cab and external cameras to monitor the driver and the road.
The type of cameras may vary, but they are often 360-degree cameras or at least offer several vantage points that give construction companies a live feed and recording of happenings on the road. This system of interconnected tech allows drivers to be monitored for adverse behaviors or scenarios, even alerting them of imminent danger. Construction companies can also consult footage to determine the exact whereabouts, movements, and behaviors of a driver in the event of an accident or other incident, such as theft or misuse of company vehicles.
Offering Real-Time Feedback to Drivers
Construction drivers can also benefit from feedback during their routes. Telematics driving apps can connect with the systems rigged inside the vehicles to alert drivers in real-time. This promotes safe vehicle operation by incentivizing drivers to perform their best — and helping them when something is going awry. This can be anything from a vehicle malfunction to a wake-up alert if the driver is nodding off at the wheel. This can be the difference between a life-altering accident and a mere scare.
Providing Data-Driven Insights to Construction Companies
All of these systems collect data on construction drivers that their companies can use to benefit their fleets. Driver training can be based on actual occurrences recorded in-vehicle, such as risky braking habits or instances of texting while driving. This isn’t in an attempt to punish the construction drivers. Rather, it’s to help keep them safe.
These data points are invaluable when determining what companies can do to enhance the safety of construction drivers and those around them. Moving forward, they can analyze the efficacy of training and implementation. Telematics is likely to evolve in the future, as well, so construction companies can look forward to enhanced insights to stay safe on the road for years to come.