View source: Curt Bennink

Telematics, video and communication apps can help ensure safety of drivers for your construction fleet.

It’s hard to dispute the return on investment from many of the recent technologies being implemented to monitor driver behavior and protect your construction business from unwarranted claims. The payback can often be measured in mere months.

But the rapid evolution of technologies designed to protect drivers in a company fleet means many are still in their infancy. The adoption of these technologies will depend on a series of factors.

“In technology there’s a triangle,” says Keith Schneider, president and CEO, GPS Trackit. “Three things have to happen — cost needs to come down, the value to the customer needs to be very high and it has to be easy to use. If those three things don’t align, you are in the early adopter stage and you’re living at a 20% market penetration. When that triangle aligns, you’ll see penetration go from 20% to 60%.”

Telematics video technology is an area that is currently witnessing rapid adoption. “In video, we are just entering those pieces aligning,” says Schneider. “Costs are coming down, value is getting very high and the ease of use is getting much better. The data rates are actually coming down, also. So, the stage has been set for that adoption to go from the 20% to 25% range now to over 60% over the next couple of years.”

Distracted Driving Tops The List 

Distracted driving tops the list of dangerous activities on roads and on the jobsite, as well.

“Mobile devices have done so much for us in terms of their ability to help us get things done,” says Joseph Boyle, CEO, TRUCE Software. “There’s a tremendous amount of promise that comes from having all of your workers deployed with mobile technology, but the reality is they’ve caused us to behave much differently than we did 10 years ago.

“We live in a society where if you don’t respond almost instantaneously to a text or a message, or even a social media post, it’s to the point of almost being considered rude. We’ve been reconditioned to think about phone or device first and everything else second, third or maybe even fourth,” he points out. “While the devices can help us a lot, they’re leading to some very unfortunate unintended consequences. For example, 40% of commercial driving accidents are being caused by device distraction.”

Software technology can provide a flexible solution to maximize mobile technology benefits while limiting distractions. “The TRUCE platform is all about how you enable those devices for your workers so that you can get the benefits you are looking for but control the acceptable use policies so that you don’t have the accidents, you don’t have the distraction,” says Boyle. “Everything is situational. What is acceptable for a person to do with a device when standing in an office is different from what is acceptable when operating a piece of heavy equipment or driving a vehicle.”

To address this, companies often try to implement one-size-fits-all policies. This doesn’t work since workers just carry two devices. “The answer is really about having a very flexible solution that allows you to understand, define and enforce the different use policies for different environments,” says Boyle. “Those policies tend to get stricter when you get into high-risk environments. TRUCE is comprised of a mobile app that helps companies enforce their policies at the right time by automatically adjusting employee access to apps and functions based on where they are and what they are doing.

“For example, our customers who are deploying in vehicle environments will say, ‘We don’t want you using your phone at all, except you can make and receive phone calls as long as you’re connected to hands-free’,’” he notes. “‘You can use turn-by-turn directions as long as you are not typing in the address while you are driving. And you can listen to your music and podcasts.’”

TRUCE software limits the use of phone apps and features based on the specific employee environment. “You define those policies in our application and we bring them to life,” says Boyle. “Those policies are 100% enforced. If you say the employees cannot do something in a certain environment, you’re not relying on their good will not to do it. The phone will not access those capabilities that you have said are out of bounds.”

This approach produces immediate results. “Our customers typically see between a 30% to 40% reduction in accidents, and it happens right away,” Boyle states. “We go after the root cause of the issue, which is we are addicted to our devices. We stare at them constantly, most of the time not even realizing that we are doing it.”

It is all about removing technology distractions. “If all of a sudden people just can’t access those things on their phone, you change the environment,” says Boyle. “The behavior then changes. They put the phone in the cradle or they leave it in their pocket because they know they cannot chat, they cannot text. The accidents fall off right away.”