Key Fleet Metrics to Measure Driver Behavior
By Tony Douglas, Construction Executive
Reposted with permission from constructionexec.com, May 14, 2018, all rights reserved. Copyright 2018.
According to the 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 970 construction worker fatalities in 2016, up from 924 fatalities in 2015. Almost 25 percent of these were related to transportation hazards.
What does this mean for construction executives? Certainly, a life-altering injury or fatality is the most devastating outcome of a crash. There’s also a steep financial toll on employers. The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) estimates that on-the-job highway crashes cost employers $24,000 per crash, $45,000 per million vehicle-miles of travel and $68,000 per injury.
Because many construction companies and contractors are self-insured, on-the-job crashes can be financially devastating.
A PRIMER ON TELEMATICS
How can telematics help? Think of a telematics device like the “black box,” or data flight recorder, on an airplane. Vehicles have a diagnostic port, to which a telematics device may be attached. In real time and using GPS and accelerometer technology, the device collects and records metrics such as:
- harsh and hard braking and steering events;
- GPS location;
- fuel usage;
- estimated time of arrival;
- idle times;
- hours of service;
- personal or after-hours vehicle usage; and
- general engine diagnostics, which can be used for maintenance purposes.
Managers can use telematics to track the number of on-the-job accidents, injuries and roadway fatalities that involve their fleet, as well as all of the associated costs of repairs, property damage, vehicle replacement, lost productivity and any medical or legal costs that often follow an on-the-job crash.
Many variables on a jobsite require a driver’s attention. On-road vehicle drivers are tasked with maneuvering heavy and unwieldy trucks on residential roads. Off-road equipment and machinery operators have blind spots and other challenges that pull their attention away from the basic function of driving.
Fleet metrics — combined with feedback from foremen and operators in the field — are a way for managers to get the big picture of what is going on with a fleet or a particular jobsite. Without this technology, foremen have to rely on what they witness themselves or what their drivers and operators tell them.
By monitoring and measuring individual driver behavior with a fleet’s on-roa and off-road vehicles, managers can identify ways to reduce the risk of accidents on worksites, as well as improve fleet management, performance and efficiency.
FLEET METRICS TO MEASURE DRIVER BEHAVIOR
Among other things, GPS data and telematics provide insight into driver behavior. These fleet metrics include alerts when on-road drivers consistently exceed the speed limit, are involved in crashes, or when they fail to wear their seatbelts. Other metrics can be used to alert managers when drivers are braking or accelerating too hard or excessively, making turns too hard or when axles are locking up too often.
This ultimately reduces maintenance costs and repairs, helps managers track and manage the depreciation of fleet vehicles, improves overall fuel economy and extends the life of the vehicles and equipment in the fleet.
For drivers of heavy off-road equipment such as motor graders, bulldozers, scrapers and front-end loaders, telematics can help project managers keep track of where all of their equipment is on any given day, check to see if it is functioning efficiently and prevent losses from theft. Cost-effective solutions are also available for monitoring fixed equipment (not driver-operated).
Metrics tracked can include data on fuel levels or even maintenance requirements. This critical information is instantly accessible to equipment managers so that they can avoid unnecessary downtimes or lost productivity on the jobsite.
Managers can also use metrics to collaborate with other workers on a jobsite — as well as with people on other job sites — on issues concerning equipment utilization and maintenance. Managers can then dispatch additional machinery if necessary.
IMPROVING DRIVER BEHAVIOR WITH TRAINING
Once data and metrics have been collected on vehicle routes and individual driving behavior, the next step is making that data actionable to create a safer work culture. Perhaps the biggest benefit to using fleet metrics is that they can be used to help improve driver performance and behavior, which in turn reduces safety risks on the jobsite and the risk of crashes on the roadways.
Thankfully, most crashes are preventable if drivers have the right training and safe driving habits. Implementing a formal driver safety training program can significantly reduce the number of on-the-job accidents and the risk of liability to a company. By establishing a safe driving policy and providing drivers with classroom instruction and instructor-led, behind-the-wheel training in real-world scenarios, fleets can reduce the number of on-the-job crashes and the severity of crashes.
As a result, this type of advanced training — driven by fleet metrics — ultimately protects drivers and employees both on and off the jobsite, as well as the company’s bottom line.