In recent years, many construction companies have realized the value of telematics, a method of using phone apps, seatbelt monitors, AI sensors, and cameras to capture information on driving behavior and safety. But while implementing telematics has become increasingly common in construction vehicles, studies show that most companies aren’t embracing the technology to its full potential.
A recent survey showed that while 86 percent of construction companies use telematics, only about 23 percent use that data to inform their decision-making.
The value of telematics data goes beyond safety. It can also offer insight into company-wide trends, reduce operating expenses, and even help in court. Here are four ways that implementing telematics can add value to your construction company—and tips to help construction risk managers and executives act on the data these systems collect.
1. Create a culture of safety.
Construction workers face one of the highest rates of injury and death on the job of any profession. The industry accounted for about 20 percent of all on-the-job fatalities in 2019, according to OSHA. As such, creating a culture of safety is a high priority for construction executives, who want to mitigate risk and keep employees safe.
Telematics data enables companies to create that culture of safety—but simply implementing telematics won’t make drivers safer. To make real change, companies need to monitor and coach drivers, with the goal of improving driving behavior and reducing risk.
By leveraging data to change drivers’ habits, companies can take a proactive approach to safety and help stop accidents from happening in the first place.
Tips for implementation: coach drivers more effectively and respond to trends, not single incidents, so employees don’t feel like they are being punished for a situation that may not have been in their control. Focus on positive reinforcement and get to the root cause of poor driving behaviors—like determining whether employees are overworked or fatigued. Liberty Mutual’s Managing Vital Driving Performance (MVDP™) program takes this approach to help companies implement telematics successfully. One customer realized a 56 percent decrease in aggressive driving events and a 60 percent decrease in hard braking events over a three-month time period after implementing MVDP.
2. Reduce operating expenses.
As noted above, telematics data can help your company move from a reactive to proactive approach to driver safety—and that can make a difference for your bottom line. Why? Safer driving will lead to fewer accidents and less money spent on vehicle repair and replacement. Over time, safe driving can even cut down on regular maintenance costs because drivers won’t wear out brakes and other parts as frequently. Additional savings might include improved fuel efficiency and better regulatory compliance—which means lower fuel costs and fewer DOT citations to pay.
Tips for implementation: bring telematics into your asset-management process by monitoring costs like maintenance, citations, and other expenses each quarter. You can then compare these expenses to telematics data to track how safe driving is impacting your operating costs.
3. Spot trends across your fleet.
For larger companies, in particular, telematics is a valuable investment as it can help you spot trends across your fleet. A national construction company, for example, might use telematics to monitor driving behavior across geographic regions to determine whether certain areas are more prone to risk. Telematics data can also help you track trends across different employee populations, types of vehicles, and more. These trends can help you assess your risks from all aggressive driving—not just aggressive driving that has resulted in a single accident.
Tips for implementation: for companies with a large fleet, telematics data analysis should be part of a robust fleet safety program that includes prehiring screenings, crash reporting protocols, and more.
4. Mitigate legal risks.
Finally, in the event of an accident on the job, telematics data can help you mitigate legal risks. Companies that leverage telematics and have good document-retention practices can use telematics data to help defend against an aggressive plaintiff in a bodily injury and property damage (BI/PD) suit. Plus, both employees and employers can benefit from video recordings of incidents, which can be used as evidence if a dispute ends up in court.
Tips for implementation: Although telematics can be an asset in many legal situations, implementing systems and not acting on the data can be a liability. Companies might be perceived as turning a blind eye if they don’t act on data that shows potentially harmful patterns. If you choose to implement telematics, you should ensure you are not only gathering data but also using it to help reduce risk at your company.
Safer drivers, better data
Successful companies in every industry leverage data and technology to make smarter business decisions—and construction is no exception. By investing in telematics, firms are enabling data-driven decision-making while protecting their employees, vehicles, and bottom line.
Want to learn more about how telematics can help you manage your commercial vehicle fleet?