Distracted Driving is a Construction Safety Issue

Distracted Driving is a Construction Safety Issue

GPRS’ commitment to safety doesn’t stop at the boundaries of the job sites where we help you Intelligently Visualize The Built World®.

Both our team and yours need to drive safely to get to and from their projects. And with April recognized nationally as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Construction Safety Week 2024 running May 6-10, now is the perfect time to remember the vital role we all play in keeping ourselves and our coworkers safe while on the road.

Distraction-affected fatal crashes have increased 4% since 2013, despite a 5% decrease in these incidents in 2022 compared to 2021, according to data from the National Safety Council.

Not surprisingly, the percentage of drivers manipulating hand-held electronic devices – including texting – has increased 82% over the same time period.

“What I continue to see from a data perspective is we have a problem with using devices while driving,” said Chris Moore, GPRS’ Senior Vice President of Internal Operations. “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 300,000 accidents last year were a result of distracted driving in some way, shape, or form… There’s just a level of vigilance needed, and I think we just don’t think about it.”

A man smiling as he poses for a photo.
Chris Moore, GPRS Senior Vice President of Internal Operations

Moore is leading an internal team at GPRS working educate our team members on the dangers of driving distracted. And every vehicle in GPRS’ fleet is equipped with Bluetooth technology, as our team members are prohibited from using hand-held mobile device while behind the wheel.

“Vehicle safety is the number one safety risk that our company faces on a daily basis,” Moore said. “It’s not the risks of being on job sites… It’s our guys behind the wheel, driving 12,000,000-plus miles a year. That’s our biggest safety risk.”

“It’s so important, thinking about it certainly for the safety of our team members and then also for our vehicle fleet,” Moore continued. “And then, thirdly, for insurance rates. [If you don’t take steps to educate your team on the dangers of distracted driving,] trending data shows that someone is going to have a severe accident, and somebody is going to get tremendously hurt.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 27 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving.

Of course, distracted driving means more than just fiddling with your mobile device. It’s looking down to adjust an air vent, turning around to reprimand a child in the backseat, or looking over your shoulder to – ironically – gawk at an accident.

When distracted driving occurs behind the wheel of a company-branded vehicle, that company’s reputation is on the line.

“With distracted driving, everybody does it – self included – right?” Moore said. “And we don’t really say anything about it. Everybody knows it’s bad, but we don’t hold each other accountable… So, specifically in the construction industry: are we willing to look at another contractor and be like ‘Hey dude, I’d appreciate if you’d put that phone down’? There’s some reputational risk, organizational risk, and relationship risk to that, right?”

Moore suggests you “own the awkwardness” when you need to urge a coworker to stay focused behind the wheel.

“If I saw you in the parking lot using your phone as you drove through the parking lot and felt compelled to say something, I would say ‘Hey man, listen, I’m about to say something that’s super awkward, and I don’t know how to say it well, and I’m sorry, but do you need to be using your phone while you’re driving?’” he said. “There are ways in which we can kind of cache it that aren’t attacking and that sort of put us in a humble position.”

At GPRS, safety is always on our radar. Our subsurface damage prevention services, including precision concrete scanning, utility locating, video pipe inspection, and leak detection, are designed to keep you and your team safe so you can leave the job site in the same condition in which you arrived to it.

A construction worker presses buttons on an overhead console while driving.
Distracted driving means more than just fiddling with your mobile device.

But all that work is meaningless if you or a member of your team gets into a fatal accident on your way to or from your site.

You can click here to sign up for more resources to help you and your team stay safe behind the wheel.

It’s also not too late to sign up for your free Construction Safety Week presentation. From May 6-10, GPRS safety experts will travel the country offering free safety presentations to you and your team, at your site or office.

Click here to schedule your CSW presentation today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered distracted driving?

Distracted driving refers to operating a vehicle while engaged in other activities that divert the driver's attention away from the road. Common distractions include using a cellphone, eating, using a GPS, and talking to passengers.

There are three main types of distractions:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road (e.g., looking at a smartphone)
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel (e.g., eating or adjusting the radio)
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off driving (e.g., having a conversation or daydreaming)

Why is distracted driving dangerous?  

Distracted driving increases the risk of a vehicle crash as it impairs the driver's ability to make quick decisions, react to sudden changes, and maintain awareness of road conditions and traffic laws.

What are the consequences of distracted driving?

Consequences can range from minor vehicle damage to serious accidents causing injuries or fatalities. Legally, it can lead to fines, license suspension, and increased insurance rates. In severe cases, it can result in criminal charges.

Are there laws against distracted driving?

Yes, many regions have specific laws that prohibit texting and the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving. Some places also have broader laws against any activity that impairs a driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle.

How can distracted driving be prevented?

Preventative measures include:

  - Turning off electronic devices or setting them to "Do Not Disturb" while driving.

  - Pre-setting GPS and climate controls before departure.

  - Avoiding eating, drinking, or other activities that require manual involvement while driving.

  - Educating drivers, especially teens, about the risks of distracted driving.

What is Construction Safety Week?

CSW is an opportunity for people, companies, and even competitors to work together and celebrate the incredibly hard work by people in the construction industry who make safety the foundation of everything they do. Click here to learn more.