Construction requires a range of specialist vehicles, from tipper trucks and dropside vans to HGVs and JCBs. The exact make-up of your fleet will also depend on what kind of construction you’re engaged in, and where it’s taking place.
But if there’s one trend for construction vehicles across the sector, you could sum it up in one phrase: “Safety, safety, safety”.
Unsafe vehicles and unsafe practices damage a company’s reputation and can land you with eye-watering fines. This year, one firm was fined £800,000 when a worker was crushed to death between a dumper truck and a scissor lift. Last year, a Surrey construction company was fined the same amount after a contractor was run over by a large bulk powder carrier.
With such hefty fines being handed out, more and more firms are realising that investment in safety features for their construction vehicles is a wise investment. But how are managers adapting their fleets to be safer? We look at some of the latest trends we have noticed.
Obstacle detection systems
Construction vehicles are large and it can be difficult for drivers to maintain a clear all-round view. Obstacle detection systems use radar to monitor the proximity of objects and people to the rear of the vehicle, alerting the driver if someone or something appears behind the vehicle while reversing.
Drowsy-driver detection and prevention systems
Tired drivers are more likely to cause accidents. There are a number of different systems available to detect drowsiness, with some learning driver patterns and alerting them if they change. The systems can work by monitoring steering patterns, position-in-lane monitoring, eye and face monitoring or even using input from body sensors.
Vision enhancement technology
Driving construction vehicles safely during the night, or in foggy or dusty conditions, is much more difficult. Specialist vision enhancement systems use thermal imaging technology to provide the driver with a much clearer view, helping to avoid accidents caused by people or other vehicles which are hard to see.
Telematics systems can collect data on driver behaviour, such as speed, cornering, hard braking and harsh acceleration. This can help improve safety in a number of ways. First, you can easily identify drivers with risky driving styles, meaning you can retrain them before an accident happens. Secondly, when drivers know they are being monitored, they are much more likely to sustain safer driving habits at all times. Thirdly, because you can ‘gameify’ safe driving using smartphone apps to create league tables of safe drivers, you can also foster competition among your drivers. Some systems can also shut off a driver’s phone while a vehicle is in operation.
Rollover warning systems
These systems warn drivers when they are approaching the safe limits of vehicle operation by monitoring g-forces when vehicles operate on slopes, or are cornering. As a result, drivers are less likely to take risks that result in their vehicle rolling over.
Load monitoring technology
Construction vehicles need to be loaded safely, but loads can slip and shift causing major safety issues. These systems monitor vehicle load, usually by measuring load on each axle, and alert the driver to any problems.
Miscellaneous safety features
Many safety features have become almost ubiquitous on construction vehicles, and indeed are often required to comply with regulations and local requirements such as the Safer Lorry Scheme. These include blind spot mirrors, safety bars, rear view cameras and glass lower doors that improve visibility.
In conclusion, while it is hard to pin down trends in types of construction vehicle, there’s a very strong trend towards safety features that protect drivers, third parties and a company’s reputation and finances. To learn more about how to comply with important health and safety and environmental standards and what makes the perfect commercial fleet, download our free eBook: