Technology for Road Construction

May 29, 2020

Road construction risks the lives of drivers and workers on a daily basis. In fact, work zone fatalities for drivers, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists are all on the rise.

 As a result, there are several situations in which a construction company may be liable for a work zone auto accident. This can occur when a construction company negligently sets up a work zone site or fails to uphold the maintenance of traffic (MOT), or when construction equipment owned by the company causes the accident. The most common allegations in work zone lawsuits include:

  • Lack of compliance with work zone standards, such as the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
  • Lack of formal, written traffic control plan
  • Improper or ineffective signage
  • Improper placement of vehicles and equipment
  • Improper posted speed for conditions
  • Poor visibility

Technology to support contractors
With the emergence of new technology in recent years, several controls have improved the effectiveness of claims defense for street and road contractors. The following technologies are being used in the industry to help document inspections, proper setup of work zones, MOT and work zones after-hours.

Smartphone applications
Smartphone apps are one of the best ways for the field supervisors to document inspections and corrective actions, as well as jobsite photos and videos.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements for documents vary substantially across each state, for street and road jobs. Once the lead contractor finds out what their state requires, it’s crucial for other contractors to modify their logs and checklists accordingly. These inspection logs are vital in defending a potential liability claim and can prove the contractor carried out their traffic control plan.

One app that works across state lines is called Job Walk by Holobuilder. It allows contractors to set up numerous, 360-degree cameras around the project site, sync videos to the app and document the inspection tour from all viewpoints.

Street and road builders are also realizing the benefits of drones. Drones can provide a bird’s-eye-view of the entire work zone, storage areas and entry/exit points for construction equipment. They also can provide detail on traffic flow, congestion points and vehicle speed sampling.

Another area that is taking advantage of drones? Bridge work, as drones can easily access areas for inspections and quality control documentation. In fact, drones are so effective in street and road work that some DOTs are using them for compliance inspections.

Vehicle dash cameras
Contractors are beginning to use dash camera systems to document the work zone and MOT by driving through the work zone at the start and end of the shift, and saving the footage to the job file.

The usage of dash cameras is proving to be very effective in documenting the placement of warning signs, speed limit, visibility and compliance of work zone standards. More importantly, it puts the viewer in the driver’s seat and takes them through each step of the work zone — including the approach and exit areas. This can be a critical step in documenting the work zone and the placement of equipment at the end of a shift or prior to the weekend.  

Custom time lapse cameras
Custom time lapse cameras can capture work zone progress from beginning to end. This can be important in the defense of a work zone liability claim.

The time lapse cameras can be adjusted to take pictures at designated times throughout the shift and beyond. This is a great way to capture changing MOT throughout the day, or throughout phases of construction. It is not uncommon for passing cars to knock over or bump traffic control devices, such as barrels, cones or signs. The time lapse camera will help document these incidents and when the contractor maintains/corrects the MOT during the shift. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) project monitoring
An AI system will access several camera feeds during a project to pull data and analytics. The system will serve as a “second pair of eyes” that watches for, and documents, construction events. Algorithms power the camera feeds to track construction equipment, deliveries and changes in traffic flow.

The system also can be used for some safety functions. For example, the system will monitor all jobsite employees to ensure hard hats are worn. It also can give alerts to notify of pedestrians or bicyclists that have entered the site.

AI project monitoring can prove its worth in defending a work zone liability claim by providing exact locations and times of construction equipment or traffic control devices. All footage can be retrieved and alerts are in real-time. 

Technology does more than just help contractors
As the number of road construction accidents continues to rise, the technologies mentioned above will do more than just help contractors in claims defense. They may reduce the number of accidents, by enhancing proactive safety on the jobsite.

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