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How GPS Tracking Can Improve Road Maintenance Brian Dziuk | Jun 15, 2020 11:24:44 AM

Even in quarantine conditions, roadways still experience a lot of wear and tear. Municipalities have to keep streets clean and safe for emergency service crews in the short term, and people returning to work in the long term. As the country slowly reopens following the COVID-19 outbreak and social unrest, municipal agencies need to find ways to enhance the efficiency of their street cleaning and highway maintenance efforts while increasing worker safety.

GPS tracking solutions and fleet telematics are excellent tools for helping municipalities improve their road maintenance efforts. Even when street cleaning and similar activities are outsourced to a road maintenance company, tracking vehicle and crew locations with GPS equipment can be a major boon for safety, efficiency, and operational costs.

But, what are the common causes delays in road construction and maintenance? How can GPS tracking help? How do taxpayers benefit from their municipal government using fleet telematics?

Common Causes of Delays in Road Maintenance and Construction

A study of common road construction project delays cites eight different “groups” of delay causes:

  1. Project Group Causes. This group includes issues related to the road construction project bidding process—such as how projects are awarded to the lowest bidder and issues with the project site.
  2. Owner Group Causes. This includes things such as progress payment delays by the owner (i.e., the municipality), delays in the owner’s decision making, and project postponement.
  3. Materials and Equipment Group Causes. This includes problems with the equipment used on the job, a lack of raw materials, and unplanned material specification changes.
  4. Laborers Group Causes. This group of issues is centered on worker productivity and their ability to complete specific tasks.
  5. External Factors Group Causes. Political issues, weather conditions, and other factors outside of the construction team/municipality’s control are considered “external” factors.
  6. Design Group Causes. This covers items such as late delivery of critical design documents, mistakes in the initial design proposition, and the like.
  7. Contractor Group Causes. When road construction or maintenance project involve an independent contractor, this may lead to contractor group issues like the contractor not being able to finance the project properly, conflicts with other parties, and poor scheduling of project work.
  8. Consultant Group Causes. When consultants are involved in a project, they may have poor communication with other road construction parties, delay their inspections, or not have sufficient numbers of inspectors to properly monitor conditions at the jobsite.

While the study was initially designed to assess the top road construction delay causes in a foreign country (Palestine), many of the insights from the study are broadly applicable to the U.S.—especially in a time period of quarantine lockdowns and civil unrest.

How GPS Tracking Can Improve Road Work

While GPS tracking can’t help with every issue that causes delays in road maintenance or construction work, there are a few key areas where having fleet telematics data can make a drastic difference.

  • Increasing Worker Productivity. Being able to track fleet telematics data for road construction or maintenance vehicles can be incredibly useful for monitoring how efficiently construction crews are working. For example, is construction equipment being activated at the right times? Are their engines active, or simply burning fuel in idle? Being able to track activity helps you monitor productivity and provides opportunities to correct behaviors that waste time and resources.
  • Preventing Equipment Loss. Road work sites are frequently big targets for equipment theft. Thieves can steal valuable equipment left at a jobsite and be long gone before the next shift comes in and discovers the missing equipment. GPS tracking, when paired with geofencing, can generate an instant alert if high-value equipment is moved off the construction site. This helps aid in asset recovery and helps minimize potential delays (and extra costs) caused by equipment theft.
  • Improving Road Cleaning Efficiency. Street cleaning efforts help keep dangerous debris off your municipality’s roads so everyone can use them safely. GPS tracking with a color-coded street mapping solution that can track when each street was last serviced helps municipalities make more efficient use of street cleaning vehicles. Instead of crews skipping some roads and constantly re-cleaning a few roads by accident, you can ensure that each road is serviced on set intervals by using a solution like Rastrac’s own StreetComplete software.

These are just a few of the benefits of using fleet telematics for road work in a municipality. As a side benefit, the increases to efficiency also help municipalities keep road work costs down—helping to stretch frequently-thin government budgets just a bit further without having to sacrifice road maintenance.

Keeping Citizens Happy with Efficient Road Construction and Maintenance

Road maintenance issues such as potholes, street debris, and underdeveloped roadways can be major problems for citizens. Additionally, road work that takes too long and constricts road access can stress commuters—which can make for some very unhappy taxpayers.

Using GPS tracking solutions to optimize road work can not only save municipalities time, labor, and money, it can help keep taxpayers happy. By eliminating problems quickly and efficiently, highway maintenance crews can ensure a faster and safer commute for drivers. Additionally, fixing known issues, like potholes, quickly improves how the public perceives their municipality’s handling of road issues—inspiring confidence that helps keep civic leaders in office during election years.

Eliminating road debris and other hazards can also help save taxpayers money. For example, according to a five-year study by AAA, “pothole damage has cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion annually.” Preventing these additional costs in your municipality helps keep taxpayers happy and able to contribute to the local economy—both by getting to work and being able to frequent local businesses without having to worry about their cars getting wrecked by a pothole.

Are you ready to start optimizing your municipality’s road maintenance and construction efforts? Get in touch with the Rastrac team today.

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