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18 comments

Texting on the Jobsite

Posted March 03, 2010 7:07 AM

A construction site is one of the most dangerous places on earth. It can be especially dangerous while working in the presence of heavy machinery, and even more dangerous if you're operating that equipment. Use of electronic equipment like cell phones, iPods, and Blackberries by operators and workers however, is making an already dangerous situation deadly. Take the case of an upstate New York truck driver who was so distracted by texting, he sideswiped into another vehicle, careened off the road, and ended up crashing into a nearby swimming pool.

Reports of construction workers operating equipment while listening to iPods are also becoming more prevalent. In one particular case, a worker never heard the reverse alarm that was going off on a piece of earth-moving equipment and he suffered the consequences.

Just this morning I too was driving to my writing studio in my Jeep 4X4 when my Blackberry vibrated, indicated a new text message. Against my better judgment, I decided to take a look at it. According to a recent study conducted by the Virgina Tech Transportation Institute, in the time it took me to pick up the device, open the text, and read it, I'd traveled about 100 yards… without paying attention to the road!

So states the study, "a truck driver looking down while texting for a mere six seconds while motoring at 55 miles per hour will travel the entire length of a football field, and not realize he traveled so far, so fast. No longer is it only intoxicated drivers who are dangerous, it is the 'intexticated' drivers, as well."

Recent legislation to ban the use of electronic devices in passenger cars has been enacted not only in the U.S., but in many countries all over the globe. Should similar bans be imposed on construction equipment operators?

The preceding article is a "sneak peek" from Construction Tools & Equipment, a newsletter from GlobalSpec. To stay up-to-date and informed on industry trends, products, and technologies, subscribe to Construction Tools & Equipment today.

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#1

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/03/2010 10:55 PM

I'm not sure what math they are using, but by my calculations the truck driver would have gone 161 yards in 6 seconds at 55 mph which for those who do not follow American football is 1.61 football fields. Oh wait, now perhaps they were including the end zones.

While I don't condone DWT (driving while texting), if you are going to do it, then do it properly. Don't spend six seconds at a time looking at your device....glance quickly to the device, then back to the road switching quickly back and forth so you have both images in your mind (road and cell phone message)....just don't confuse the two.

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#18
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Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/22/2010 5:37 AM

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#2

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 4:03 AM

IMHO, the telecommunication, headphones, and music playing devices of all types, including cell phones, should be banned from the job site and job related activity (like a ready-mix truck driver, etc.)for all, unless they're stationary and equipment is shut-down or if they're in a construction trailer.....this rule should be applied to not just construction workers, but their supervisors, architects, engineers, inspectors, testing agency personnel, inspectors and any visitor to the site.

I know I'll hear a lot of poo-pooing about this from certain quarters here saying you're talking away their rights, etc, or slowing down work progress. My response is that would you rather be dead or responsible for someone else being injured or killed?

The past decade I have personally seen a marked increase of "close calls" on construction sites because of these new electronic gadgets. High time for some regulatory action and park the damn things at the gate.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 4:17 AM

I agree.

I am generally in favor of not interfering with individual's rights, however, those rights stop when individuals endanger others or their employer's job site, that's a different story.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 9:30 AM

What about the rights of those around the individual, whose limited their sense of hearing by listening to an ipod, in an industrial area.

It's not about individual rights, it's about being on company time. If you're in an industrial zone, where machinery or equipment is being operated, then you had better not be listening to an ipod or texting or talking on a cell phone, regardless if you're operating the equipment or just standing around it. That includes while driving down the road.

Just talking on a hands free cell phone takes 85% of your attention away from the road. That accounts for the people driving slow in the fast lane, oblivious to the cars backed up behind them. They are not paying attention to the road even when looking straight ahead. Their response time is greatly reduced. People talking on cell phones while driving are a hazzard to everyone else around them.

That 85% number, I got from a Defensive Driving class.

It's not the same as listening to a passenger talk to you or listening to the car radio. Listening on a cell phone requires much more of your brain's resources.

It doesn't really matter how much we preach about the hazzards. Most of the people out there that do it concider themselves intelligent responsible poeple, but as soon as they start talking on the cell phone while driving their cars, or operating that crane or walk through a busy warehouse, they are in the category of "Stupid." Whether they like it or not and our preaching only falls on deaf ears.

Some people are destined to learn things through hard knocks.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 9:46 AM

If I were a site manager, I'd have clear policies about listening to music or texting. Texting should only be done while standing or sitting, not while operating a tool or machine, etc. Ear buds or headphones should just be banned except while on break. It's a free country and it's their bodies at risk, but it's the manager's butt too, and that takes precedence.

The University of Utah has published several studies over the years about driving distractions. It's obvious that the vast majority of accidents are due to the driver simply not taking driving seriously enough.

There's not much improvement to driver awareness to be gained from a hands-free phone versus a phone held to your ear by one hand. It's the conversation with a remote person (or computer) that's distracting you, not having one hand away from the controls. Contrast this with a conversation with a passenger, who can be a second set of eyes and alert the driver to threatening conditions. (This practice is widely encouraged given that all drivers appreciate helpful feedback about their driving. )

Frankly, I wish it was kosher to call 911 about someone I observe texting while driving. This practice cannot be safe under any conditions and should be strictly forbidden. (I commute in a van pool and though my vehicle tends to be a lot bigger than theirs, I DON'T want a clueless texting driver getting squished by my van, or otherwise disturbing my sleep in any way.)

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 10:20 AM

I like your signature.

Does that include the people that like to play dumb when you ask them questions?

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 10:55 AM

Does that include the people that like to play dumb when you ask them questions?

Not at all. They're not truly ignorant, just providing a useful service, assuming they're being a Devil's Advocate and not merely trying to duck responsiblity.

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#14
In reply to #5

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 6:33 PM

I'm in South Korea and it amazes me how many people are glued to the cell phone/I-pods/etc. Numerous times I've been driving, slowly I might add, through a small area near my apartment (lots of buildings, narrow streets, shops everywhere, cars parked on the curb) and had to brake hard to avoid hitting someone (usually under 30 years old) who has their cell phone to their face (not ear, but reading the screen) that just walks across the street without so much as glancing at traffic.

Sometimes I think we should stop being so nice and allow Darwinism to take it's course.

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#13
In reply to #4

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 6:26 PM

"It's not about individual rights, it's about being on company time. "

Yes, I agree. When you are employed by someone else, you should abide by their rules, especially regarding safety. One should also abide by the rules and safety guidelines set forth by the industry in which you work, the state in which you work and the country in which you work.

I'm no fan of cell phone use in cars, but I'm curious where the 85% comes from (You say you got it from a defensive driving course, but where did they get it)? I'm always skeptical of statistics (even when I use them to further my own arguments). I'm curious how it is determined that 85% of one's attention is diverted. That number just seems too high to pass the smell test to me. I accept that a significant portion of attention is diverted even enough to be dangerous. But at 85%, I would expect the traffic accidents to sky rocket.

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/05/2010 9:46 AM

I've read articles that claim that talking on the cell phone while driving is more dangerous then drunk driving. Driving while sleep deprived is also more dangerous then drunk driving.

I attended a defensive driving class for a speeding ticket and 85% is the information the instructor told us. She was very entertaining and made the class interesting but none of us questioned her sources. I get OSHA newsletters and other safety bulletins all the time and I use that information pertianining to any of the subject matter in my training meetings. I would assume she was getting her information from the same sources and have access to other sources that I don't have. She is a safety professional.

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/05/2010 10:34 AM

I have no doubt that talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous and am in favor something being done about it.

According to this link http://www.nationwide.com/newsroom/dwd-facts-figures.jsp :

  • The University of Utah says distraction from cell phones extend a driver's response time as much as having blood alcohol level at the legal limit (0.08 %)
  • NHTSA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves
  • Driving while distracted is a factor in 25 percent of police reported crashes
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent (Carnegie Mellon)

None of that looks good, but seems to be a far cry from 85%. I also don't know if it's fair to compare to driving while intoxicated either. If I get into a car with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% and drive 20 miles to get home. I'm impaired for 20 miles of my drive. If I get into a car to drive 20 miles to get home and spend 1/3 of that time on the phone, I'm only impaired at an equivalent level for 1/3 of the trip.

I think many of us (myself included) are guilty of latching onto statistics that support what we promote without giving enough thought to the legitimacy of the data.

For someone teaching a defensive driving course....what will get your student's attention more telling them that cell phone impair you at 85% or at 50%? When I'm behind the wheel, I don't want to be impaired even 10%.

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#8

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 12:01 PM

You Gotta love that pic of the F-22A Raptor!!! Thanks for providing it.....inspirational!

It's too bad that our Prez & this Congress voted to stop production. Great Air Superiority Fighter, lousy .......uummm no, make that stupid shortsighted politics as usual!!!

Now that the Red Chinese have repeatedly stolen classified documents and our state of the art aeronautical technology with impunity and are currently are copying the F-22A and the F-35A/B, it's only a matter of time before the F-15C loses the technical edge, and it's "here we go again developing the next generation stealthy ATF at great cost to the American Taxpayer, not to mention another 10-15 years wasted scrambling around in project development La La Land...just sickening how much money, effort, genius, and time was just carelessly tossed out the door...

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 1:38 PM

Here's the full size:

http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/090622-N-7780S-777.jpg

As much as I like the airplane, and my jaw has dropped during a live demonstration, it's really nothing more than a Ferrari of the Skies. It literally flies circles around anything else, but we really don't NEED it. Until/unless our would-be enemies field their own stealth designs, our F-16 and F-15 pilots have all the real-world experience and training they need to face any contingency. And then there are UAVs, which we have and they for the most part don't...

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 3:02 PM

Hi Lynn,

Thanks for the enlarged pic!

Unfortunately, I haven't seen the F-22A in person yet, although my younger brother has. He just retired this past year as a Lt. Col. and F-16C Viper Driver with the NJANG ("Jersey Devils"). According to him, it's his understanding that we'll need the Raptor in 4 to 5 years time because both the Russians, and especially, the Chinese will be fielding at least 2nd Gen. stealth air superiority fighters of their own design and ill-gained technology from our country. Let's not forget that both countries are flush with cash (Russians with oil revenue, the Chinese with a huge trade imbalance). All you have to do is read the assessments from Jane's and you'll see the big picture real fast. Also, do a Google search of up-to-date You-tube videos of up and coming Russkie and Chinese fighter aircraft and the picture isn't so rosie.

I hate to argue the point, but even though I'm a former US Army Engineer, I've been a military aviation historian most of my adult life + I was surrounded by USAF pilots (uncle who flew 2 tours of duty in F-105G Wild Weasels...missions over N. Viet Nam; a cousin who retired BG and flew many types in Nam, DS, and Bosnia; my brother of course, a vet of DS and Bosnia; and a former college roomie who flew 43 F-16A missions in DS with the 174th TFW Boys from Syracuse) when I was a kid, teen years and in college. I'm also an Army Brat...dad retired a Full Bird Col. with 27 years service. I had 14 years service.

Okay, we have a difference of opinion and that's okay, but from my viewpoint/angle I kinda see the writing on the wall a whole lot differently than you do, so to speak, and I don't like what I'm seeing...we don't have enough F-22A's present in the USAF...what with only a single Fighter Wing (the 1st Fighter Wing...."Fighting First" based at Langley AFB, VA) that is mission capable? The F-15 design plan-form is getting very aged @ 40 years.......same with the F-16 at nearly 35 years old, even with all the avionics updates and blocks over the years. The new Chinese J-37 will give both a run for their money......basically it's a mix between a SAAB JAS 39A Gripen, a Eurofighter Typhoon and an Israeli F-16 knockoff/hybrid. and that's only the beginning of what's coming out of their design studios......ditto with the MIG and Sukhoi design studios in Russia.....and look who is the Russian Premier....a very scary Putin. Never trusted the Russians and the Chinese and still don't. A Leopard doesn't change it's spots.....

===signed, CaptMoosie, former Capt., USA/USAR

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 4:07 PM

F-16 and F-15 pilots have been flying against the F-22 for over a year now. Though I suspect the kill ratio is pretty skewed, I'd also expect the old guard has learned a few things about fighting stealthy opponents.

I wish we were rich enough to replace every F-15 with an F-22. That'd be really cool. Call me unpatriotic if you must, but I also think that we don't want to get too superior at this warfighting thing. Next cowboy president that comes along... well, we've seen what happens: "Iran thanks the USA for the 2nd largest oil reserves in the world."

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/04/2010 6:19 PM

I'm not following you. Can you explain the comment "Iran thanks the USA for the 2nd largest oil reserves in the world."? How is the US responsible for the quantity of oil under Iran?

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#17
In reply to #12

Re: Texting on the Jobsite

03/08/2010 9:09 AM

Iran's new oil reserves are under Iraq.

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