As a fleet manager, ensuring the safety of your fleet vehicles, drivers, and the general public is your top priority. Other top areas of concern also include mitigating risks, decreasing costs, and increasing fleet efficiency. This also includes confirming that your drivers aren’t doing anything that would result in them receiving any moving violations or fines from law enforcement.
As such, this means that you need to be able to efficiently keep an eye out to know how well your drivers are behaving. Are they speeding? Do they accelerate faster than necessary? Do they consistently brake hard?
An efficient and reliable fleet management system can help you answer these questions and more, as well as make your fleet more efficient in the process. Read on to learn how.
What is Hard Braking and Rapid Acceleration?
Hard braking or excessive acceleration occur when a driver uses more force than necessary to either stop or move a vehicle. When you’re talking about drivers of big rig trucks, these two activities can be particularly precarious considering that a loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 40 tons and can’t stop on a dime.
In fact, the total stopping time for a truck traveling at 55 mph is roughly six seconds, meaning that the truck will continue to travel approximately 510 feet. Considering that a football field, from goal line to goal line, is only 300 feet, you can see what this means in terms of trying to stop rapidly without leaving a safe distance between the truck and any vehicles in front of it.
The telltale activities of hard braking and rapid acceleration also can be signs of aggressive driving. This is not only potentially dangerous for truck drivers and the people on the road around them, it can also be expensive for your fleet business. Truck drivers typically can avoid hard braking by regularly anticipating road conditions and practicing defensive driving techniques.
Another effect of excess acceleration is that it burns fuel at a rapid rate and puts undue strain on the engine. The safest way to accelerate in a large truck is to push the pedal gently in a low gear and then change into high gear as you gradually speed up.
How You Can Monitor Hard Braking and Rapid Acceleration
If you have concerns that your drivers may be engaging in these types of behaviors, there is something you can do to confirm or resolve them. Global positioning system (GPS) technology is an incredible advantage for fleet managers around the world. And, many GPS tracking units now come equipped with built-in accelerometers — a technology that used to be incredibly expensive to include but is now relatively standard in most modern devices.
When you equip your fleet vehicles with these tracking devices, their accelerometer features can determine:
- When the vehicle is engaged.
- In what direction it is traveling.
- How much it has moved.
- How quickly it is traveling.
Monitor These Events with Rastrac Fleet Management Software
With Rastrac’s GPS fleet management software, you can automatically generate event reports that track a variety of events, two of which include hard braking and rapid acceleration.
You also can set notifications to immediately inform you via text message and/or e-mail whenever one of these events occur. These notifications also can be set to trigger for other reasons as well, including:
- When vehicles reach high RPMs.
- When vehicles are idling excessively.
- When the vehicles enter or leave specific areas.
This last notification is made possible when you set up geofences, or virtual boundaries, around specific geographic areas.
Why Monitoring Hard Braking and Rapid Acceleration is Important
Although there are many reasons to monitor any hard braking or acceleration events, some of the top reasons involve the safety of your drivers and the public. Drivers who accelerate or brake too quickly in such a large truck not only prematurely increase the wear and tear of their vehicle, they also risk losing control of their vehicle.
Monitoring these activities enables you to keep an eye on how your drivers are performing and can help you to achieve many other tasks.
Eliminate Aggressive Driving
If any of your fleet drivers are tired, overly stressed, or angry, they may inadvertently (or intentionally) express their frustrations through their driving. By monitoring their hard braking and acceleration events, you can take immediate action to reach out to your drivers and prevent any escalated situations.
Decrease the Risk of Accidents and Accident-Related Costs
If any of your drivers fail to maintain a safe distance between their truck and the other vehicles that are traveling around them, the chance of an accident occurring can increase dramatically. For example, should a driver try to avoid colliding with any vehicles that pull out in front of them by performing a hard brake, or if the road is icy, they may end up jack-knifing across the road or highway, leading to devastating and potentially deadly results.
If your drivers plan their routes, anticipate weather changes, drive with caution, and pay close attention to changes in traffic, hard braking incidents and major accidents can be significantly reduced. And, by avoiding accidents, your organization can avoid expensive lawsuits, medical costs, and increased insurance rates that would result from these events.
Reduce Fuel Usage and Costs
Fuel costs are the largest expense for virtually every fleet. American Trucker recently cited Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) president and CEO Robbie Diamond as saying, “Though heavy long-haul trucks only make up 4% of the U.S. fleet, they account for 13% of daily fuel consumption by the transportation sector.” This equates to approximately three million barrels of oil per day.
These fuel costs can quickly add up even more for fleets with drivers that regularly engage in hard braking and rapid acceleration. Studies suggest that drivers who eliminate hard braking and acceleration can save an extra three miles per gallon. Imagine the savings that your fleet would enjoy if all your drivers actively try to avoid these activities. If you’re able to receive a notification when these events occur, you can reach out to the responsible driver to find out what happened or address any issues.
Reduce Unnecessary Wear and Tear
As mentioned earlier, drivers who brake or accelerate rapidly unnecessarily increase the wear and tear of their vehicle. Part of this is that hard braking significantly decreases the lifespan of brakes by causing them to overheat and by wearing out the pads sooner. This means that you’ll be required to replace the brakes more often, thereby increasing your maintenance costs.
Ensuring the safety of fleet employees, vehicles, and members of the public is an important responsibility of everyone involved with managing a fleet — especially you as a fleet manager. An agile and reliable GPS tracking and fleet management solution can help you to confirm that you accomplish this goal to the best of your ability.
Contact Rastrac today to schedule a demo and see how our fleet management solutions can help your fleet achieve greater levels of safety and efficiency.
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