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Updated Jan 04, 2024

How to Monitor Hard Braking and Acceleration

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst

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If your team is constantly on the road, you have ample reason to worry about your drivers’ safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents kill 1.35 million people globally every year. Your drivers must do everything they can to maximize safety for both themselves and other motorists. Unfortunately, traffic accidents can also severely impact your bottom line, so driver safety is both a business and ethical consideration.

Hard braking and acceleration – together known as hard driving – are leading causes of such accidents. Luckily, tools available in GPS fleet management software make it easier to identify and reduce hard driving in your fleet. Below, learn more about this and how to prevent it from happening.

Editor’s note: Looking for the right GPS fleet management service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

What is hard driving?

Hard driving is any sudden or unexpected change in a vehicle’s direction or speed. It includes taking corners too quickly, accelerating rapidly and – perhaps the most common type – hard braking.

What is hard braking?

Hard braking is the application of more force than usual to a vehicle’s brakes. Your drivers may need to brake hard to avoid rear-ending another vehicle or joining a pile-up in front of them. In fact, hard braking is perhaps the most inevitable type of hard driving. More often than not, though, hard braking by your drivers is the result of their own poor driving habits rather than the world around them.

What is hard acceleration?

Hard acceleration is the application of more force than usual to a vehicle’s gas pedal. This may be necessary when, for instance, your drivers approach a yellow traffic light. That’s because the larger the vehicle, the more time it needs – perhaps as long as six seconds – to come to a full stop.

Like hard braking, hard acceleration shouldn’t happen often. If it does, your team may be driving unsafely – and unsafe driving can have tremendous consequences for your business.

Did You Know?Did you know

Tracking driver behavior is important for protecting your personnel and assets, and complying with electronic logging device (ELD) mandates.

Tips on how to prevent and monitor hard driving

Keep these tips in mind to prevent and properly monitor hard driving.

1. Set follow distances and speeds.

Although your drivers can’t predict or control vehicles in front of them from suddenly braking, they can minimize the chances of this obstacle becoming a disaster. All it takes is maintaining a safe distance between themselves and other vehicles. The same is true for setting speeds that drivers should never exceed. Set these distances and speeds with your drivers before they hit the road to minimize hard driving.

2. Train your drivers on your distance and speed rules.

It’s one thing to set limits; it’s another to show your drivers how to stay within these confines. Hands-on training will go a long way in helping your drivers hit their marks before they get on the road, as will implementing driver scorecards that reflect your drivers’ safety habits. Both approaches can lead to a safer fleet that’s less prone to hard driving.

3. Reward good drivers and retrain unsafe ones.

Whether you manually track all hard-braking alerts or turn to your GPS fleet tracking software for thorough reports, you should use your data as the first step toward an action plan. For example, you can start a “driver of the month” program to reward whichever driver has the fewest hard-driving infractions. Conversely, you can implement mandatory retraining for drivers with more hard-driving incidents than a certain preset minimum.

4. Plan reasonable routes.

Your drivers may feel more inclined toward hard acceleration – which can, in turn, lead to hard braking – if their routes require them to rush between locations to stay on track. In this regard, preventing hard braking is a matter of planning. Don’t expect your drivers to travel long distances in short times. Spread things out so a driver can take their foot off the gas.

5. Install speed-limiting devices.

No, you can’t be in the passenger seat with all your drivers, but you can cap their speeds from afar. Devices that remotely prevent your drivers’ vehicles from exceeding certain speeds are increasingly available. Though some people argue that these devices could prevent necessary instances of hard acceleration, if you’d rather your drivers err on the side of going slow, such devices may be viable solutions.

6. Install GPS fleet management software.

The single easiest way to track your team’s driving habits and collect relevant data is through GPS fleet management software. These platforms will help you generate driver scorecards to keep your drivers accountable, locate your vehicles and monitor your drivers’ travel in real time.

GPS fleet management software’s real-time tools are especially important, as they show you exactly when and where hard driving is happening. Choose GPS fleet management software with a reliable system of alerts and notifications, as well as an electronic logging device to keep you apprised of developments in real time. With this information, you can reach out to offending drivers before they get into accidents.

Why hard driving behavior can damage your business

Hard driving by your team can have many negative impacts on your business:

  • Vehicle wear and tear: Every instance of hard braking accelerates the inevitable, gradual wearing down of a vehicle’s brakes. The result is more fleet maintenance costs in a shorter time frame.
  • Lower fuel efficiency: Hard acceleration is a big-time gas-guzzler, and fuel is a huge fleet expense. Hard driving thus has a substantial impact on your expenses and your bottom line.
  • Increased risk of accidents: Hard braking can lead to your vehicles being rear-ended or rear-ending other vehicles. In the worst-case scenario, a driver’s hard braking can trigger a rear-ending domino effect, leading to a pile-up.
  • Damaged equipment: Accidents damage your vehicles, which are some of your most important business equipment. Hard driving behaviors thus increase your company’s equipment expenses.
  • Public safety threats: Of course, accidents are far more than a business concern – they also impact people who have no connection to your company. Your drivers’ hard braking and acceleration habits could lead to injuries or even deaths of pedestrians and other drivers. You and your drivers should always prioritize human lives over quickly reaching your destinations.
  • Lower CSA scores: All fleets have compliance, safety and accountability (CSA) scores that reflect your drivers’ accident records, safety violations, out-of-service periods and inspections. Hard braking makes many of these CSA-lowering events more likely. The lower your CSA score, the more likely potential customers are to choose one of your competitors instead.

Hard driving may sometimes be a result of tired drivers losing focus on the road. To prevent fatigue-related incidents, always adhere to the Department of Transportation’s HOS rules and regulations.

Benefits of monitoring hard braking and acceleration

Hard braking and acceleration can have dire consequences. You can protect your drivers and company by monitoring your drivers’ behaviors on the road. These are some specific reasons for doing so:

  • Fewer accidents: Simply letting your drivers know that you’re monitoring their driving habits may cause them to drive more safely. In some cases, your drivers will consciously prioritize safety when they know you’re tracking them; in other cases, the change will be more subconscious. Either way, you avoid casualties and damaged equipment.
  • Less expensive operations: The ramifications of hard braking and acceleration on your fuel, wear and tear, and customer acquisition costs are plain as day. Monitoring your drivers’ behavior minimizes these costs. The more you can catch hard drivers in the act and train them to avoid these harmful habits, the less money you lose to dangerous, inefficient driving.
  • More eco-friendly drivers: There’s arguably no such thing as an eco-friendly fleet, but you can promote sustainability when you monitor hard driving. Hard acceleration uses more fuel, thus reducing your fleet’s miles per gallon and increasing its carbon footprint.
  • Instant hard-braking alerts: Some monitoring platforms immediately alert you every time one of your drivers brakes or accelerates too hard. If you are serious about keeping your drivers in line, you could call them every time you receive a hard-driving alert. You can also use your monitoring platform to generate driver alert reports that help you identify training and discipline needs.

The best GPS fleet management software to monitor hard driving

Many of the best GPS fleet management systems excel at tracking hard driving. Below, you’ll learn about how some of these software solutions help you counter poor driving habits.

  • Samsara: This platform uncovers instances of more than hard braking and acceleration – it also pinpoints hard cornering and turning among your drivers. Read our full Samsara review to learn what else this GPS fleet management system can do for your company’s safety record and bottom line.
  • Verizon Connect: This GPS fleet management solution’s artificial intelligence (AI) features identify four road-facing and six driver-facing hazards alongside standard hard-driving occurrences. Learn more via our full Verizon Connect review.
  • NexTraq: Once you implement NexTraq, your drivers will receive alerts right in their vehicles when they commit hard-driving violations. This feature and NexTraq’s dozens of training courses make the platform one of the best choices for fleet safety. Explore more of this platform’s safety features via our full NexTraq review.
  • Azuga: This platform generates real-time alerts on hard-driving behaviors, speeding and excessive idle time. If you’ve banned reversing among your fleet, you can also set up Azuga to alert you to reversals so that you can enforce your policy. Our full Azuga review details how this platform excels at supporting robust driving standards.
  • Force by Mojio: You can track hard-driving behaviors with Force by Mojio and generate scores for each trip a driver takes. In fact, braking, acceleration and speeding are the three primary factors that determine these “RoadScores.” The platform also shows your drivers’ average RoadScore across all their trips. Learn more about this GPS fleet management system via our full Force by Mojio review.

Make hard driving a thing of the past

GPS fleet management software gives you the data and alerts you need to uncover instances of hard driving. It’s on you, though, to train your least safe drivers. Commit ample resources to ensuring your fleet drives safely, and you’ll minimize vehicle wear and tear and accidents. The cost of training your team pays for itself rapidly – both in terms of money and lives saved.

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Max Freedman has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.
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