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7 Warning Signs of Bad Driver Behaviors That Every Fleet Manager Should Know

As fleet managers, you hear a lot of talk about data analysis and fuel economy as a means of controlling expenses. But at the core of it is the driver. They’re the ones who set those inputs and operate your equipment on a daily basis.

There are many warning signs that you can spot in the data that can come in handy for retraining purposes. And with one crash happening every 24 seconds, you can’t afford to put it off. In this article, we look at 7 bad driving behaviors you need to pay close attention to.

1. Unsafe Following Distances

Unsafe following distances are particularly concerning when your drivers are operating heavy machinery, such as a semi-truck. These are harder to stop so it’s important that your fleet managers study sensor data and investigate braking patterns.

Frequent hard braking is an indication that your drivers aren’t keeping a safe distance from other motorists. The more instances, the greater the odds of an accident. And if not an accident, your drivers can incur costly fines from tailgating or lead to quicker brake replacements.

2. Excessive Speeding

Speeding is the leading cause of traffic fatalities. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that speeding was a factor in 33% of all traffic deaths in 2019, up 7% from 2017’s numbers.

When drivers speed, they can miss cues about potential dangers ahead, have less time to react to them, and are more likely to lose control of their vehicle.

So, we all know that speeding is dangerous. But did you know that speeding is also one of the leading causes of fuel waste? The faster a vehicle goes, the more fuel it burns. As a result, your company not only endangers lives by allowing speeding but also wastes money on what is already one of the largest expenses your fleet will face.

3. Swerving

Onboard traffic sensors have come quite far over the years. They not only log speeding and hard braking but they also can detect when a driver is swerving. Swerving is often an indication of distracted driving, which is just as dangerous as speeding. It can also be an indicator of fatigued driving.

Fatigued driving is an indication that your driver is violating hours-of-service regulations. That can affect both driver and company if discovered on a government inspection.

4. Harsh Acceleration and Sharp Turns

Like hard braking, harsh acceleration and sharp turns take their toll on a vehicle. Not only does this wear out the engine and other parts more quickly, but it also burns fuel more quickly. Drivers should give the vehicle time to work naturally through the gear progressions.

Mashing hard on the accelerator can cause the tires to lose traction, especially in inclement weather. It also predicates sharp turns. These put unnecessary stress on the engine and transmission and can shift cargo, leading to spills or other accidents.

5. Idling

Engine idling occurs when a driver leaves the engine running while the vehicle is not in motion. Leaving a vehicle running in this manner is hard on fleet costs for three reasons.

First off, surprise surprise, it wastes fuel. Fuel makes the engine go regardless of whether it’s going forward, backward, or sitting still. When the truck is not in motion, the engine shares none of the burdens of keeping the rig moving with any other parts of the vehicle.

Secondly, idling emits harmful pollutants into the air. Emissions aren’t avoidable whether you’re moving or sitting still. But idling serves little logistical purpose and wastes extra fuel resulting in more emissions focused on a more concentrated area than in transit. Finally, it stresses the engine components, such as the battery, spark plugs, starter, or transmission.

6. Cruise Control Reliance

As any big rig driver knows, cruise control can be a helpful tool when travelling long distances. By setting the speed and then letting the truck’s computer do the work, drivers can take a break from constant vigilance and save themselves some fatigue.

However, there are also some dangers associated with cruise control, particularly when it comes to downhill driving. If a truck is going too fast downhill, the cruise control can cause it to accelerate even further, potentially leading to an accident.

For this reason, it is important for drivers to be aware of the potential risks associated with cruise control and to use it judiciously. When travelling downhill, it is always best to keep a close eye on the speedometer and adjust the cruise control accordingly. By doing so, big rig drivers can help to ensure their safety and the safety of those around them.

7. Late For Maintenance Appointments

It’s part of a driver’s responsibility to keep an eye on their vehicle and ensure they’re hitting all the proper maintenance milestones. The driver touches the vehicle every day despite any remote access that fleet managers may have. They should know what needs to be done to keep the vehicle running smoothly.

If a driver is habitually late for maintenance appointments, it’s an indication that they may not be taking proper care of their rig. This can lead to larger problems down the road, including accidents or breakdowns.

Bad Driving Behaviors Offer Teachable Moments

If you notice any of the seven indicators above, then it’s time to have a talk with your driver about how they’re handling their responsibilities. And if you need a mobile fleet repair solution that can ensure your vehicles continue to hold up from the wear and tear, then look no further than J&A Fleet Maintenance.

We have a deep understanding of heavy-duty truck maintenance and repair, and we can keep yours running well past the 150,000-mile mark. Contact us today to keep moving!

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