Truck driving is a risky business, but safe driving can greatly reduce danger. Today’s fleet managers use many methods and technologies to prevent, detect and address dangerous driving. From fully integrated onboard technologies to analyzing report cards and maintenance data, these efforts can help reduce accidents and costs for your trucking company.
Learn how to identify unsafe driver behavior for a safer and more productive fleet. And when you’re finished reading, check out the other articles in our ‘DOT Clearinghouse’ series:
- Drivers’ guide to the DOT Clearinghouse background screening
- What is the alcohol and drug Clearinghouse for truckers?
- New drug and alcohol FMCSA regulations in 2024
- How to detect dangerous driver behavior
What is considered dangerous driving?
Fleet drivers could put themselves or others in harm’s way by driving dangerously in many different ways. Here are some common categories of dangerous driving behavior:
- Impaired driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medications. Strictly prohibited for commercial drivers.
- Speeding: Driving over the speed limit is unsafe for the large and heavy trucks that truckers operate. Speeding reduces reaction time and control.
- Distracted driving: Eating, texting, talking on a phone, or anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road. Truckers spend a lot of time driving solo and need to stay focused.
- Fatigued or drowsy driving: Driving while overtired can impair judgment and reaction times. Truckers should take breaks and rest when needed.
- Following too closely: Trucks need more stopping distance than regular cars. Tailgating removes the margin of safety.
- Improper lane changes: Changing lanes abruptly without signaling or checking blind spots. Trucks have large blind spots that must be accounted for.
- Aggressive driving: Actions like weaving in and out of traffic, sudden accelerations, or brake checks. Drivers should drive calmly and avoid confrontation.
- Failure to signal: Neglecting to use turn signals prevents other drivers from anticipating the truck’s maneuvers.
- Improper passing: Attempting to pass in unsafe conditions or illegal areas can lead to accidents.
The large size and weight of trucks means truckers have an extra responsibility to drive safely and minimize risks on the road. Avoiding dangerous behaviors protects the truck driver, other motorists, pedestrians and cargo.
How does dangerous driving affect fleet management?
Fleet managers need to be especially aware of unsafe driving behavior among their drivers. The biggest concern is safety, but there are additional costs associated with unsafe driving among fleet truckers.
Accidents negatively impact fleet utilization and driver efficiency by putting trucks and drivers out of commission. They also can result in higher insurance costs, more engine wear and tear and potential legal noncompliance.
How can dangerous driving be prevented?
To combat the effects of dangerous driving, savvy fleet managers use fleet management software. This cloud-based technology integrates all aspects of trucking company’s operations so managers can easily monitor vital data regarding Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance, fuel consumption and driving habits. Managers also use other technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) dashcams, as part of fleet management systems to further track driver behavior.
Drivers can improve their driving safety in several ways. By avoiding cellphone use on the road, getting a restful night’s sleep and staying calm behind the wheel, fleet drivers can reduce their chances of getting into an accident.
5 ways to detect dangerous driver behavior
Fleet managers can detect dangerous driving in several ways, including using GPS data, integrating dash cams, keeping up on vehicle inspections, analyzing report cards and monitoring fuel and maintenance data.
1. GPS and telematics data
Fleet GPS systems and telematics allow fleet managers to monitor driver behavior from afar. Telematics is a trucking technology that tracks and reports vehicle data such as GPS location, speed, fuel consumption, mileage, braking patterns, idling time and acceleration.
Because GPS-enabled telematics systems track data directly related to driving behavior in real-time, fleet managers can quickly and effectively address the problems before they escalate.
2. Dash cams
Modern dashcams have far more functionalities than just recording the road in front of you. The new AI dashcams can monitor driver behavior through interior cab monitoring. They use facial recognition and other advanced technology to determine when a driver glances at their phone, looks away from the road for too long or neglects to wear their seatbelt.
When one of these dangerous driving behaviors occurs, the dashcam sends a real-time warning that encourages safer driving. Managers can also use this data to coach drivers and encourage improvements,
3. Vehicle inspections
Vehicle maintenance and inspection reports can help provide a bigger picture of how drivers behave on the road. When trucks begin experiencing an overabundance of unexplained problems or require maintenance more than other trucks in your fleet, the driver may be to blame. For example, poor driving behaviors speed up the wear and tear on vehicle engines, and scratches and dents can indicate a lack of attention.
4. Analyzing report cards
A driver’s Drive-a-Check (DAC) report contains a complete overview of their driving history. Fleet managers can use these reports to review driving records, work history, training and certifications, drug and alcohol testing history and criminal history. Because any driving infractions are included on these report cards, managers can also use them to anticipate future problems and work with drivers to improve safety.
5. Review fuel and maintenance data
Fleet managers already track fuel and maintenance data to manage their variable costs. But they can also use this information to inform about driver behaviors.
Fuel logs: By comparing fuel expenditures, projected miles per gallon (mpg) and actual mpg, managers can pinpoint discrepancies that indicate unsafe driving. Once managers rule out theft, increased fuel consumption can likely be attributed to erratic driving, speeding or excessive idling.
Preventive maintenance schedules and inspections: Preventative maintenance and routine inspections can indicate just as much about a driver as they can about a vehicle. Unusual wear and tear or recurring failed inspections can pinpoint poor driver behavior.
Work orders: Similar to unusual inspections, certain recurring work orders can indicate to fleet managers that they have a driver behavior problem on their hands.
Improve driver behavior with fleet technology
Driver safety is a top concern of trucking managers. With advanced technologies that detect dangerous driving behaviors, fleet managers can address behaviors before an accident and make the road a little safer for everyone.
Truck driver behavior can be measured with telematics, AI dashcams and the Driver Behavior Questionaire (DBQ).
Managers can improve fleet safety by making safe driving a priority and effectively tracking driver behavior.
Safety awareness training, hours-of-service compliance and telematics can reduce fleet accident rates.
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