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July 26, 2019
When a driver commits a combination of moving traffic offenses that endanger other people or property, they’re engaging in aggressive driving. For fleets, this means endangering company vehicles, property and reputations. Monitoring aggressive and reckless driving is a critical element to keeping your fleet safe, reducing accidents, helping to prevent injury and death, and reducing operating costs.
What is aggressive driving?
NHTSA defines aggressive driving as, “The operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.”1
Examples of aggressive driving include speeding, swerving, hard braking, lane blocking, tailgating, honking at other vehicles in non-emergency situations, displays of anger to other vehicles, frequent and/or sudden lane changes, failing to yield the right of way and running red lights. Aggressive driving contributes to a significant number of crashes each year, and drivers can be ticketed for such offenses.
An important distinction to remember is that aggressive driving is a traffic violation, while more serious road rage incidents are criminal offenses2.
The impact of aggressive driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) aggressive driving was a contributing factor to 56 percent of fatal crashes from 2003 through 20073. If that isn’t reason enough for drivers to change their behavior, they should also consider its potential impact on their careers.
If severe enough, aggressive driving and the negative effects of it can be recorded in a Pre-employment Screening (PSP) report. A PSP report captures individual commercial drivers’ safety records including five years of crash data and three years of roadside inspection data. Drivers with poor PSP reports face consequences in the job market, as many carriers review these reports when making hiring or retention decisions.
Carriers and fleet managers should also be concerned with poor driving behavior because it can be factored into their Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score. The higher the CSA score, the more likely the FMCSA rates the carrier to be involved in an accident. High CSA scores can lead to increased scrutiny on a carrier, including more frequent DOT roadside inspections, audits, and increased insurance premiums.
Another important factor for fleet managers to consider is the impact that aggressive driving can have on their organization’s reputation. Your fleet vehicles are moving advertisements, and potential customers who witness any type of aggressive or unsafe driving behavior may have a bad first impression of your brand before you even have the chance to do business with them.
How to end aggressive fleet driving
Carriers and fleet managers can take a top down approach to putting an end to aggressive driving behavior. Fleet managers can begin by using software to monitor driver behavior and coach safety-conscious driving behavior with three key steps:
- Utilize fleet dash cams: Smart video technology available to fleet managers today uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify the severity of an incident. Sometimes drivers are forced into aggressive behaviors, like harsh braking, if they get cut off by an aggressive driver.
Context is important for these harsh driving events. When unsafe driving behavior occurs, you can view the dash cam video to better understand what happened before and after and provide video evidence in the event of a false claim. With smart fleet dash cams, drivers can defend themselves against false claims by demonstrating the context of their maneuver and fleet managers can use the footage to back them up. With integrated video technology, it’s no longer necessary to sort through hours of footage looking for the incident, behaviors are analyzed automatically by the AI technology, categorized, and time/location stamped.
- Implement a driver management program: Driver management software helps fleet managers capture and coach drive behavior while giving drivers the tools they need to track their performance and improve. Gamification and scoreboards make it easy to encourage improvement in driving habits amongst your drivers while adding some friendly competition.
The right software will also have all the tools your driver needs to get the job done, from commercial navigation, work order management and compliance solutions, all on a single device. Drivers can also proactively manage their own performance with personalized leaderboard apps that allow them to review their driving every day.
- Focus on compliance: Spending too many hours on the road is one of the causes of aggressive driving. Help all drivers remain in compliance with hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, as these rules are designed to prevent drivers from too much time on the road. HOS regulations include the 60/70 hour-limit that prevents drivers from too many hours behind the wheel in a week long period, the rest break rule, the 11 hour limit, the 14 hour limit and the sleeper berth provision.
Post-ELD mandate, it’s more important than ever to use fleet compliance software that keeps mistakes to a minimum and helps reduce the stress of completing a daily HOS log.
Putting an end to aggressive driving is in the best interest of everyone on the road. Aggressive driving contributes significantly to the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities that occur on the roads every year. Drivers will benefit from having fewer violations and improved PSP reports, and carriers can improve their CSA score to reduce costs.