The impact of harsh driving on your bottom line


It’s more or less a fact of life that celebrities, politicians and even the Joe Sixpacks of the world who behave badly are more likely to make the national news than the normal ones – did anyone outside New York know who Anthony Weiner was before his unfortunate Twitter #fail? 

Even people who do good things as well as bad ones (which is the overwhelming majority of humanity in general, to greatly varying degrees, of course) are more likely to be remembered for their bad behavior. Mel Gibson made some fantastic movies back in the day (“FREEEEEEEDOM!”), but his more recent, very publicly inappropriate slurs have left a bad taste in people’s mouths, and now “Braveheart” is less fun to watch. 

Of course, not all bad behavior is as visible as these less-than-pretty examples – or even as, well, bad. 
Fleet owners and managers know that the little things can add up: an extra 10 miles over the speed limit here, some aggressive braking there, and all of a sudden a business’s bottom line can look as bloated as Mel Gibson’s ego due to vehicle wear and tear and increased fuel costs – not to mention the risk of accidents and subsequent higher insurance premiums. 

The trick, of course, is having a way to spot and stop these bad driving habits before they turn into something really bad. 

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Having a way to track and manage driver behavior can significantly affect the way people drive and improve fuel economy. Check out these numbers from a

United States Department of Transportation study on the impact of using a telematics system to monitor long-haul truck drivers: 

  • Unsafe events defined as sudden acceleration, hard braking and sudden lane changes decreased by almost 50% across both day cab and sleeper cab groups. 
  • Distances driven at speeds more than 65 miles per hour decreased by more than 33% for day cabs and 42% for the sleeper cab groups. 
  • Fuel economy improved by 5 and 9%, respectively, for sleeper cab and day cab groups.

If drivers are alerted via a tracking system that they are speeding, braking hard, accelerating too fast or taking a corner too sharply, it can help them to adjust their behavior, lowering the chance of accidents and fines for speeding as well as possibly even keeping insurance costs down – many companies give a discount on liability premiums if they know their customers use GPS tracking systems to improve driver safety. 

And when they drive more slowly and less aggressively, this reduces wear and tear on the vehicle, decreasing the need for repairs and extending vehicle life, and also uses less fuel – all of which reduce overall operating costs. 

Some people, like Mel Gibson a few years ago, don’t seem to know how to get out of their own way. Your drivers, however, likely aren’t driving poorly because they are reckless jerks – it may simply be that they are trying to get to the job site more quickly. A little tap on the wrist from a tracking system can remind them that safety and the rules of the road are just as important as taking care of job orders – and keep them from making headlines for the wrong reasons.

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