Safety Tips

Hard Acceleration and Braking

Scot Barney
5 minutes

Hard Acceleration and Braking

I’m sure every professional driver has had unexpected events that had to be handled in a less than controlled manner. Hard braking, sudden acceleration, and rapid lane changes can cause hazardous conditions for others on the road with us. It is hard to overstate the importance of situational awareness when operating a tractor trailer. Even with all the technology that we have at our disposal in modern trucks, reaction time is still our most valuable asset. A highly experienced, veteran driver can still get caught slipping. Whether something falls onto the floor, they spend a second too long switching the radio, gauging the size of that mule deer up on the hill, adjusting navigation, or watching a hawk grab itself a chipmunk for dinner, having no choice but to react to unforeseen circumstances, with inadequate time and space to do so safely, is not enjoyable for anyone.

When we talk about hard acceleration and braking, it’s not just about the wear on our rigs or the occasional smell of hot brakes that makes us think of a metal shop. It's a topic that stretches further, touching on environmental concerns and the nitty-gritty of vehicle maintenance. Stepping hard on the gas increases harmful emissions and that is a fact that doesn't sit well with the green side of our business. Constant hard braking takes a toll on brakes, tires, and more, not just adding to maintenance costs but also diminishing the safety of our vehicles. This isn’t just about keeping the wheels turning; it’s about ensuring that every journey is as safe as the last.

But here’s the kicker: these driving patterns don’t just affect our trucks and the air we breathe. They also play a big part in how we’re viewed under the watchful eyes of the FMCSA’s CSA program. Aggressive driving behaviors, including hard braking, can ding our safety scores, leading to more than just a slap on the wrist, they create actual operational headaches.

The good news? Modern tech is giving us a helping hand. Telematics systems, equipped with all those clever sensors and GPS trackers, are keeping an eye on driving behaviors, flagging those hard brakes and rapid accelerations. This isn’t about big brother watching; it’s about getting real-time insights that help us tweak our driving habits for the better. Here at LGT, our Sudden Deceleration threshold is slowing the truck more than 9.5 mph a second when traveling over 20 mph

Training is key too. It’s not just about knowing how to handle a big rig; it’s about understanding the subtleties of driving that keep us, and those around us, safe. After all, smooth driving is not just easy on the truck; it’s easy on the wallet too, especially when it comes to fuel consumption.

Honestly, patience might be a more important attribute than situational awareness for a professional truck driver. Road rage leads to bad decision making. It took quite a few years to realize that everyone out on the road are all in it together. The people who are most important to you in life sometimes rely on the patience and situational awareness of other drivers out there. We should try to protect the safety of everyone that we encounter with the understanding that they are the most important person in someone’s life.

· Wear and Tear: Frequent hard braking leads to significant wear on brakes and tires, increasing maintenance costs and reducing vehicle safety.

· Compliance Scores: Aggressive driving behaviors like hard braking negatively affect FMCSA’s CSA safety scores, potentially leading to operational challenges and penalties.

· Telematics: Modern telematics systems help monitor driving behaviors, providing real-time data to improve driving habits and safety. At LGT, slowing the truck more than 9.5 mph a second when traveling over 20 mph will record a Sudden Deceleration event.

· Training: Driver education is crucial for safer driving practices, reducing the likelihood of hard braking and aggressive driving.

· Fuel Consumption: Smoother driving techniques can reduce fuel usage, leading to cost savings.

· Weather: Different weather conditions require specific driving strategies to maintain safety.

· Environmental Impact: Hard acceleration increases harmful emissions, raising environmental concerns.

· Safety: The friction from hard braking causes heat to build up in the brake parts, rims and suspension parts and, even if there is no flame, the heat can be enough to cause a tire or airbag to burst.

· Attention: Try to be conscious of your level of awareness and minimize the distractions competing for your attention while you’re driving.

· Patience: If you catch yourself needing to brake hard or make a lot of quick maneuvers maybe it’s time for a rest break.

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