Are your hard-brakers also at the highest risk for violations?

Data from your electronic logging device (ELD) can show much more than just your hours-of-service (HOS) violations and trends.

Some ELDs track the speed of your commercial motor vehicle, including deceleration. Deceleration is measured in how many miles per hour (mph) are lost in a second. A sudden drop in speed identifies a driver who is hitting the brakes hard, and keeping an eye on this metric can give you a wealth of valuable knowledge.

Reasons for hard braking

Hard braking is often the result of risky driving behaviors, fatigue, or rushing due to exceeding HOS limits.

Perhaps not surprisingly, aggregate data from J. J. Keller Encompass® users show a correlation between HOS violations and hard-braking incidents. Generally speaking, violations rose and fell proportionally with hard braking incidents (11 mph or greater per second) from one month to the next.

JJ Keller ELD Violations by Month Data

JJ Keller ELD Deceleration Count by Month Data

Creating your safety standard

When setting up a program that uses ELD data to identify hard-braking occurrences, you must:

  • Set your thresholds. Typically, when a program is first launched, the threshold is high to identify the most serious offenders. To begin with a lower mph threshold is often unmanageable (too many drivers and too many occurrences to sift through). You continue to reduce the mph per threshold as the program evolves to bring in moderate offenders, since previously identified drivers should be dropping off as they change behaviors due to corrective actions. You eventually arrive at your permanent threshold after, for example, two transitional thresholds (e.g., 12 to 11 to 10 mph or greater).
  • Create policies. Drivers need to know your expectations of them, including your mph threshold and frequency of occurrences that trigger corrective actions. The policy should also include the types of corrective actions (e.g., coaching, training, suspension, termination).

In addition, as new drivers are onboarded, they must understand what you are measuring and what to expect.

J. J. Keller’s® ELD data has identified 11 mph per second as the most common deceleration rate for hard-brake incidents:

JJ Keller ELD Deceleration Curve Data

Of course, not all hard braking suggest risky driving. A driver who is driving defensively may occasionally need to brake hard to avoid a crash.

When examining a driver’s hard-braking data, you should look at:

  • Time, location, and details of the event. Examples of reasons a driver may be justified in braking hard include driving in a metro area during rush hour or driving in a rural area and avoiding an animal strike.
  • Patterns that show a problem. If the average driver has, for instance, one to two hard-braking events per month, a serious offender in need of corrective action might be someone with three to four per week. Your policy will define what a pattern is.
  • Whether your internal processes are at fault. Consider whether your carrier is putting the driver in situations that lead to hard braking, such as scheduling unrealistic dispatches and keeping appointment times even if circumstances change.

Corrective actions

A progressive discipline policy is a common way of handling hard-braking incidents. Drivers who are within the predetermined threshold might start with coaching in hopes of correcting the bad behavior. If the behavior is not corrected, you need to determine what other actions (retraining, suspension, termination) you need to take under your policy.

About the author
Kathy Close - Transportation Editor

Kathy provides regulatory support for a variety of products; her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, driver qualification, and the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement model.

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