We often see advertising campaigns highlighting the dangers of distracted driving, speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But what about aggressive driving? It can be just as lethal, but unfortunately it’s difficult to legislate against (we don’t have ‘anger cams’ yet) and where exactly do you draw the line, since we all experience some level of road rage from time to time?

So is aggressive driving a problem, how is it impacting on your business, and what can you do about it?

Aggressive driving — Is it a problem?

Some might say there’s no harm in venting while driving — “let it out, it’s bad for your health to bottle it up”. And to be fair there’s no shortage of driving events that can trigger an instant attack of road rage. Peak-hour congestion, tailgaters, slow drivers, incorrect use of indicators, cellphone use, blocking intersections… the list goes on and on.

So it’s not surprising that as a nation of drivers we are collectively getting angrier. Most of us have ways of keeping our anger in check, so it doesn’t become a problem. But for some, that anger is expressed through their driving, often with dangerous consequences.

In one study, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that at least 1,500 people are injured or killed as a direct result of aggressive driving every year.

If you’ve ever been the victim of road rage then no doubt you would agree that aggressive driving is not only a problem in society, but one that’s getting worse.

Are businesses affected by aggressive driving?

As an employer with mobile employees that use company vehicles as part of their job, it’s worth considering the detrimental effects that aggressive driving could be having on your business:

  1. Increased costs — Aggressive driving is often wasteful. Heavy acceleration, braking and swerving often increase the amount of gas burned, resulting in poor fuel economy. One study conducted by an Australian university found that fuel economy was improved by around 27 percent when drivers employed ‘smooth driving’ techniques. Multiply that across an entire fleet and it’s easy to see how aggressive driving can quickly cause fuel costs to balloon.
  2. Increased accident/injury risk — When a driver is agitated, speeding, tailgating or reacting aggressively to traffic conditions, their chances of causing an accident are greatly increased.
  3. Increased public liability — Unfortunately employers bear some responsibility for the actions of their employees. Laws around corporate manslaughter and employer responsibility can be a complex legal minefield. If your employees are driving aggressively they only increase your exposure and the possibility of being involved in a costly lawsuit.
  4. Increased wear and tear — Driving a vehicle hard not only burns more fuel, but also creates excessive wear on parts such as brake pads and tires, increasing the amount of maintenance downtime for the vehicle — a significant opportunity cost for any business.

As a business owner you might agree that aggressive driving is a problem, but you might also think that because it’s impossible to detect there’s no point trying to do anything about it. That’s where fleet management software can help.

Aggressive driving — Can it be measured?

Telogis Fleet is designed to improve your fleet’s safety and minimize accidents. One way it does this is by using a GPS unit built into your fleet vehicle to record speed, location and direction. What’s more, using a sensitive accelerometer it can detect symptoms of aggressive driving including:

  • Hard braking
  • Hard acceleration
  • Swerving

Incidents can be reported in real time or collated as part of an overall fleet, crew or driver regular reporting system.The frequency of these events will be a significant clue in determining whether or not aggressive driving is occurring in your fleet. Of course, it should be noted that there can be legitimate reasons for any of these events, so make sure it isn’t used as the only evidence.

Aggressive driving — What can you do about it?

If you become aware of a trend of aggressive driving in your fleet then you’ve taken a major step forward: many fleets have no idea that their vehicles are being driven harshly.

The key to tackling the problem may involve stepping back and understanding the wider culture of your organization. Coming down on a single driver for a high number of aggressive driving incidents may be a knee-jerk reaction to what could be a bigger problem including overworked or stressed employees.

If stress in the workplace is a problem, look for ways to remedy it. Create incentives to encourage smooth driving that reward good drivers. Provide drivers with practical ways to deal with frustration on the road.

But before you can provide the cure, you first need to use your telematics software to make an accurate diagnosis. Knowledge is the first step towards making sure that your fleet doesn’t suffer from the hurt, pain, and cost of aggressive driving.