The legend has it that once upon a time one man was sitting under a tree minding his own business, when suddenly an apple fell on his head. Thanks to that apple, humanity learned about the existence of gravitational force or G-force. In short:
The gravitational force equivalent or G-force is a measurement of the type of force per unit mass, usually acceleration, that causes a perception of weight. A G-force of 1g is equal to the conventional value of gravitational acceleration on Earth which amounts to 9.8 m/s2 (meter per second squared).
In other words, it is the force a person (driver, in our case) can experience when they’re accelerating or braking. This may feel like:
- being pushed back into their seat while accelerating
- being pulled forward while braking
The larger the mass of the object, the more G-force is involved in its acceleration and braking, which is especially noticeable when operating large commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).
Now, for the million dollar question:
Why should a fleet manager care about gravitational force?
While you certainly don’t need to know the definition by heart, you should understand the role of G-force in driving and monitoring your drivers’ aggressive habits while operating your company’s vehicles. Typically, this refers to actions taken by the driver that make the vehicle suddenly change its speed, including:
- harsh braking
- rapid acceleration
Harsh or hard braking happens when your driver uses more force than required to halt the vehicle. Stopping the vehicle this way involves a significant amount of G-force and the driver will feel it pushing them into their seat. Sometimes this action may happen due to unforeseen circumstances, like when they’re trying to prevent a collision or get out of the way of a collision that has just happened. However, harsh braking most frequently happens when the driver isn’t paying attention to the traffic ahead of them and has to suddenly brake to avoid other traffic participants.
Such behavior is especially dangerous when massive cargo trucks are involved as this means the driver may be operating a vehicle weighing up to 40 metric tons or 80,000 pounds. Such a mammoth can’t be unexpectedly stopped without endangering the driver and everyone else around. In fact, it may take several seconds and a distance of a few hundred feet for it to stop (depending on the speed of the vehicle) and a lot can happen in that time and over such a distance.
Harsh braking by your driver may also cause them to be rear-ended by a driver behind them. You never know if whoever is behind you is keeping their distance, paying close attention to what you’re doing, has fast enough reflexes to avoid you, or good enough brakes and tires to suddenly stop.
In addition to being dangerous, just imagine how much damage happens to the poor vehicle’s tires (ever heard of the expression ‘burning rubber’?) and brakes (due to overheating) each time the driver aggressively hits the brake pedal. This will inevitably lead to more work for you, as you’ll need to schedule maintenance more often, allocate more resources from the fleet budget for replacement parts (and maintenance), and deal with vehicle downtime and missed deliveries whenever it has to be taken off the road for repairs.
When the driver applies more pressure than necessary to the vehicle’s gas pedal to accelerate its speed, we’re talking about another aggressive driving habit – rapid or harsh acceleration. In those moments, they will feel a strong G-force pulling them toward the vehicle’s dashboard. Your driver may be doing this because they want to hurry through an intersection before the traffic light turns red or they’ve been waiting at a traffic light and hit the pedal so they could get a head start and continue driving as quickly as possible.
Being in a hurry is not an excuse for such behavior, especially considering the risks. Rapid acceleration is a huge safety risk as speeding through intersections can cause vehicle collisions – you never know whether another driver is attempting the same risky maneuver. As a result, your driver may get hurt, lose the cargo, or destroy the vehicle.
On top of that, accidents caused by your driver behaving this way may lead to liability lawsuits, traffic penalties, lowered CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score, and loss of reputation.
Harsh accelerating is also responsible for producing more greenhouse gasses and increasing your fleet’s maintenance costs due to vehicle wear and tear, as well as hiking its fuel costs because the vehicle’s throttle is open more than required, wasting fuel in the process.
All this means you’re in for a lot of headache, being the person in charge of your company’s fleet and drivers.
Cut costs and save lives by monitoring aggressive driving habits
To deal with aggressive driving, you’ll need to start monitoring your drivers’ behavior on the road so you could identify the patterns. Once you do, you’ll realize that this helps:
- eradicate causes of aggressive driving
- reduce collisions
- lower maintenance costs
- prevent fuel wasting
- improve your CSA score
- decrease your fleet’s environmental footprint
Eradicating causes of aggressive driving
Knowing when, how often, and which particular drivers commit these driving sins will help you address the core reasons as to why they occur. Are they stressed out or tired? Is something drawing their attention away from driving? Do they have problems meeting their deadlines? Are the routes they’re taking inefficient? Are they wasting time on unnecessary paperwork?
You can talk to them or have them fill a questionnaire. And who knows, maybe by trying to solve the problem of aggressive driving you also manage to deal with other issues that might be affecting your drivers’ performance and job satisfaction. Everyone wins!
Harsh braking could be a sign that your driver isn’t 100% focused on the traffic flow so they try to compensate with aggressive braking. Just like rapid acceleration when rushing through intersections, this increases the risk of collisions, so monitoring such behavior allows you to bring it to their attention (no pun intended).
As a result, you’ll be greatly reducing the risk of collisions due to driver inattentiveness, contributing to the general culture of safety and complementing your other methods of collision prevention.
Lowering maintenance costs
Maintaining your fleet’s vehicles in the best possible operating condition can be expensive in itself, let alone with the wear and tear to the components affected by harsh braking and rapid acceleration.
Monitoring and eliminating these harmful habits will leave a positive mark on your fleet’s budget, as well as your own free time now that you no longer need to schedule more maintenance than absolutely necessary.
Preventing fuel wasting
Understanding which of your drivers are responsible for rapid acceleration, harsh braking events and the resulting fuel wasting will allow you to have a serious talk with them and rectify the behavior. As a result, you will not only put a stop to fuel wasting, but also save yourself the trouble of having to justify the spiraling fuel costs to the company’s leadership.
Improving your CSA score
Every American fleet manager is familiar with the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This body of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) implements a safety program for commercial motor carriers called Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA). Its aim is to enforce road safety through collecting data from roadside inspections, investigations and reports on accidents, and other sources of information.
The carriers whose drivers are found to be committing more traffic offenses and dangerous driving are given a poor CSA rating. This implies all sorts of negative consequences with it – loss of profits, court penalties, diminished reputation, you name it.
Decreasing your fleet’s environmental footprint
By monitoring and ending behaviors that result in the release of harmful gasses, you will reduce the carbon footprint of your fleet, doing your part in protecting our environment. After all, the modern age requires that we all contribute to this important endeavor in any way we can.
Using G-force to monitor driving events
There are ways in which fleet management platforms, relying on G-force measurements, can help you achieve all these positive results and much, much more. These include:
Recording harsh braking and acceleration
Fleet management platforms like Safe Drive Systems use G-force sensors to identify the above-mentioned aggressive driving patterns, allowing you to implement efficient methods to put a stop to them.
Our radar-based collision prevention system works by actively monitoring and recording the vehicle’s G-force in real-time, allowing you to create reports on all aggressive driving events for detailed analysis. These reports can be exported in PDF, HTML, CSV, XML, or Excel format.
Let’s say you want to create a report. Here’s how the process goes with Safe Drive Systems:
- You log into the fleet management dashboard.
- Select Available Reports and choose Events.
- In the Event types dropdown menu, select events you want to receive your report on, such as Harsh Acceleration Sensor Triggered, Harsh Braking Sensor Triggered, and so on.
- Select date, either among predefined periods (4 weeks, 3 months, etc.) or set your own start and end date.
- Choose in which format you want the report to be exported.
- Select columns – Date \ Time, Lat, Long, Event Name, Engine Status, Address, and/or Speed.
- Select Generate to create the report immediately or Schedule to run the report on a daily, weekly, monthly, or one-time basis.
No matter how hard you and your drivers try to avoid them, it is the sad truth that collisions might still happen. G-force is useful in not only detecting these unfortunate events, but also in determining why and how they took place, possibly exonerating your drivers (unless they were harsh braking or accelerating).
Safe Drive Systems’ platform offers detailed accident reports where you’ll find a large body of detailed information about:
- impact and damage (part of the vehicle that was hit and the gravitational force of the impact)
- speed and acceleration (shown on a graph)
- the driver (name, license type, 3-month safety score, and other accidents they were involved in)
- the vehicle (license plate number, vehicle type, manufacture, and model, how long it’s been in service, how many miles it has driven, as well as any pre- and post-diagnostic codes/lamp events)
- accident location (shown on a map via GPS vehicle tracking option)
- other relevant data like the event duration, severity, and vehicle status (parking/driving)
As you can see, measuring G-force is especially important when obtaining and presenting information in the accident report’s Impact & Damage section, as well as the Speed & Acceleration Graph.
The Impact & Damage section shows the precise amount of G at the moment of the accident event, as well as where precisely the vehicle was hit. This may tell you if your vehicle has hit another object or if your vehicle was hit by another, which might end up being an important piece of evidence in any court or insurance procedures.
The Speed & Acceleration Graph will give you a visual representation of the speed before and after the event. This will allow you to see if your driver had made any speed violations or harsh accelerations that may have caused the accident. If no improper driving is found, this information may well be one of the things that will exonerate your driver.
May the G-force be with you
Thanks to the hardware installed inside the vehicles and connected with our software, Safe Drive Systems measures your vehicles’ G-force, showing you which ones are crossing the threshold with forceful braking and acceleration. In turn, this allows you to take measures to eliminate these behaviors.
These are just some of the things that our comprehensive fleet management platform can do for you. By combining multiple areas – AI cloud data, Electronic Logging Device (ELD), Telematics, real-time dash cam, and a radar-based collision prevention unit, it also allows you to:
- plan out the fastest routes
- automate vehicle inspections and maintenance
- monitor your fleet’s whereabouts through vehicle tracking
- observe fuel usage, engine hours, and vehicle mileage
- eliminate distracted driving
- comply with the regulations
- prevent collisions
If you’re ready to take advantage of the technological advancements in the world of fleet management and put a stop to poor driving habits in your fleet (and do so much more), then you’ve arrived at the right place. Simply schedule an appointment and one of our expert advisors will give you a recommendation for your fleet.