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5 Braking Best Practices Your Fleet Drivers Should Know


Braking and accelerating are two important skills for every driver to master. While it seems like a simple concept, many drivers get into the habit of braking and accelerating too aggressively, which not only affects safety but can also shorten the life of the brake assembly. Brake systems are made up of several components that each play a role in the process of stopping a vehicle. For example, brake pads (in disc brake systems) or shoes (in drum brake systems) create friction to slow the vehicle. While it’s normal for these brake parts to wear out over time, certain braking habits can cause them to wear out even faster.


Luckily, driver training can help your fleet drivers recognize their habits and give them the context needed to understand why safe braking is so important. Make sure your drivers are following these five best practices to prolong brake life, minimize vehicle downtime, and contribute to overall fleet efficiency.


1.  Avoid Activating the ABS

The Anti-Lock Brake System is a safety feature that prevents the wheels from locking up and sending the vehicle into a skid. While it’s an important system, it’s only there for extreme circumstances where slamming on the brakes is the only option. Aggressive braking can activate the ABS unnecessarily and cause the brakes to wear out prematurely. Drivers should learn to brake effectively without using the ABS unless absolutely necessary.

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2.  Use Progressive Braking

Progressive braking uses variable brake force to slow the vehicle gradually, which helps cut down on excessive brake pad wear. Teach your drivers these steps for practicing progressive braking:

  • Plant the heel of your right foot on the floor so the ball of your foot reaches the center of the brake pedal comfortably.
  • To apply pressure to the brake pedal, keep most of your foot’s weight resting on the floor and pivot your foot forward.
  • Gently apply more pressure until you feel resistance from the brakes engaging, and your vehicle begins to slow gradually.
  • Continue increasing the pressure gently to slow or stop the vehicle as needed.
  • Just before coming to a complete stop, ease off the brake pedal slightly to prevent the vehicle from bouncing back too hard.


3.  Try Coasting and Brake Hovering

Experienced drivers know that braking isn’t the only way to slow down a vehicle. Taking your foot off the gas also has a gradual slow-down effect that makes sense in certain situations. If you have time, instead of using the brakes, let off the gas to allow the vehicle to slow down naturally before gently applying the brakes to come to a stop. Pay attention to the traffic ahead and the brake lights for an indication you need to start slowing down. While you coast, make sure to keep your foot hovering over the brake pedal in case you need to stop quickly.


4.  Practice Defensive Driving

Other drivers can be unpredictable at times, so it’s important your drivers are ready for anything. Defensive driving can help ensure there’s enough time to react to anything out of the ordinary and keep the brakes in good condition for longer. Make sure your drivers stay vigilant and aren’t relying on hard, last-minute braking when something unexpected happens. Here are a few defensive driving basics every driver should keep in mind:

  • Avoid distractions. Put the phone on silent and out of reach and keep the radio volume on low.
  • Always use signals and check blind spots when turning and changing lanes.
  • Give other drivers a wide birth and maintain a proper following distance.
  • Follow safe braking guidelines.
  • Adhere to the speed limits.
  • Adjust driving for wet, icy, or snowy road conditions.
  • Think ahead and pay attention to the flow of traffic several vehicles ahead.  


5.  Report Any Brake Issues

Even with perfect use, brake components will eventually need to be replaced. Make sure your drivers are aware of the subtle signs of brake trouble and that fleet maintenance depends on promptly reporting any issues. Common signs of failure can include:

  • A soft or squishy brake pedal
  • Leaky brake fluid
  • Illuminated brake warning light
  • Longer stopping distance
  • Vehicle pulling to one side
  • Squealing noise
  • Brake pedal vibrations

How Firestone Direct Can Help

Following braking best practices can help brake components last as long as possible, but eventually, they’ll need to be replaced for safety reasons. Firestone Direct can conduct regular brake checks to monitor the status of the brakes, catch any issues early and give you the heads up if a certain vehicle seems to be wearing down faster than the others. Schedule a mobile appointment for brake service and our technicians will come to you to complete an inspection and brake component replacements.  

In addition to brake service appointments to inspect and replace brake pads and rotors, Firestone Direct can also help you track the breaking habits of your drivers. Our Azuga platform is a telematics system that can be installed in your fleet vehicles to keep track of regular maintenance and service intervals. It can also alert you to certain driving habits that may be impacting driver safety and brake life.

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Firestone Direct mobile mechanics have everything they need to complete your fleet service on-site wherever you are, and get you back on the road. Click Get Started to contact our dedicated Fleet Support team today!