Cars braking in traffic.

How to Avoid Hard Braking

Updated September 5, 2021 . AmFam Team

Different driving behaviors factor into the auto insurance discount you can receive through DriveMyWay.* One of these is hard braking, a dangerous behavior that can lead to car accidents. Let’s look at what hard braking is and how you can avoid it.

Person driving on a busy road on a sunny day.

What is hard braking?

DriveMyWay defines hard braking as slowing down more than 6.5 miles per hour in one second. That means if you are driving 25 miles per hour on a residential road, it should take you about four seconds to come to a complete stop after you start applying the brakes.

Driver sitting with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on her forehead.

Why Hard Braking Can Be Dangerous

Hard braking can be a problem for you and your vehicle for multiple reasons. Here are some hidden costs and risks that can occur with hard braking.

Person on the phone while looking at his rear-ended vehicle in the background.

Increases Accident Risk

Data from the DriveMyWay program shows that drivers with more hard brakes have a greater risk of getting in an accident. We all have to suddenly brake when someone cuts us off or an animal darts in front of our car, but a pattern of hard braking often indicates a pattern of tailgating or distracted driving.

May Signal Aggressive Driving

Heavy braking may be a sign of an aggressive driver, too. Aggressive driving behaviors like tailgating, risky lane changes and speeding are more likely if you are a hard braker — and it all leads to more accident risk.

Car tires being filled.

It’s Tough on Your Car

Consistent hard braking wears out parts like brakes and tires faster than usual and can damage or warp key components. Your vehicle also won’t perform as well, as heavy braking can have a negative impact on brake and tire performance.

May Reduce Your DriveMyWay Discount

By frequently hard braking, your DriveMyWay discount may decrease. While it’s only one of the driving behaviors that determines your discount, hard braking as little as possible can give you a shot at the highest discount.*

Early evening traffic.

How to Prevent Hard Braking

The DriveMyWay app shows you how frequently you hard brake compared to an average driver in the program. If this value is higher than you would like, don’t worry. There are things you can do to reduce your hard braking.

Follow the Three-Second Rule

Watch the car in front of you. When they pass a landmark like a road sign, count how long it takes for you to pass that landmark. Leaving a three-second gap is best when driving conditions and visibility are good. Leave more room when conditions are bad.

Couple having fun and laughing while driving.

Take a Deep Breath and Relax

Self-care and relaxation techniques can help you remain calm and potentially avoid dangerous driving behavior like road rage and hard braking.

Give Yourself More Time and Slow Down

If you’re running late, dangerous driving behavior like speeding or hard braking may be more likely to occur. Do your best to leave early enough so you’re not stressed to get to your destination on time.

Person on phone while driving.

Reduce Distraction

Remember, distracted driving is dangerous driving. Keep yourself and others safe by resisting the urge to text or use your phone while driving. With DriveMyWay, you’ll earn a greater discount on your car insurance when you drive safely, too.*

Drive Defensively

Stay alert and watch what other drivers are doing so you can react to dangerous situations earlier and avoid slamming on the brakes. Learn more about how to become a defensive driver.

Happy mother and daughter on a drive on a sunny day.

Hard Brake Less and Save

By keeping these strategies in mind, hard braking will be less likely to occur — and thanks to DriveMyWay — you could save more on your auto premium as well.* For more safe driving tips like how to drive safely in all seasons, visit our safe driving resource hub.

This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available. We do not make any guarantees or promise any results based on this information.

*Rate will vary based on driving behavior. Unsafe driving behaviors may increase your rate. Product eligibility will vary by state, vehicle type, policy form and company underwriting the auto policy. Some restrictions may apply. The DriveMyWay rate factor applies only to these coverages, which are typical for most auto policies: bodily injury liability, property damage liability, collision and comprehensive, medical expense, and personal injury protection. Additionally, the rate factor does not apply to fixed fees that are part of the policy. To refresh your understanding of coverages, visit the Car Insurance Coverage page. Customer driving behaviors from the KnowYourDrive program were used to inform rate structure. Adding or removing drivers from a policy may impact the overall score. Households where not all eligible participants on the policy are enrolled will receive a 5% introductory discount. If you unenroll drivers after the 100-day trial period ends, we’ll still use their driving behavior at the time of unenrollment when calculating your rate.

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