Stopping Distance Can Be a Key Factor in a Tractor-Trailer Crash

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that semi-trucks are larger and heavier than other vehicles on the road. A fully-loaded truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds compared to the 4,000 pounds that a passenger vehicle may weigh. When these massive vehicles are negligently driven on Maryland roads they can cause extensive devastation, serious injuries and death. There are many causes of truck accidents, including trucker fatigue, intoxication, and distraction. To help illustrate why even a moment of distraction can pose a danger, let us look at the distances needed for semi-trucks and cars to come to a safe stop.

There are many factors that play into stopping distance. Perception distance, reaction time, and braking distance are the key components. Perception distance refers to the distance a vehicle travels while a driver perceives a situation that requires him or her to slow the vehicle. Reaction time, of course, is the time it takes a motorist to take action once danger is observed. Braking distance is the distance a vehicle travels while its brakes are applied.

While traveling at 65 miles per hour, an average car will need approximately 316 feet to come to a complete stop. A semi-truck, on the other hand, will need about 525 feet. The difference is 209 feet, or about two-thirds the length of a football field. The difference is made up entirely of braking distance.

So what does this mean? It means that truckers need to be sober, alert, and attentive while behind the wheel. Any hesitation caused by negligence, intoxication or distraction can lead to an even longer stopping distance, increasing the risk of a serious truck accident. Also, truckers should not follow other vehicles too closely, as they may not have adequate room to safely stop, if needed. When a truck accident is caused by a trucker’s negligence, legal action may be justified in an attempt to recover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Source: UDOT, “Trucks Need More Time to Stop,” accessed on Dec. 18, 2016