Semi-Trucks in Your Rearview

Semi-Trucks in Your Rearview

A useful safety rule for all drivers: semi-trucks should never loom large in your rearview mirror. 

Semi-trucks require roughly twice as much stopping distance than the average passenger vehicle.  At highway speeds, you may be able to come to a complete stop to avoid obstacles 100 yards in front of you.  The semi-truck in your rearview simply cannot.

Compare the average weight of a typical passenger vehicle, around 4,000 pounds, to that of a tractor-trailer vehicle.  Empty semi-trucks average around 35,000 and are limited to a maximum loaded weight of 80,000 pounds under federal law.  The sheer mass disparity requires semi-trucks to leave twice as much stopping distance in front of them to avoid preventable crashes.

Even in ideal road conditions, a semi-truck needs at least 530 feet to come to a stop at speeds exceeding 65 mph.  Moreover, truck drivers are more likely to experience regular driving fatigue and exhibit delayed reactions to emergent traffic conditions. 

Driver fatigue is another major cause of trucking crashes. Truck operators are permitted by federal regulation to remain on the road for 8 hours without stopping, including a maximum of 14 hours on-duty per day.  You can imagine how driving such lengths consecutively can impact the reaction time of even the most attentive driver.  

In heavy traffic, you may not always have the option, but you should try and take initiative where a truck driver fails to follow the rules.  Don’t let them linger in your rearview.  Let them pass and leave them be.