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How Misjudging Stopping Distance Can Cause Truck Accidents

Tractor-trailers, semi’s, construction vehicles, and 18-wheelers often outweigh other vehicles by thousands of pounds. Due to their size and weight, it can take a commercial vehicle a considerably longer distance to bring their vehicle to a complete stop. However, not every situation on the road affords truck drivers with all of the space that they need to stop, this is why rear-end accidents and accidents attributed to lengthy stopping distances have been the reason behind many truck accidents.

If you were rear-ended by a truck, tractor-trailer, or another commercial vehicle, then do not wait to contact an attorney today.  The attorneys of The Truck Accident Team bring decades of combined experience representing truck accident victims. If you or someone you know has been rear-ended by a truck or other tractor trailer then contact us today.

The Importance of Stopping Distances

According to the National Safety Councils’ Professional Truck Driver Defensive Driving Course if a truck driver wants to bring their vehicle to a complete stop while they are traveling a mere 30 miles an hour they will need at least 100 hundred feet.  This distance is also assuming that the road and driving conditions are as close to perfect as can be.

Despite this number, a driver cannot simply guess how long it will take their vehicle to stop because the formula for determining stopping distance is not as simple as you might think. For example, according to the National Safety Council’s program if a driver is moving at 60 miles an hour it will take an estimated 425 feet to bring their vehicle to a complete stop.  As you can see, despite the truck traveling double the speed as the first example, it requires over five times the distance to come to a stop. This indicates that it is not merely the speed that a truck is driving that determines how long it takes for a truck to come to a complete stop.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards currently require that all medium and heavy-duty vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds to 26,000 pounds be able to stop on a high-coefficient of friction pavement in a certain distance when traveling at 60 miles an hour. Currently the stopping distance requirements for Medium and Heavy Duty vehicles is set at:

  • Buses – 280 feet stopping distance from 60 miles an hour
  • Single Unit Trucks – 335 feet stopping distance from 60 miles an hour
  • Trucks with a weight between 8,000 and 9,999 pounds – 242 feet stopping distance from 60 miles an hour
  • Trucks with a weight in excess of 10,000 pounds – feet stopping distance from 60 miles an hour

This makes it clear that bringing a vehicle to a complete stop can take much longer than a standard vehicle, yet a major problem with presenting these figures is that this assumes near perfect driving conditions.

Factors that can increase stopping distances

Tractor trailers and other large trucks require a more complicated and sophisticated braking system than standard passenger vehicles. Despite much larger brakes, it can still take a truck several football fields to come to a complete stop. While there are federal guidelines that require trucks to meet certain braking requirements, these distances are measured under nearly ideal conditions with a road that has a high amount of friction. However, as every driver knows no two roads are the same, which means that trucks will not always be on a road that has a high coefficient of friction. In addition, there are many other factors that can increase the length of time and distance it will require for a truck to come to a complete stop.

  • Speed – Speed is one of the most important factors in measuring how long it will take for a truck to come to a complete stop. Unfortunately, it is impossible to measure speed in relation to braking distance in a linear line, meaning that while it may take 100 feet to bring a truck to a stop at 30 miles an hour it can take up to 525 feet to bring the same truck to a complete stop from 60 miles an hour. However, while simple math cannot be used to determine how long it will take to stop, it does demonstrate that the faster a driver is going when they hit their brakes, the longer it will take to stop.
  • Reaction time – You know as a driver you need to pay attention to the road in front of you. This is even more true for truck drivers. The sooner a driver notices that they need to stop their vehicle the sooner they can begin to apply the brakes. When you take into account the already long distance it can take to bring a truck to a stop, a driver’s reaction time is critical.
  • Road conditions – One of the major flaws in taking the federal stopping distances on their face is that these distances were determined and are measured under nearly perfect conditions. The conditions on the road can greatly affect how long it may take for a truck to come to a complete stop.
  • Weather conditions – The weather is also a major factor when it comes to determining how long it will take to bring a truck to a complete stop. It may take nearly double the length of time and distance for a truck to come to a complete stop when the roads are wet with rain, or slick with ice and snow.

Trust Our Truck Accident Attorneys to Fight for You

Truck accidents have devastating consequences – even more so when trucking companies and their drivers injure or kill innocent victims due to misconduct. Because trucking and insurance companies are often more focused on profitability and their corporate interests than innocent victims, it is critical that you find experienced legal counsel with the knowledge and resources to fight for you as soon as possible. Call our truck accident attorneys at (215) 709-6940 or contact us online.

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