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Semi-truck stopping distances much longer than that of cars


Most, if not all, Massachusetts motorists know that they should not follow the vehicle in front of them too closely. The reason is so that the motorist following the vehicle can safely slow down and stop, if needed, without slamming into the vehicle in front. However, though many motorists may have a general feel for how long it can take for a vehicle to slow down or stop, a trucker may have difficulty gauging this. When they fail to do so accurately, a serious tractor trailer crash can occur that can leave other people severely hurt.

Whereas a car is typically between 12 and 18 feet long and weighs between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds, a semi-truck can be up to 65 feet long and weigh up to 80,000 pounds. These are drastic differences that have an enormous effect on stopping distances. For example, the average car traveling at 65 miles per hour under ideal road conditions could stop in about the length of a football field. A typical semi-truck traveling at the same speed and under the same conditions, however, will need about twice the distance to stop.

Though perception and reaction time may be similar for drivers of both noncommercial vehicles and semi-trucks, in addition to increased weight and length, semi-trucks often also have brake lag to contend with. Brake lag is the time it takes for a truck's brake's to receive the brake signal. This typically takes less than a second, but that short amount of time could mean the difference between safely stopping and causing a tragic, perhaps even fatal accident.

Since big rigs have a much longer stopping distance, truckers should be sure to follow all safety regulations and take extra precautions to ensure the safety of those around them. Those who are hurt in a collision by a trucker who is speeding, following too closely, or otherwise negligent, may be able to find a fair resolution by pursuing a legal claim.

Source: UDOT, "Trucks Need More Time to Stop," accessed on May 3, 2015

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