Stopping Distance and Commercial Trucks

One of the biggest threats that a tractor-trailer poses to other drivers on the road is when slowed or stopped traffic requires a large truck to stop quickly. The length and weight of these vehicles increases stopping distance tremendously, which is why there are many stories about a truck that comes around a bend to encounter stopped traffic and rear-ends the vehicle in front of it because it is unable to stop in time.

Longer Stopping Distances Compared to Passenger Vehicles

An average passenger vehicle that is traveling at 60 miles per hour (mph) requires around 150 feet to come to a full stop after the driver first realizes the emergency situation (meaning that he hits the brakes the hard). A tractor-trailer requires approximately 250 feet to come to a stop under the same circumstances. Although these stopping distances will vary based on the type of braking system and the weight that the truck is hauling, the basic fact is that a truck requires a far greater stopping distance under the best of circumstances.

The operator of a commercial truck must take the appropriate precautions to ensure that he has the necessary space to stop before impacting another vehicle. This means that a truck should not follow too closely, should take any adverse weather conditions into account when determining a safe traveling speed, and should ensure that the truck’s brakes are operating properly and tires are in good shape before heading out onto the road.

Factors that Increase Stopping Distances

There are a number of issues that can lead to a serious accident when combined with longer stopping distances, including:

  • A driver who is distracted – stopping distances is calculated from the time when the driver first realizes the potential danger. When the driver is not watching the road, he might travel hundreds of feet in the time when his focus is elsewhere, meaning that there is minimal chance that the truck can stop in time when the driver does recognize the potential hazard.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – this slows reaction times.
  • Driver fatigue – this may have similar impact on reaction times as drugs or alcohol.
  • Excessive speeds – the higher the rate of speed, the longer the stopping distance.
  • Overloaded trailers – stopping distances increase as the overall weight of the tractor-trailer goes up.
  • Mechanical defects – the stopping times for large trucks are calculated based upon fully functioning equipment. When there are worn brakes or defective parts, the stopping distance is going to be longer than the standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • Worn tires – stopping ability of a truck is based upon the coefficient of friction that exists between the tires and the road surface. When the tires are worn or bald, the coefficient will be lower and the stopping distance will be greater.

Any negligence of the driver or trucking company that leads to a slower application of the brakes or a longer stopping time greatly increases the odds of an impact and serious injuries.

Peter Thompson & Associates Succeeds in Getting Settlements and Jury Awards

The monetary compensation of a negotiated settlement or jury award will not make up for the devastation that results from a serious truck accident, but it will provide the money to pay bills and continue with ongoing treatment. The hardworking and experienced truck accident attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates know that a claim following a severe crash still leaves many other unresolved issues. For this reason, we work closely with our clients to understand their needs and create a strategy that works best for them. To discuss what happened to you in an initial consultation, call us at 800.804.2004.

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