Passenger cars and tractor-trailers are no match for one another. Trucks are larger, sit up far higher and weigh much more, even when not fully loaded, compared to standard automobiles such as sedans. It’s no wonder that crashes between these two types of motor vehicles are often catastrophic.
That doesn’t have to be the case, however. Passenger car operators can potentially minimize their risks by better understanding how truck braking works.
How trucks brake
Data compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for a 2019 report suggests that a bus or truck operator’s speed significantly impacts how quickly they can come to a full stop when they apply their brakes. The federal agency’s research shows that it can take the distance of at least two football fields for these drivers to come to a full stop when they’re traveling at 65 miles per hour (MPH).
The study’s authors also discovered how the heavier the weight of the load that a bus or tractor-trailer is carrying, the more likely it is to impact their stopping distance once an operator applies their brake. Snow, ice and rain on the road can also make it harder for a truck to stop and increase the distance a truck travels before it can do so.
How you can use this information
Understanding the problems that are inherent in stopping a large, heavy vehicle that’s in motion can allow drivers to make more informed choices when they’re on the road.
In general, you need to remember to stay clear of a truck’s blind spots (as much as possible). You should also keep in mind their braking limitations when you are passing a semi or other commercial vehicle. Put plenty of space between you before you merge back into the truck’s lane.
How to respond to an accident
Despite your best efforts, you can only control your own actions on the road. Truckers can and do make mistakes. The consequences of a truck accident can be disastrous for anybody involved, particularly those in passenger vehicles that are struck from behind.
Tennessee law may allow you to sue a trucker and their employer if their negligence caused your injuries. Proving liability isn’t easy. An attorney with experience in truck accidents can protect your interests and help you pursue a measure of justice in your case.