Tractor-trailers, those behemoth vehicles dominating our highways, demand a level of respect and caution from all drivers. One thing that often goes unnoticed by drivers is their requirement for more stopping distance and time compared to cars.
Understanding this fact can be the key to preventing accidents. You can not expect trucks to react as quickly as passenger vehicles. This is especially important during New Jersey’s sometimes harsh winters when roads are often treacherous.
Extended stopping distance
Due to their massive size and weight, tractor-trailers need a longer stopping distance than the average car. The momentum of these giants requires more time and space to come to a complete halt.
A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh 80,000 pounds. When traveling at 65 mph in ideal conditions, a truck needs approximately 525 feet and five to six seconds to stop. That is around 40% more than cars need. Truck stopping distances can differ depending on factors such as weight, speed, weather or road conditions and brake efficiency.
Failing to understand the extended stopping distance of tractor-trailers can lead to catastrophic accidents.
When drivers of smaller vehicles cut in front of commercial trucks or abruptly change lanes, they often underestimate the time it takes for a truck to brake. This can result in rear-end collisions or underride accidents, where smaller vehicles get trapped beneath the trailer, usually causing severe damage and injury.
The road is a shared space where vehicles of varying sizes coexist. Respecting the unique needs of tractor-trailers, particularly their extended stopping distance, helps in preventing accidents.