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Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents: Truck Stopping Distance

September 15, 2020
Truck accidents caused by truck stopping.

One of the reasons that truck accidents are often more damaging than a typical car crash is the sheer size of a semi-truck hauling a trailer. Semis are both much larger and weigh much more than the average car, even compared to something like a pickup truck or a large SUV. The size of these commercial motor vehicles also means they need much more time and distance to safely stop without causing a crash.

If you have been hurt in a crash caused by a truck that didn’t stop in time, you should speak to a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer right away. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Truitt Law Offices are here to investigate your crash and fight for the full compensation you are owed.

To learn more about how we can help you, call our office today or contact us online for a free case review.

How Long Does It Take a Tractor-Trailer to Stop?

At 60 mph, a fully loaded tractor-trailer needs about 370 feet to come to a complete stop. That’s more than the length of a football field. That long stopping distance presents challenges to drivers both in front of and behind the semi. Drivers in front can be rear-ended if the semi doesn’t stop in time. Drivers behind a tractor-trailer need to be sure to give it ample space to stop.

How Far Away Should You Stay from a Truck While Driving?

Guidelines from commercial trucking organizations and road safety groups say that you should stay about 8 seconds behind a tractor-tractor. To make sure you are maintaining enough distance, pick a stationary point or object on the road, note when the tractor-trailer passes that point, then count out 8 seconds. If you pass that same point before you count to 8 seconds, you need to slow down and put more distance between yourself and the tractor-trailer.

Best Safety Practices for Truck Drivers and Other Motorists

For truck drivers:

  • Keep up with your vehicle maintenance.
  • Use your headlights from half an hour before sunset until half an hour after sunrise.
  • Turn on your turn signal 100 feet ahead of the turn.
  • Do not change lanes too often, and always make sure to use your turn signal.
  • Take frequent breaks to make sure you are alert at the wheel. If you are feeling tired, get off the road and get some sleep. Driving while fatigued is a leading cause of trucking accidents.
  • Give other drivers plenty of space, both for your safety and theirs.
  • Make sure you have all-terrain and bad weather equipment ready. You never know what conditions you might run into while you are on the road.

For other motorists:

  • Give trucks plenty of space, especially because of how long it takes trucks to stop and change lanes.
  • Stay out of truckers’ blind spots. You are much more likely to end up in an accident if you linger in an area where the truck driver can’t see you.
  • It is always good to avoid distractions like talking on the phone while driving. But it is especially important when you are around large trucks. Looking down at your phone for a few seconds could prove to be a deadly mistake if you are not paying attention.
  • Make sure to give yourself sufficient space when you are merging in front of a truck.
  • Always use your signals when merging or turning near a tractor-trailer.
  • Wear your seatbelt! It may save your life in an accident.

Whose Fault Is the Accident If the Truck Doesn’t Stop in Time?

A truck failing to stop in time could be the fault of any number of parties:

  • The truck driver. If the driver was driving while fatigued, driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, driving while distracted, or otherwise engaged in negligent behavior, he or she may not start braking until it’s too late.
  • The mechanic. Commercial vehicles require careful maintenance to make sure they are safe on the road. If a mechanic failed to notice some kind of brake failure or other problem on the vehicle that made it so the truck could not stop in time, they may be liable.
  • The trucking company. Trucking companies may be responsible when they push their drivers to keep driving even when they would be better off getting some rest, leading to fatigue at the wheel. In other instances, they may fail to properly train or screen drivers.
  • Manufacturers of trucks or truck parts. A manufacturing or design defect can compromise the safety of a large truck.
  • Cargo companies. When cargo is not loaded properly or is unsecured, it can have a severe effect on the driver’s ability to safely stop.
  • Other motorists. Many truck crashes involve more than two vehicles. If another driver doesn’t pay enough attention or fails to give a truck enough space, that person may also be held responsible.

Hurt in a Crash? Talk to a Truck Accident Attorney in Fort Wayne

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you already know the kind of havoc a crash can wreak on your life. You may be facing mountains of medical bills, extensive physical therapy, long-term pain, a long leave of absence from work, perhaps even a temporary or permanent disability. You want an experienced, aggressive lawyer at your side to fully investigate your claim, take care of the necessary paperwork, and demand the full compensation you deserve.

Our staff is committed to helping you get back on your feet. We will look at the full extent of how your accident has changed your life, and then pursue maximum compensation for your losses.

With 40 years of combined legal experience, our law firm has the skills and the resources to hold deep-pocketed companies and insurers responsible. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.

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