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What If the Truck Behind You Can’t Stop?

When driving on the highway, there is a minimum safe distance for one vehicle to travel behind another. This safe distance is established so that there is enough space to stop if the forward vehicle suddenly comes to a stop.

However, the safe distances we know about from our driver’s license tests are based on the stopping ability of a car or small personal-use truck. The distances an 18-wheeler needs to stop are much greater. In fact, these distances are unrealistic for most truck drivers on congested major highways.

Safe Distances for Trucks

According to a recent article in The Truckers Report online, trucks need more space to come to a complete stop than cars need. A lot more.

In fact, the average big rig needs 40% more space to come to a complete stop than an average car needs. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Motor Vehicle Laws publication, drivers should stay one car length behind the car they are following for every 10 miles-per-hour they are driving. So, if you are going 60 MPH, you should stay six car lengths behind the car in front of you.

Again, since trucks need an average of 40% more distance to come to a complete stop, that means they need to stay an average of 2.4 car lengths further behind than cars need to. So trucks need to be 8 and a half car length behind the next closest vehicle.

Not only is this standard unrealistic, it is almost impossible during busy highway times. The result is a much greater likelihood of rear-end collisions caused by trucks than by cars.

To further the problem, the size and weight of trucks (80,000 pound legal limit, compared with a 5,000 pound average for cars, according to The Truckers Report) result in serious accidents and injuries when rear-end collisions do occur.

It is important to be aware of the added stopping distance for trucks and the significant dangers involved. Be careful on the highways and avoid driving right in front of 18-wheelers if possible.

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