The development of more efficient and powerful engines has allowed trucks to operate at much higher speeds than ever before. Big trucks require much more distance to stop, however, and many truck accidents could be avoided if truck drivers drove at more responsible speeds— both in compliance with the law and taking adverse weather or road conditions into consideration. Some truck companies disregard safety concerns, however, in order to push their drivers to cover more distance in less time for the sake of delivering their loads on time. Increased productivity is always a good thing, but never at the cost of other peoples’ lives.
Comparing Stopping Distances Require For Large Trucks
At lower speeds, trucks and cars are able to stop in almost the same amount of distance if both drivers have the same reaction time. It is when trucks reach highway speeds that there is a significant difference between the stopping distance of a car and a semi-tractor with the weight of a trailer behind it. Assuming that both drivers have a reaction time of 1.5 seconds, a car can come to a complete stop in 303 feet from 60 MPH while a truck requires 361 feet of stopping distance. At 70 MPH, the truck requires 465 feet of stopping distance, an increase of over 100 feet for a speed difference of only 10 MPH.
If a driver were to travel 500 miles at 70 MPH, he or she would only save an hour and twelve minutes on the entire trip due to the increased speed. Considering the increased stopping distance required to go 70 MPH when compared to the stopping distance at 60 MPH, it is not worth the hour of saved time to risk being involved in a collision that could result in lawsuits against the driver and the company he or she works for. While some trucking companies implement the use of regulators on their trucks in order to limit the top speed of their drivers, other truck companies actually encourage drivers to go faster, putting them and the people that share the road with them at greater risk.
How Conditions on the Road Affect A Truck’s Stopping Distance
Rain or ice can greatly increase a truck driver’s stopping distance due to the loss of traction on the road. The buildup of oil and other fluids that leak from vehicles on the highway can cause the road to be extremely slick when the moisture hits the pavement and a vehicle as massive as a semi-tractor may slide when the brakes are applied. Rain and snow may also make it more difficult for truck drivers to see objects on or near the road, which can affect their reaction times.
Driving at night can also increase a driver’s reaction time because many vehicles or objects may not be seen as easily. By the time the driver realizes the need to stop, it may be too late to stop in time because of the additional distance that is required to stop just because he or she decided to drive 10 MPH faster. During adverse weather conditions or at night, speed should not be a driver’s priority and he or she should slow down in order to reduce the risk of an accident.
The use of regulators on all trucks would greater reduce the number of truck accidents that occur as a result of the driver simply being unable to avoid a collision due to stopping distance. The difference that a very minor change in speed makes to stopping distance goes to show how important it is that truck drivers not be encouraged to drive any faster than they already do.