Commercial truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers on the highway. They travel in larger vehicles that take longer to stop and take up a much larger area of the road than a passenger car does. Additionally, semi-trucks are not only regulated by the state rules of the road wherever they happen to be at any given time, but also federal law because they cross state lines on a regular basis. That is why, when people are injured in crashes involving large trucks and semis, it is important to contact an experienced attorney who is familiar with federal truck regulations.
Holding Commercial Drivers Accountable for Failing to Follow the Rules
Proper space management allows professional truck drivers to keep a safe distance from other travelers or hazards they may find on the road and it is vital for avoiding collisions. Truck drivers should be aware of their surroundings. This means not only paying attention to what is in front of them, but also to what is behind them and on either side of their vehicle. Semi-trucks take up far more space than most other vehicles. By keeping plenty of space between themselves and other cars and objects on the road, truck drivers can give themselves enough space to maneuver out of the way when something unexpected happens.
Professional Truck Drivers Should Expect the Unexpected
Vehicles on the highway are moving at a high rate of speed. A commercial driver cannot rely on other motorists to always be predictable. Traffic jams can spring up, virtually out of nowhere, and drivers need to be ready to slow down, stop, or move out of the way. This unpredictability requires drivers to be diligent and hyper aware. Also, since trucks are so much bigger than other vehicles, they need more time to stop. Drivers who leave themselves more space on the road have more time to act in case there is a sudden change in traffic patterns. A semi-truck should not follow closely behind other vehicles.
A Second for Every 10 Feet
There is a formula that most truck drivers are taught in order to measure safe distances on the highway. Most people have heard of the “2 second rule” when it comes to calculating safe distances between cars on the road. For Professional drivers, the rule of seconds starts at 4, not 2.
Figuring out how much space a commercial driver needs in order to stop safely to avoid a collision requires some pretty straight forward arithmetic. Generally, a driver needs at least 10 feet of space in front of his or her truck for every 10 feet of the length of their vehicles when traveling under 40 miles per hour (MPH). For speeds about that, drivers need to add another second. Calculating this is not hard because professional drivers should know how long their vehicles are.
A common length for a single tractor-trailer is 60 feet. When driving under 40 MPH, a trucker would need 6 seconds of space ahead of his or her cab in order to keep a safe distance. Once that truck goes over 40 MPH, the time doubles and 12 seconds is needed to have enough room to maneuver safely.
Professional drivers are not the only ones who can use the “seconds rules” to figure out where they should be on the road relative to other vehicles. A person in a passenger car can utilize his or her rear-view mirror to gauge how far a truck is traveling behind them.
The more vigilance used by all commuters will go a long way in getting people to their planned destinations safely.