It’s important for drivers to understand how to operate their vehicles safely around semi-trucks. These are very different from passenger vehicles and drivers need to be well aware of these differences. An example is that trucks make wide turns, so drivers have to be sure not to get into their blind spots.
Another major difference is that trucks have stopping distances that are almost twice as long as the stopping distances for passenger cars. It may take a car around 300 feet to stop, whereas a semi may need more than 500 feet. The weight of the truck plays a major role here, so a semi that is loaded to a full 80,000 pounds is going to need a longer stopping distance than one that is not.
How does this impact safety?
These long stopping distances are sometimes the cause of rear-end accidents. For example, a truck driver will start slowing down because they see a red light ahead of them. But a passenger car may merge into the same lane, seeing the gap between the truck and the intersection. However, the truck driver needed that space to actually bring their vehicle to a halt, so they rear-end the car.
Unfortunately, even when drivers are aware of these differences, accidents may still occur. For example, a truck driver could get distracted by their phone. If they look up and see that they only have 400 feet to bring their truck to a halt before causing an accident, it may be physically impossible for them to do so.
Situations like this sometimes lead to serious motor vehicle accidents where the liability rests on the driver or the trucking company. Those who have suffered injuries need to know if they can seek financial compensation.