An important part of knowing how to drive safely around semi-trucks is understanding their performance limitations. These vehicles are designed first and foremost to haul freight. They were not meant to have the same road performance as the cars most people drive. While experienced truck drivers are keenly aware of these limitations, the rest of the driving public is not. As Chattanooga 18-wheeler accident attorneys, we want to bring these performance limitations to your attention and ask that you drive safely around large trucks.
Semi-Trucks Cannot Stop on a Dime
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, large trucks traveling 65 mph require 66% more stopping distance than cars. Trucks with empty trailers require even more braking distance because their wheels do not have enough weight on them for good traction. They tend to lock up and skid. That is why you often see trucks leaving lots of open road space in front of them in stop-and-go traffic. This is why you should not pull into one of these spaces in front of the truck without leaving generous amounts of room.
Semi-Trucks Cannot Perform Well on Slippery Surfaces
On wet and especially on snowy or icy roads, semi-trucks can easily jackknife. Braking or turning with a large trailer in tow on a slippery surface is very tricky and demands a lot of driving skill. Some jackknifes start with the trailer skidding while others involve a skidding tractor. Braking too hard or braking while turning will initiate a jackknife. If a car suddenly pulls in front of an 18-wheeler in slippery conditions, the truck driver is left with no options. Be especially careful around trucks when the road is slippery.
Gusty Winds Can Overturn Semi-Trucks
Semi-trucks have enormous surface area that act like sails. When a trailer is lightly loaded, there is not enough weight to counter buffeting winds and it can be suddenly pushed into another lane or overturned. High road speeds also make lightly loaded trucks more vulnerable to being overturned by high winds. Top heavy rigs are susceptible as well, especially while rounding curves at a high speed. Keep these facts in mind when driving around 18-wheelers, especially on highways and interstates where speeds are high. Give trucks ample space.
If you were involved in an accident because of the actions of a truck driver, let Chattanooga 18-wheeler accident attorneys put their experience to work for you. For a free initial consultation, contact us at McMahan Law Firm.