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What is the stopping distance for a semi-truck?

On Behalf of Bennerotte & Associates, P.A.

Jun 23, 2023

Truck/Semi Accidents

Stopping distances correlate to reaction times when driving. This relationship is especially important with heavy vehicles, such as semi-trucks. Generally speaking, it takes roughly twice as long for a semi-truck to stop as it does for a passenger car. Most estimates say that a semi-truck needs at least 525 feet to come to a stop.

This calculus does, in part, depend on the weight of the vehicle in question. For example, semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds under current regulations. But an unloaded truck or a truck without a trailer will weigh tens of thousands of pounds less and may be able to stop more quickly. So, there are variables, but it’s clear that a semi will take longer to stop – and be compelled to navigate additional hazards, such as the chance of jackknifing when braking hard – than a passenger vehicle.

Causing rear-end accidents

The primary safety issue in this regard is that semi-trucks can cause rear-end accidents that the drivers ahead of them cannot avoid. For example, say that a semi-truck is traveling at 70 miles an hour on the interstate. There is roadwork up ahead, and traffic is beginning to back up. The truck driver comes over a hill and there is a line of cars stopped in the travel lanes.

Now, imagine that the driver is breaking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s protocols about using handheld devices. They are distracted by the phone and don’t react for an extra second when those vehicles come into view. In a passenger car, that driver may still have had enough space to stop. In a semi, however, it may be all but inevitable that the truck is going to slam into the back of the line of stopped vehicles.

Accidents like this often happen in construction zones or at toll booths. They can be incredibly devastating, leading to serious or even fatal injuries for people in these passenger cars, as there is no way for people who are stopped in traffic to avoid the crash or get out of the way. As a result, those who have been injured or the family members of those who have passed away as a result of such accidents need to know exactly what legal options they have to seek proper compensation. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.