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Stopping Distance: Semi-Trucks vs. Cars

Colburn Law

Every driver needs to know how much road is required to stop their vehicle safely. This distance, known as stopping distance, varies greatly between a semi-truck and a car. However, the appropriate stopping distance can vary drastically; the type of vehicle that you drive, along with the road conditions, will dictate how much space you’ll need to bring it to a halt. In particular, larger and heavier semi-trucks have a greater stopping distance than passenger cars.

Stopping Distance Recommendations for Cars and Semi-Trucks

The stopping distance of a vehicle is a critical safety factor, providing drivers with enough time to brake and avoid potential accidents. For semi-trucks and cars, the stopping distance varies considerably due to their inherent design and operational differences.

A typical passenger vehicle, like a car or a pickup truck, will require about 300 feet to come to a complete halt if it is traveling at a speed of 65 miles per hour. This distance is equal to the length of a football field.

In contrast, a fully loaded commercial truck, under the same conditions, will need approximately 600 feet to stop. This is double the distance of a passenger car, equating to about two football fields.

These figures are based on ideal road conditions and can be influenced by several other factors. During snowy or rainy weather, for example, all vehicles require a much longer stopping distance to account for limited visibility and slick roads.

Why Do Trucks Require a Longer Stopping Distance?

The extended stopping distance for semi-trucks is influenced by a range of factors. Firstly, trucks are much heavier. When a semi-truck is fully loaded, it can weigh up to 20 to 30 times more than a passenger car. This means it has a lot more momentum and needs a greater distance to slow down and stop.

Speed also affects stopping distance. The faster a vehicle is going, the more road it needs to come to a stop. This is true for all vehicles, but it’s more noticeable for trucks because they are bigger and heavier.

The time it takes for a driver to react and start braking is about the same for both trucks and cars. However, because a truck is heavier, even after the brakes are applied, it needs more distance to come to a complete stop.

Finally, trucks often use air brakes, which don’t work instantly. When a truck driver hits the brakes, there’s a slight delay before the brakes apply enough pressure to start slowing the truck. This delay means the truck travels further before beginning to slow down—thus requiring a greater stopping distance.

What To Do If You Are Rear-Ended By A Semi Truck

What to Do If You Are Rear-Ended by a Semi Truck

Being hit by a semi-truck can be a terrifying experience, especially while riding in a smaller passenger car. In these situations, it is important to remain calm and seek immediate help.

  • Call 911 to report the accident to the police.
  • Seek medical care and save your records.
  • Exchange information with the truck driver.
  • Ask witnesses in the area for their contact information.
  • Take photographs and videos of the accident scene.

Once you have addressed your immediate needs, contact a Seattle truck accident attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can help defend your rights, holding the driver accountable for your medical expenses, property damage, and more.