How often have you been driving on a highway, followed too closely by a truck? Unfortunately, this is a common experience and can lead to serious or fatal injury. This is because when velocity and weight combine, the truck driver can find out very quickly that stopping short of another vehicle or object can be difficult, if not impossible. Tractor-trailers can be some of the most dangerous vehicles traveling on American roads and highways. This past week a Georgia truck accident involving two tractor-trailers demonstrated just how dangerous and quickly out of control a situation can become with these massive vehicles.
The accident in Villa Rica, Georgia involved one tractor-trailer following another tractor-trailer too closely. This is not only extremely dangerous and likely to cause serious or catastrophic injury to the truck and its driver, it is very dangerous for all other vehicles in the vicinity. The crash closed I-20 for over two hours during rush hour. Unfortunately, once the rear end collision occurred, the driver of the truck that was following too closely went out of control, struck the guard rail and ended up on its side down a hill. The truck that was hit was able to remain on the road and pull over after the impact of the crash. This FedEx truck lost some of its content due to the crash … and the truck’s axel was damaged. Not surprisingly, both drivers needed to be taken to the hospital for medical care.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides guidance and regulations that trucking companies and drivers must follow in order to drive safely. The stopping distance for a tractor-trailer that is loaded with cargo and is traveling at 55 mph is nearly 200 feet, while a passenger vehicle requires about 133 feet. Maintaining a safe distance between the truck and other vehicles is critical to safety — that is why truckers are required to avoid following other vehicles too closely. A driver must be able to avoid a collision when he or she applies the truck’s brakes suddenly. Allowing proper stopping time requires enough distance between the truck and vehicles in front of it to ensure that the driver can make well-planned decisions and avert a collision.
If a truck is driving under 40 miles per hour it takes at least one second for every ten feet of the truck’s length. This means that a large truck should leave at least 4 seconds between it and the vehicle ahead of it. If a truck is driving over 40 miles per hour, even more space is required to avoid a collision. When weather becomes a factor such as fog, rain or snow, the truck driver should increase this distance to ensure that safe evasive action can be taken in case of a necessary stop.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, Scholle Law can help. We have represented many victims of trucking accidents as well as their family members. These accidents can be devastating. Our team is here to support you and your family and to go after a tractor trailer accident and injury.