Semi-trucks are so common that no one gives them a second thought as they drive alongside the monstrous vehicles. But it’s never a good idea to become complacent while driving around a semi, and for good reason: the physical mass of a semi is multiple times greater than that of an automobile.
The damage a semi can cause during an accident is much worse than what any car, SUV, van or pickup truck. Therefore, it’s best to be aware of what a semi driver is doing and drive in such a way so as not to make the truck driver’s job more difficult; after all, these rigs don’t drive like a car.
A semi-truck can be as long as 80 feet from end to end when the cab is attached to the trailer. It can weigh over 80,000 tons when fully loaded, giving it a weight that is up to 30 times more than the average sedan.
All of this weight is drawn along by the cab, which has an engine that is about six times bigger than a car engine. So what does all of this weight and length mean to a car driver? Simply put, the laws of physics are more onerous for a truck than they are for a car.
The weight can also become a liability in an accident, as the greater weight of the truck means that a car is usually going to come out the loser in a collision. Maneuvering a semi is not as easy as a driver makes it look.
While a truck does fine on the open roads of the freeway, making turns and stopping requires caution. Left-hand turns are generally easier for a semi to make, as they have the entire intersection with which to execute the turn. Right-hand turns are more difficult, as the driver has to swing wide in order to avoid hitting people or objects on the corner. It also takes an average of 200 yards for a semi to come to a full stop at a speed of 55 mph, a much longer braking distance than a car.
What these facts mean to a driver is the need to give a semi room to do what it needs to do. Be aware of where the driver’s blind spots are and stay out of them. Give a semi the room it needs to slow down safely and don’t cut it off; it cannot stop as quickly as you can.
The space a semi driver puts between the rig and cars is there for stopping room. While it’s true that brakes on the cab and trailer do an excellent job of slowing down the semi, physics still play a role in how much length a semi driver needs to stop completely.
Taking the extra step to respect semi-trucks helps reduce the risk of an accident and injury to you and your passengers. Responsible driving by all parties means that everyone gets to go home and sleep in their own bed, whether it is in their home or in the back of the cab.