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By Jim Adler October 18, 2016

While many drivers exceed the speed limit on our roads, the offense is far greater when it involves one type of person behind the wheel: an 18-wheeler driver. That’s because the enormity and weight of big rigs make them far more difficult to slow down or stop — and make them far more deadly in a collision.

Indeed, among those whose vehicle was struck by an 18-wheeler or tractor trailer, deaths and catastrophic injuries are tragically common.

18-Wheeler Traffic Deaths, Injuries

In recent years, more than 5,000 persons annually have been killed and 130,000 persons have been injured in crashes with the large trucks known as 18-wheelers, big rigs, diesel trucks, semi trucks or tractor trailers. When fully loaded, these trucks may weigh up to 30 times more than an average car, which makes them far more deadly in a collision.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, such large trucks account for just 2 per cent of the vehicles on our roads, with about 2 million big rigs in use. Yet they are involved in a wildly disproportionate 12 per cent of fatal accidents, or around half a million annual big rig wrecks.

In those 18-wheeler accidents, more than 90 per cent of the persons killed were drivers or passengers in smaller vehicles, rather than 18-wheeler drivers themselves.

18-Wheeler Stopping Times, Distances

For the most part, an 18-wheeler requires 40 per cent more time to stop than an average automobile. In fact, it can take even longer depending on the driver’s reaction time, which can be slowed due to fatigue or drug use. Also slowing 18-wheeler stopping time can be such factors as weather and road conditions, which can be wet, icy and slippery.

Once braking begins, how far does a big rig going 60 miles per hour (a slow speed for many) travel before it stops? Even on a dry road, a diesel truck can take over 110 yards to stop, or over 330 feet. A car traveling 60 miles per hour can stop within 120 to 140 feet, or far less than half the distance an 18-wheeler requires.

Naturally, a speeding 18-wheeler truck will take even longer to stop. Also, a big rig can travel even farther before stopping depending on the driver’s reaction time and accounting for the fact that air brakes may have a half-second or even a full-second delay.

This delay is because tractor trailers’ compressed-air braking systems need time before the boost of the air brakes can activate the friction elements of the systems. By contrast, automobiles have hydraulic brake systems which engage nearly instantaneously.

In view of the lengthy stopping times and lengthy distances to stop for the lumbering leviathans known as 18-wheelers, federal regulations are involved. Those regulations mandate that newly made big rigs with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 85,000 pound should be able to stop within 250 feet, or within 310 feet if the GVWR is more than 85,000 pounds.

In either case, 18-wheeler stopping distances can be longer than the length of a football field.

18-Wheeler Lawsuits

If someone in your family was killed or injured by speeding 18-wheeler drivers, notify the veteran Texas injury law firm of Jim Adler & Associates. For over 40 years, the Adler law firm has helped Texans get the payments to which they were legally entitled after an injury or death due to someone else’s negligence.

Contact us today, and we’ll provide you with a free legal case review.

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