Whether you’re driving a semi-truck or are sharing the road with trucks, understanding how long it takes a semi-truck to sop is essential. A key part of trucking safety is to ensure that semi-truck drivers have ample room on the road, especially directly in front of them. These larger, heavier vehicles have far longer stopping distances, and without sufficient space, accidents are more likely to occur.
Fortunately, accidents are avoidable by respecting the stopping power of a semi-truck. If you want to make sure you have enough room while driving a truck or are giving truck drivers enough space if you share the road with them, here’s what you need to know.
How Long It Takes a Semi-Truck to Stop
Large trucks and tractor-trailers can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and come in at a length of approximately 65 feet. With that amount of weight, stopping requires far more time than it does for your average 12- to 18-foot-long passenger vehicle, as those typically only weigh around 3,000 to 4,000 pounds.
While the size and weight of a semi-truck are primarily responsible for the longer braking distance, other factors are in play. For example, passenger vehicle brakes are usually more responsive. Since semi-trucks often rely on air brakes, brake lag is a factor, causing the brakes to take a bit longer to engage, lengthening the stopping distance.
For an average passenger vehicle traveling at 65 mph, the stopping distance is usually near 316 feet, which is about the length of a football field. While the exact stopping distance for a semi-truck can vary depending on speed, the actual weight, and road conditions, a semi-truck driving at 65 mph usually needs at least 525 feet to come to a complete stop. That’s a difference of nearly 200 feet and puts the total closer to two football fields.
Factors That Impact Stopping Distances
While semi-truck braking distances are inherently longer than a passenger vehicle, certain road conditions can extend them further. Rain, ice, and snow all negatively impact braking distances, causing trucks to take longer to come to a complete stop. As a result, other drivers need to give trucks even more room during inclement weather or riskier road conditions.
Additionally, since semi-trucks are heavier, they’ll take longer to come to a complete stop if they’re driving downhill. The brakes have to counteract the pull of gravity and the speed generated by the slope, which leads to longer stopping times.
Ultimately, drivers need to understand that the stopping power of a semi-truck isn’t what they usually assume. By doing so, it’s easier to see why giving semi-trucks additional space is a must, both for your own safety and that of the driver operating the truck.
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