North Carolina motorists are generally accustomed to sharing the road with commercial vehicles. Much of America’s freight is moved by big rigs, and commuting next to large trucks is simply a way of life for motorists. While anyone can recognize the massive size disparity between tractor-trailer rigs and passenger cars, not everyone truly appreciates the physics that accompany piloting big trucks and what they mean for typical drivers.
A fully loaded tractor-trailer can outweigh a passenger car by 39 tons. With 80,000 pounds being the legal limit, the sheer size of these behemoths ensure that they will come out ahead in any crash will involve a passenger car. At highway speed, a big truck can require the length of two football fields to reach a controlled stop in ideal conditions. When variables such as road type, weather, tire wear, brake wear and reaction time are factored into the equation, the distance can be even greater. Because of this, truckers are trained to maintain a substantial safety cushion between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. Motorists who merge into this safety cushion are playing a dangerous game that puts themselves and their passengers at grave risk.
While truck drivers are required to have specialized training, a motorist has no way of knowing whether a trucker one lane over has years of safe driving experience or is a new hire fresh from an eight-week training course. Giving big trucks a wide berth and limiting exposure in the zones immediately adjacent to the trailer is the best policy for safe driving.
When a big rig has a crash, lots of damage could ensue. By consulting with an experienced commercial truck accident lawyer, a victim could get a much-needed leg up in determining liability and calculating damages. Both the truck driver and fleet owner could be considered liable.