According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) commissioned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), five percent of tractor-trailer accidents occur because of the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver is following too closely behind the lead vehicle. In order to assist tractor-trailer drivers in making our nation’s highways safer for American drivers, FMCSA posts tips on its web site to help them maintain the correct following distance in various driving conditions (CMV Driving Tips – Following Too Closely).
A CMV driver is considered to be following too closely in “situations in which one vehicle is following another vehicle so closely that even if the following driver is attentive to the actions of the vehicle ahead he/she could not avoid a collision in the circumstance when the driver in front brakes suddenly.” In addition to providing enough time to stop, sufficient following distance allows for more time to make decisions and allows other drivers to see around the truck to the vehicle immediately in front.
Tractor-trailers need to leave extra space between vehicles to allow for safe braking and unexpected events. When traveling below 40 mph, a CMV driver should allow at least one second for every ten feet of vehicle length or about four seconds for a typical tractor-trailer. For faster speeds, a driver should allow one additional second.
FMCSA provides the following video clip as a training exercise for CMV drivers:
After viewing the video, the driver is instructed to answer the following questions:
- Does the driver appear to adjust his vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe following distance with the lead vehicle?
- Why was the lead vehicle slowing down?
- Why did the driver brake excessively?
- What could the driver have done differently?
FMCSA also recommends adjusting the following distance to match weather conditions, visibility, road conditions, and traffic. We can only hope that the drivers of tractor-trailers, capable of inflicting tremendous damage on other motorists and their vehicles, are taking advantage of these helpful safety tips.
If you have been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer, please contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman today for a free consultation. We only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.