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Big rigs require much more distance to stop

While many Longview residents probably know this by intuition, the law of physics, specifically momentum, mean that a semi-truck requires additional distance to stop than would a small passenger car. This is especially true when the truck is fully loaded.

The difference in stopping distances between a car and a big rig may come as more of a surprise. At 40 miles per hour, it takes a car about 125 feet to come to a stop once the driver decides to do so. A truck on the other hand takes almost 170 feet to stop.

However, at highway speeds, that is, 65 miles per hour, a car can stop in about 315 feet, which is close to the length of a football field including the endzones. A tractor-trailer, on the other hand, requires 525 feet to stop, which is the length of an entire football field and about half the length of a second field.

Momentum, that is, the combination of speed and weight, is not the only thing that makes trucks require additional stopping distance. Trucks use air brakes to come to a stop. Unlike the hydraulic brakes on a passenger car, it takes time for air brakes to engage after a trucker applies them.

The upshot of this information is that while fatigued, distracted or inattentive driving, or following too closely, may lead to a near miss when a driver is operating a passenger car, a trucker in the same circumstances could cause a fatal accident.

The stopping distance which trucks require is all the more reason why truck drivers must slow down and drive carefully at all times. If they fail to do so, their victims may be able to obtain compensation.

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