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How Braking Distance Changes

Big rig accidents are often linked to braking problems. Braking distance can be impacted by many factors, including speed, vehicle maintenance, and road conditions. A semi truck accident attorney should review these factors with victims following a collision.

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Speed of travel

One of the biggest contributing factors to stopping distance for any vehicle is the speed of travel. Semi trucks are generally held to a lower speed limit than the rest of traffic on highways. This is for everyone's safety, as NHTSA data shows that in 2013 alone, nearly 4,000 people were killed in semi truck accidents. Attorneys are often consulted by relatives as 71 percent of those killed are the occupants of other vehicles.

Truck condition

The big rig's maintenance record is one of the key items that a semi truck accident attorney will want to review after an accident. This is because improper or delayed brake system maintenance can lead to system failure. Additionally, NHTSA guidelines, as revised in 2015, require heavy trucks to adhere to new electronic stability control systems. The new ESC systems could prevent a large percentage of rollover and loss-of-control semi truck accidents. Attorneys understand that truck drivers must also account for "brake lag" which is the time it takes for the vehicle to process the braking signal once brakes are engaged in the cab - for most rigs that time is around ¾ of a second.

Surface condition

The greatest seasonal factor that impacts braking distance in semi trucks is the condition of the road. Whether one considers debris deposited by wind or rain runoff, the hazards presented by freezing temperatures or simply the impact of precipitation, road condition brings a wild card element into vehicle control. For a semi truck accident attorney, knowing the condition of the roadwhere a big rig accident occurs is another key factor.

Terrain

Finally, when looking at large truck braking distances, consider the terrain. Simple physics shows that slowing a load on a downward slope takes more effort and time. For big rig drivers, being consistently alert to their surroundings is a key to staying safe on the roads. When a semi truck is fully loaded, it will take at least twice the distance of an average car to stop.

Big rigs come with huge responsibility. To be safer on the road, diligent truckers are aware of maintenance issues, road conditions, terrain, and safe speeds at all times.

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