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Beware of long stopping distances for trucks

Semitrucks are a necessary part of the economy and infrastructure in the United States, but they also pose some serious risks on the road. They massively outweigh all of the vehicles around them and sit so high that a collision puts someone in a passenger car at greater risk. Semitrucks also have large blind spots where truckers can't see the vehicles traveling in those areas. Accidents involving these commercial vehicles can be devastating.

One big issue is that, due in part to the high weight limits -- up to 80,000 pounds for some trucks -- these vehicles have very long stopping distances. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) warns that it can take almost 600 feet, or 200 yards, for a semi to come to a stop. They also note that road conditions can increase that distance. Dry summer roads are ideal, but any amount of rain, snow or ice could make it take much longer than 600 feet.

The FMCSA releases this information to warn drivers not to cut trucks off and then hit the brakes. For instance, a driver should never pull in front of a truck right before a red light. The lane may appear open, but the truck may need that space to stop.

There are related issues, though. Namely, if a truck driver has a slow reaction time or gets distracted and does not start pushing the brakes at the ideal moment, the semi could be headed for a rear-end crash. Drivers have to be aware of these long stopping distances and take steps to stop safely. If they don't, people in nearby cars who get injured in a crash may be able to seek compensation.

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