We thought we might take a break from our usual industry topics to draw attention to a serious issue; driver safety, particularly, over the holiday weekend. Transportation analysts expect a record number of people in the U.S. to travel during the Independence Day weekend. The travel group AAA says almost 45 million Americans will take trips to destinations at least 50 miles from home during the holiday period. Unfortunately, reported road rage incidents are on the rise. The increase in holiday traffic can only add to driver frustration. Do what you must to keep your patience in check this holiday for the sake and safety of your family as well as other travelers. Be cognizant of the stopping distances required by a fully loaded semi-truck. A fully loaded semi-truck has a gross vehicle weight, depending on its cargo, of up to 80,000 lbs. Compare this to the average loaded weight of a passenger vehicle of 4,000 lbs, and you can see the difference in energy produced by both vehicles.
Stopping Distances Are Significantly Different
Highway traffic and safety engineers have some general guidelines they have developed over the years and hold now as standards. For example, if a street surface is dry, the average driver can safely decelerate an automobile or light truck with reasonably good tires at the rate of about 15 feet per second. As an example, a passenger car traveling at 60 mph that driver could stop the described vehicle for a total of 6.87 seconds including a 1-second driver reaction time. Your total stopping distance would be 302.28 feet, slightly more than a football field in length.
One of the most significant differences between a passenger car and a commercial truck is the stopping distance of the big truck. Tractor-trailers can require up to 40% more distance to stop than that of a typical passenger car. Add poor weather to the equation and the stopping distance difference can even be worse. Add bad brakes on a truck, and the results can be terrible. Generally, at 60 miles an hour, an 18-wheeler can take up to 450 feet after the brakes are applied before the rig can come to complete stop. Interestingly, a loaded truck stops quicker than one that is empty, because the load provides extra traction to the tires. So, please think twice before getting in front of a big rig on the highway this holiday weekend. It can be extremely dangerous if the traffic stops suddenly in front of you and you have an 80,000-pound vehicle right behind you. You may very well be pushed 150 feet into the traffic ahead of you.
Some Additional Pre-Trip Tips
These are all basic but bear repeating and consideration. Speaking from personal experience, I know seat belts saved if not my life, serious personal injury from a traffic accident in my youth. Please take just a few moments to revisit some of these AAA safety precautions.
A requirement in all 50 states for front and rear passengers, seat belts are one of the best life-saving features of any car. Without being strapped in your body can become a projectile in the event of an impact causing severe injury to yourself and potentially other drivers. There are no argument seat belts save lives. Please use them.
It's a great idea to have your mechanic give your vehicle a solid review before loading your family in for a long road trip. Get the oil changed, be sure your coolant is at the appropriate levels and all your belts are tight and do not show signs of wear. Nothing can ruin a trip and bust the budget quicker than roadside towing service and an out of town mechanic over a holiday weekend. You may find yourself spending the holiday weekend with the wife and kids in Mayberry. (No offense to the Andy Griffith fans). Also, they say timing is everything. This is true with trip planning as well. Getting up a little early to get around major traffic areas like DC, New York, and Atlanta can mean the difference between a long stressful trip and a pleasant one. Lastly, for the pre-trip planning segment it’s a good idea to plan your route. Your local traffic news may not be aware of construction delays outside their viewership but directly in your route of travel. Apps like Waze will advise you of issues like this en route. Also, sites like http://www.511.org can provide potential delay information along with your route of travel.
Get Adequate Rest for Your Trip
Again, these tips are basic but just as much as your business; your safety is a primary concern. So, get enough sleep to make it through your trip. Break up the driving when possible. Above all, drive safely and defensively. Make it home to ship another day. From all of us at Land Link Traffic Systems have a safe Independence Day holiday this year and many to come.