Driving above the speed limit is risky business. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that the economic cost to society that results from speeding-related crashes is a whopping $40.4 billion every year, and states that speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing the traffic crashes.
Speeding or traveling too fast for conditions is dangerous regardless of the vehicle type or size. However, for large trucks, the risks are increased. Here’s why speeding trucks are especially dangerous.
Need for Greater Stopping Distance
One of the reasons that traveling too fast for large trucks is so dangerous is that regardless of speed, trucks need more stopping distance than do standard passenger cars. And when a vehicle’s speed is increased, the amount of time they will need to stop is also increased. In fact, the NHTSA reports that large trucks, on average, take 40 percent longer to stop than do standard passenger cars. The Utah Department of Transportation gives an even more detailed explanation of the amount of stopping distance needed for large trucks, stating that a passenger car (weighing between 3,000-4,000 pounds) traveling at 65 mph would take 316 feet to come to a complete stop. In comparison, a large truck weighing 80,000 and traveling 65 mph would need 525 feet to stop even when traveling in ideal conditions. That’s nearly the length of two football fields! When speed is increased, the truck needs more distance to come to a halt, which can be dangerous.
Speed Increases the Force of Impact and Degree of Damage
Everyone already knows that large truck accidents are so dangerous because of the weight of the trucks involved, which can be 20 times that of the passengers cars with which they collide. But more than weight alone, speed adds another factor that contributes to force, and therefore damages.
To be sure, speed is a major contributing factor to the severity of a crash. This is because kinetic energy–which is the combination of a vehicle’s mass times its velocity squared–is significantly increased. Kinetic energy has to have somewhere to go, with some of the energy being absorbed by each vehicle/object involved. We know that for a 30 percent increase in speed, there is a 69 percent increase in kinetic energy, which means a more-than-double probability of injuries occurring or being more severe.
Speeding Decreases Reaction Time/Increases Reaction Distance
Just as drivers need more time and distance to stop depending upon the weight of their vehicle and how fast they are traveling, it is also important to remember that a driver who is traveling faster than they should also has a decreased amount of time to react to a situation. This is because the fact that a vehicle is traveling, the more distance they cover during the time it takes them to react. In other words, even if a driver traveling at 50 mph and a driver traveling at 80 mph both only take half a second to brake when they notice a hazard in front of them, the driver traveling 80 mph will have traveled a greater distance in that half second, increasing the risk of a collision.
Speed Is Dangerous on Turns
There is a reason why on sharp turns on certain roads, signs warning of tip-overs and posting a mandatory reduction in speed are present – when vehicles take turns too quickly, they risk losing control of their vehicles, going over an edge or even suffering a roll-over. For trucks, which already have trailers that can be difficult to control in the event of a weight shift, taking a turn too quickly is especially risky.
What to Do if You Are Involved in an Accident with a Speeding Truck Driver
Truck drivers have a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely, which means not only traveling within the posted speed limit, but also driving at a speed that is safe for conditions and for the load that they are carrying. When truck drivers speed, they increase the risk of accident and injury for those around them.
If you are involved in an accident that you believe was caused by a truck driver who was speeding, it is essential that you act quickly to hire an experienced California truck accident attorney who can help you to prove truck driver negligence and understand the claims process. Our lawyers can be reached by phone or online today, and consultations with our law firm are always offered free of charge. Call us now at 619-441-2500