Following too closely when driving is dangerous driving behavior under any circumstances. It could lead to a rear-end collision if the driver ahead must brake suddenly. Tailgating by a driver of a large commercial truck is particularly dangerous, due to the sheer size and weight of the vehicle. When an 18-wheeler, weighing 80,000 pounds or more, slams into the rear of a 4,000 pound passenger vehicle, it can cause catastrophic or fatal injuries to the occupants of the smaller car.
Semi tractor-trailers are 20 to 30 times heavier than passenger vehicles and require more time and distance to stop. When a large commercial truck is hauling a heavy load, it accelerates more quickly going downhill and takes longer to come to a stop. As stated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):
- When a semi tractor-trailer is traveling below 40 mph, the driver should allow at least one second between the truck and the car ahead for every 10 feet of vehicle length. This amounts to four seconds for the typical tractor-trailer. For speeds greater than 40 mph, the driver should allow an additional second.
- For a loaded tractor-trailer traveling at 55 mph in ideal conditions, the average stopping distance is 196 feet. For the average passenger vehicle, that distance is 133 feet.
- Truck braking distance can be significantly affected by road surfaces, debris, and weather conditions such as rain, snow, or ice.
Truck drivers may tailgate for a number of reasons. They may simply be impatient. The truck driver may be wanting the vehicle ahead to move out of the way or go faster, even if the driver is doing the speed limit. The driver may be inexperienced and unaware that he or she is following too closely or may not fully understand the danger involved. A truck driver who has been on the road for many hours may be fatigued, not fully attentive to the road ahead, and tailgating unintentionally. Regardless of the reasons, truck drivers have a duty to others on the road to exercise reasonable care, and that includes allowing a safe distance between a big rig and the passenger vehicle ahead.
Tailgating another vehicle in a semi tractor-trailer is negligent driving behavior. If a truck driver was following too closely and it led to a crash, the driver may be liable for resulting injuries. The trucking company who hired the driver and other parties also may be potentially liable. Our Dallas truck collision lawyers can investigate your accident to determine fault and liability and pursue all available forms of compensation.
If you have been seriously injured in a crash caused by a tailgating truck driver, you are entitled to seek compensation for your losses. Damages you may be able to claim may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages or earnings
- Loss of future earning potential
- Permanent impairment
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional trauma
- Diminished quality of life
Our Dallas personal injury attorneys at The Lenahan Law Firm can assess the full extent of your losses and effectively pursue the maximum compensation available. We have a successful track record recovering substantial settlements and verdicts for our clients. Call us at (214) 295-1008 to schedule a free consultation with no time limit. We can tell you if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.