For most drivers, it is very irritating when someone drives close behind them. If the tailgater is pulling a fully loaded 18-wheeler, it not only can cause anger, it can also be downright terrifying. As trucking professionals, we should keep in mind that tailgating is not just a pubic relations issue, it is also very dangerous and costly.
A SAFETY GAMBLE
Some truck drivers believe they can “stop on a dime” since they have air brakes. However, they cannot. Some think that since they have 18 wheels, they have 18 sets of brakes. No, they do not. The fact is, it takes longer to stop a tractor/trailer than a
car, air brakes or no air brakes. Plenty of time is needed to perceive the problem, react, and then stop.
When a driver is getting their CDL, they should have been taught that it takes over 300 feet to stop an 18-wheeler going 55 mph on dry asphalt. If you are going 65 mph, you will need to add another 95 feet to your stopping distance. Add in factors such as wet weather, fog, ABS braking systems, downhill grade, or poorly adjusted brakes, and you may need a couple of football fields to stop, not just one.
CREATING A SAFETY MARGIN
The drivers should give themselves a proper margin of safety. They can do this by mastering the “Six-Second Rule.” This means that they pick a fixed point and then count “one-thousand-and-one, one-thousand-and-two…” until they have counted to at least six. If they reach the fixed point before they finished counting, then they are too close.
It is not always easy to maintain the proper following distance; however if the driver travels slightly slower than the flow of traffic, the proper following distance should be attainable. Speed makes a difference, too. Excess speed and tailgating go hand-in-hand. If drivers find themselves slipping into a pattern of speeding and tailgating, they should slow down.
Reposted from Great West Casualty Company