<< Back
Following Distances


Following Distances

When following behind a truck leave yourself 20 to 25 car lengths behind it. This may seem like a long distance but because large trucks obscure visibility far more than smaller vehicles that much room is needed so that you have enough time to react if road conditions suddenly change. A good rule of thumb to ensure that you’ve left yourself enough room is to look for the truck’s side mirrors. If you can see them then you are in a good place


Some of the things that can happen that require that much space behind a truck are this:

- Debris in the road like lumber or a ladder might have no impact on a large truck. If that debris was suddenly in front of you because the truck drove over it and you were following too closely it could have a devastating impact. 

- On congested roadways traffic often slows down suddenly. If you are traveling too closely behind a truck you cannot see the slow down coming.

- At highway speeds everything happens very fast. Accidents up ahead or right in front of a truck require fast reactions. Leaving enough space in front of you will allow for that response.


Passing a Truck

When passing a truck and moving back into its lane make sure you can see the truck’s headlights in your rear view mirror before you cut back in. That allows the truck enough space to slow down or stop if something happens up ahead.

A fully loaded tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and take the length of a football field to stop. Most passenger cars weigh around 3,000 pounds and have a much shorter stopping distance. Just because you can stop in time doesn’t mean that the truck behind you can if you’ve cut too close in front of it. Even if the driver makes a monumental effort they may not be able to stop if you haven’t left them enough room.

You may wonder why trucks leave space in front of them in heavy traffic. It’s so they have enough stopping distance. Don’t fill in that space and take up that safety buffer that the driver is trying to maintain.

Distracted Drivers 

Many large trucks are now equipped with very sophisticated communications equipment that allows for the driver to receive instructions and for the truck to report back to the terminal on an array of technical aspects of the truck and its driver. This equipment makes driving safer and delivering goods more efficient.

Many passenger vehicles now come equipped with the latest technical devices to help people navigate, communicate and be entertained while they drive. It’s important that all communications devices add to safety rather than distract from it. 

Professional truck drivers recognize the enormous responsibility that they have driving such large vehicles on the roadway. There are some hard and fast rules in the trucking industry for using communications technology in the truck’s cab – stay focused on the main job of driving and communicate at stops. The Share the Road drivers recommend the same to all drivers. Use technology wisely and don’t be used by it.