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Linda Chalat
Linda Chalat
Attorney • (866) 735-1102 Ext 366

Dangers of Driving Behind Tractor-trailer

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On Tuesday afternoon this week, a steel beam went into the windshield of an SUV during a three-vehicle accident that closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 25 at Alameda Avenue for almost four hours. The driver of the SUV was a woman in her 30s who was rushed to the hospital with head wounds. She remains in critical condition.

The woman was driving an SUV behind a semi-trailer which was carrying beams that extended farther than the truck bed. The semi-trailer stopped and the beam hit the windshield of the SUV, according to the Denver Fire Department. A sedan then hit the back of the SUV.

To avoid such a tragic accident there are steps to keep in mind. During daylight with good, dry roads and low traffic volume, you can ensure you’re a safe distance from the car ahead of you by following the "three-second rule." The distance changes at different speeds. To determine the right following distance, first select a fixed object on the road ahead such as a sign, tree or overpass. When the vehicle ahead of you passes the object, slowly count "one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand." If you reach the object before completing the count, you’re following too closely. Making sure there are three seconds between you and the car ahead gives you time and distance to respond to problems in the lane ahead of you.

And if you are behind a tractor trailer, give yourself additional distance. If you are driving below 40 mph, you should leave at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length. For a typical tractor-trailer, this results in 4 seconds between you and the leading vehicle. For speeds over 40 mph, you should leave one additional second. The average stopping distance for a loaded tractor-trailer traveling at 55 mph (in ideal conditions) is 196 feet, compared with 133 feet for a passenger vehicle.

According to smartmotorist.com, Colorado is one of the worst states for tail-gating with one out of every four drivers admitting to the practice. The website also reports that that those who drive the "soft" cars (family and economy) tailgate less than those who drive the "hard" cars (sports and SUV) with a ratio of two to one. This holds true for both men and women. However, with SUV drivers , more female SUV drivers tailgate dangerously, by their own admission, than male drivers of SUVs. Beware the soccer moms in the SUV’s!