Safety is essential for truck drivers and helps protect you and everyone else on the road. Unfortunately, truckers sometimes feel pressure to maximize efficiency at all costs. While making deliveries on time is definitely important, driving safely is the most important responsibility you have as a commercial driver. This includes not driving too fast, as speeding in a semi-truck is even more dangerous than speeding in a standard passenger vehicle.
At the end of the day, speeding actually isn’t more efficient. You reduce your fuel economy, increase the chances of a costly mechanical issue, and, most importantly, put yourself and others at risk.
Here are some of the dangers of speeding in a tractor-trailer:
1. Increased Stopping Distance
It already takes a longer distance for a semi-truck to safely stop compared to a passenger vehicle. On average, a fully-loaded tractor-trailer has a stopping distance of 200 yards or two football fields at 65 MPH in ideal conditions. This is almost twice the stopping distance of a standard passenger vehicle traveling at the same speed. This data comes from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
If you are going faster than 65 mph, the distance it takes to bring your truck to a stop increases even further. This reduces the chance that you will see a hazard in time to stop.
2. Less Time to React
In addition to the physical stopping distance, you should also keep in mind that it takes time to notice a hazard and react to it. Your reaction time doesn’t change based on your speed, but the distance you will travel while you are still trying to react does, on top of the already increased stopping distance.
3. Difficulty Controlling the Truck on Curves
Curves and turns require care even when you are traveling at a reasonable speed. If you are going too fast, the situation can quickly become hazardous. This is true for passenger vehicles, but the risk is even greater for semi-trucks.
Tractor-trailers can be prone to jackknife. This is when the trailer swings into a V shape relative to the cab. A rollover can also occur if you take a curve at too high of a speed. Both of these issues can cause serious and even fatal accidents.
4. Tire Issues
Semi-truck tires generally have a maximum safe speed. This is typically around 75 mph. Going any faster than this increases the risk of a blow-out or of the tires separating. The risk increases if your tires aren’t filled properly or if it’s during the summer.
What is a Safe Speed?
You may think that you are safe as long as you are going under the posted speed limit, but this is not always the case. It is essential to adapt your speed to the road conditions. Adverse weather conditions can obscure your visibility and moisture on the road increases the risk of hydroplaning. In these situations, a speed that would be safe during ideal conditions may be hazardous.
In many areas, law enforcement can cite you for speeding if your speed was inappropriate for the road conditions, even if it was lower than the posted speed limit. It’s better to be safe than sorry and to use your best judgment to determine a safe speed.
Drive With DSW
At DSW, we support our drivers and prioritize safety in every aspect of our operation. Our management is made up of former drivers and we know what life on the open road is like. You will have access to 24/7 support and we offer competitive pay.