On May 26, 2010, an 18-wheeler rear-ended a sport utility vehicle (SUV) causing one death and severely injuring another. Both the tractor-trailer and the SUV were traveling northbound on I-95, near New Smyrna Beach, Florida. At some point the SUV had to slow down and the tractor-trailer slammed into the back of the vehicle. The tragic accident was located a few miles south of State Road 44.
I am often amazed when traveling with family members and friends on the highway and they say, "I need to get in front of that semi." On most occasions, their statement is in relation to being in a safe location in regards to a highway death machine (a.k.a. semi-truck). However, I am quick to disprove their misconception. You are much safer behind a tractor-trailer than in front of it. This is predicated on the fact that you must be traveling at a safe distance behind the tractor-trailer.
To compound this issue further, a common occurrence on the highway is for a standard sized automobile to pass the tractor-trailer and immediately pull in front of the tractor-trailer once they pass it. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average stopping distance for a standard sized automobile traveling at 55 miles per hour is 133 feet, compared to 196 feet for a tractor-trailer.
I met with a friend of mine who is a state trooper and asked how often he cites commercial drivers for traveling too close or tailgating. He said that it was not as often as one would think. The problem is that it is not the commercial driver's fault when a vehicle pulls in front of them too closely.
Therefore, if you are going to travel on the highway, be on the lookout for tractor-trailers. If you want to pass one, do not re-enter their lane until you are a safe distance in front of them. Further, if you see a tractor-trailer in your rear-view mirror in your lane of travel, stay alert and try to changes lanes in a safe manner.
The Law Office of Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A. is located in Volusia County and focuses on personal injury and criminal defense matters.