Stopping distance is somewhat confusing at times. Your distance actually starts when you see (Thinking Distance) a hazard or warning ahead. This increases your braking distance. Your braking distance is measured from the time you first apply the brakes.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) states “A tractor trailer traveling 60 mph must come to a complete stop in 250 feet”. There are many other factors involved in this rule but you get the idea.
Keep in mind the different scenarios involved in stopping distance.
· Empty or loaded?
· Maximum load or light load?
· Is the road surface wet or dry?
· Is there a possibility of ice?
· Is it snowing?
Every factor above equates to a different distance. If your trailer is loaded to the maximum, this may help shorten your stopping distances on wet roads. But keep in mind if the roads are wet you should be driving at a lower speed.
A tractor trailer fully loaded traveling at highway speed can take up to two (2) football fields to stop. This is why I stress “Do not follow close or tailgate anything”.
Another good idea is to double your following distance in adverse weather conditions. This allows you to stop in enough time and to leave room between you and the vehicle directly ahead of you.
A passenger vehicle traveling in ideal conditions at 55 mph can stop in 133 feet. A tractor trailer in the same conditions will take 196 feet.
Tire tread is another important part of stopping distance. Are the treads good or worn out? Are some worn out and others good? If one axle has good tread and another is worn more this makes for longer stopping distances.
Good tire tread allows the water to escape through the treads on wet roads. It pushes the water out the side grooves and the rear of the tires.
When the tires are worn or bald there is no where for the water to escape. Worn tires can actually push the water and you can float on it. This is extremely dangerous.
Examine your tires everyday during your pre-trip. Look for irregular treadwear, cracking, bulges, cuts, foreign objects and any other damage.
Tire pressure is very important. You need to check your tire pressure often. It doesn't take long to check them. Correct pressure gives even wear and longer tire life.