Of the different road spaces around your truck, the space in front of you is the most important. If you ever get into an accident, it will likely be with something in your direction of travel. While it’s true that you want to maintain empty space to the sides of your rig whenever possible, you must always allow plenty of empty road space in front. That one time when you’re following too closely because you’re behind your delivery schedule, may be the time when that car in front hits its brakes too hard for you to avoid a collision.
Remember that unlike you, people driving small vehicles don’t understand that large trucks can’t brake as rapidly as they. The car in front will not take your stopping distance into account when they brake. It is up to you to maintain enough space in front so that you can safely slow down and stop when the situation requires it.
Rule of Thumb for Commercial or Owner Operator Trucks When following Other Vehicles
When riding at speeds under 40 mph, always allow one second of separation between you and the vehicle in front for every 10 feet of your vehicle length. When moving at higher speeds, add an extra second. For example, if your commercial or owner operator rig is 50 feet long, then allow 5 seconds of distance for speeds under 40 mph and 6 seconds for higher speeds. Double this distance when the road is wet.
Adjusting your distance according to seconds of separation is done by counting off the number of seconds it takes for you to travel the road space between you and the vehicle in front. To do this, wait until the vehicle in front passes by a landmark such as a road sign, overpass, shadow, or painted marker. Then count the seconds it takes for the front bumper of your commercial or owner operator truck to reach the landmark. Adjust your following distance so that you count off the correct number of seconds for your vehicle length and speed. Seconds are properly counted by saying “one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand…”
Always allow plenty of space in front so that you can react properly to the traffic situation ahead. Your career and life are at stake.
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