The Kentucky Department of Transportation reported 780 fatalities in motor vehicle accidents in 2020. Some of these were a result of accidents involving large trucks.
Often, these incidents result from drivers not practicing safe driving. For example, tailgating a semi-truck might seem like a common driving behavior, but it comes with inherent risks that can compromise safety on the road. Understanding why it is unsafe to tailgate a semi is essential.
One primary reason tailgating a semi is dangerous is the limited visibility it creates. Semi-trucks have larger blind spots than regular vehicles, particularly behind and on the sides. When a driver tailgates a semi, they significantly reduce their visibility to the truck driver. This lack of visibility increases the likelihood of accidents, as the semi-driver may not be aware of the vehicle closely following behind.
Another factor contributing to the danger of tailgating a semi is the longer stopping distance larger trucks require. Semis have a greater mass, and their momentum makes it harder for them to come to a sudden stop. If a driver tailgates a semi, they reduce the available stopping distance, increasing the risk of rear-end collisions, especially in emergencies.
The potential for underride accidents adds another layer of danger to tailgating semis. An underride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle goes beneath the rear or side of a semi-truck. Due to the height difference, a smaller vehicle can easily end up in this position. It can lead to severe injuries or fatalities. Maintaining a safe following distance helps mitigate the risk of underride accidents.
Wind turbulence from semis is another safety concern when tailgating. Large trucks generate significant air turbulence as they move, creating a strong draft that can entrap smaller vehicles. Driving too closely behind a semi exposes a vehicle to this turbulence, causing instability and making it challenging to maintain control.
Tailgating a semi also reduces a driver’s ability to anticipate and react to changing road conditions. Trucks often encounter obstacles or hazards that may not be immediately visible to a closely following vehicle. Maintaining a safe distance allows drivers to better anticipate road conditions and respond appropriately.
Tailgating a semi-truck poses serious safety risks. By understanding these dangers, drivers can make informed choices on the road, prioritize safety and contribute to a safer driving environment for everyone.