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Why is it unsafe to tailgate a semi?

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Car Accidents |

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.

Limited visibility

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.

Stopping distance

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.

Underride dangers

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

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.

Anticipating issues

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.