Physics is the study of how things move. While most Fayetteville residents may not think of it, the laws of physics play an important role in our daily lives, including the way we drive.
In reality, physics explains both what causes an accident and what happens in the aftermath.
Physics can also explain why it is so important for truckers to drive safely while using well-maintained equipment. The key concept here is momentum.
In this context, momentum means that when two vehicles are going at the same speed, the heavier vehicle, a full-sized truck for example, is going to take longer to stop.
The difference in stopping distances between a car and a loaded truck can be profound, especially at higher speeds.
For example, at 65 miles per hour, and assuming that both drivers react to a hazard at the same time, it would take a truck about 525 feet, the length of about one and a half football fields, to stop.
On the other hand, the passenger car could stop in 316 feet.
Truckers just have to adjust their driving to account for longer stopping distances. Since the longer stopping distance is a matter of physics, there is really no way around it.
Slowing down helps. For example, at 55 miles per hour, a truck could stop in 335 feet, while a passenger car could stop in 225 feet.
A longer time on the road is well worth the safety of both the trucker and all the other people traveling on the road.
Likewise, truckers simply cannot afford to react too late to a hazard because they were distracted or even just not paying attention.
Truckers who operate under the influence of alcohol, drugs or even their own legal medication also sacrifice valuable reaction time.
Finally, a poorly maintained truck or one that is overloaded could take longer than expected to stop. For instance, stopping distance increases if a truck’s brakes do not work correctly.
Both the laws of physics and the laws of North Carolina require truck drivers to take extra caution on this state’s roads. If they do not operate safely and cause an accident, their victims can hold the truckers financially accountable.