Truck Driving Safety Tips: Space Management and Proper Following Distance

By Nick Economu Aug 4, 2016
Cars on Highway

It’s a beautiful sunny day and you are traveling along with traffic at 60 MPH. What is the proper following distance?

If you answered seven to eight seconds, you are correct.

Why is this answer correct? There is a direct correlation between the weight of the vehicle and the speed at which you are traveling. The heavier the vehicle and the faster it is moving, the longer it takes to safely stop. Studies have shown that at 60 MPH, a fully loaded tractor-trailer will need approximately 370 feet to stop, which is more than a football field.

How do you determine your following distance? Watch the vehicle in front of you pass a fixed object such as a tree, light pole or a sign on the side of the road. When the vehicle in front of you passes the fixed object, start counting the seconds until you have reached the same object. That will tell you how many seconds of following distance there is between you and the vehicle in front of you. Strive to maintain at least seven to eight seconds of following distance and double that when the weather is deteriorating.

Having an adequate following distance is one of the key truck driving safety tips that will allow you to react early to what is happening in front of you. If you use the visual search and ensure you have enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you, there will be ample time to slow down or change lanes to avoid a crash.

Another part of space management is to stop 20 feet behind other stopped vehicles at traffic lights, stop signs, railroad crossings. This practice will allow you to have enough room to get around the vehicle in front of you in case that vehicle becomes disabled.

Finally, in order to make your presence known to other vehicles, use your headlights half an hour before dusk and leave them on until half an hour after sunrise. Use your turn signals 100 feet in advance of a turn, and leave the signal on until the turn is completed and you are straight in the lane you are turning into.

Now that we’ve reviewed the driving safety tips and skills needed to ensure proper following distance and communicate your presence to other vehicles, take a moment to commit to yourself, your family and the motoring public that you will do everything possible to keep yourself and others safe.

What are your best driving safety tips?

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About the Author

Nick Economu IMG

Nick joined Schneider in August 1990 as an Over-the-Road truck driver. He later became a lead driver for a Dedicated account and worked as a Customer Service Engineer before becoming a Driver Manager. In 2003, he assumed the role of Safety and Training Manager for the Dallas Van Truckload Division and in 2011 became the Safety and Training Manager for Bulk Energy. Currently, Nick is the Safety and Training Manager for the Bulk Southern Divisions and HSSE Program Manager for Schneider Logistics.

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