If you’re nervous when you drive around semi-trucks, you’re not alone. After all, these massive vehicles can cause catastrophic injuries when they are involved in an accident. There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of a serious truck accident, including distraction, intoxication and fatigue. These characteristics, in conjunction with the dynamics of driving a truck, can spell disaster for innocent motorists.

As an example, let’s look at semi-truck stopping distances. Passenger vehicles, which can be as long as 18 feet and weigh as much as 4,000 pounds, need about 125 feet to come to a safe stop when traveling at 40 miles per hour. When traveling at 65 miles per hour, these same vehicles need 316 feet to stop. A semi-truck, on the other hand, which can be as long as 53 feet and weigh up to 80,000 pounds, needs nearly 170 feet to safely stop when traveling at 40 miles per hour and 525 feet to stop when traveling at 65 miles per hour. These increased distances mean that semi-trucks are oftentimes less likely to slow down and halt in time to avoid rear-end collisions.

Of course, these stopping distances can be increased if certain circumstances exist. A drunk trucker, for example, will have a decreased ability to recognize a hazardous condition and take corrective action. Many tired truckers also have slowed reaction times, which could increase a truck’s stopping distance.

While a lot of rear-end accidents are relatively minor, those involving semi-trucks can be devastating. This is why those who have been injured in a semi-truck accident need to consider their legal options. By doing so, a victim may be able to not only impose liability, but also recover compensation for damages suffered, such as medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.