At 55 Mph, How Long Does It Take for a Truck To Fully Stop?

Shows a a truck going At 55 Mph, How Long Does It Take for a Truck to Fully Stop

At 55 mph it takes a truck a minimum of 400 feet to stop under the best conditions.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a fully loaded tractor-trailer traveling at 55 mph needs at least 196 feet to fully come to a stop under the best conditions. The stopping time or stopping distance of a truck traveling at 55 mph varies.

In California, the recommended driving speed for trucks is 55 mph. At this speed, truck drivers need to maintain a safe stopping distance on the road. This is especially true because, in certain instances, they may need to come to an abrupt stop to avoid certain unpredicted dangers like stray domestic animals, pedestrians, or other oncoming vehicles. The length of time it takes a truck to stop and whether these stoppages will be successful or result in a car crash is dependent on a couple of different variables.

Table of Contents

Factors that Determine the Stopping Distance of a Truck Moving at 55 mph

The stopping distance of a truck moving at 55 mph is determined by the distance covered by the driver from when they decide to bring the truck to a stop to when they eventually stop. This distance is further categorized into three stages:

Perception distance

The perception time is the distance a truck driver covers from when he first sees a risk, to when his brain interprets this risk. In an ideal situation, if the truck driver is moving at a speed of 55 mph the perception time would be 1.75 seconds. Within this timeframe, the driver would have covered a distance of 142 feet.

Reaction distance

The reaction distance is the distance a driver covers while they are taking steps to avoid a road hazard. In most cases, the driver reacts by applying the brakes. Ideally, the driver typically has a reaction time of 1 second. When a truck is driving at 55 mph the distance covered within this time is about 61 feet.

Braking Distance

The braking distance is the length traveled while the driver is trying to apply brakes. If the brake is in optimal condition the vehicle may travel for 216 feet before it fully comes to a stop according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Other factors that affect the total stopping distance of a truck

The total stopping distance of a truck will generally increase if certain other variables are not in their best condition, and they include:

The brake quality

If the brakes of a truck are functioning optimally and are in good condition, then it can bring the truck to a stop in record time. A truck running at 55 mph on dry pavement, with good brakes, will come to a stop at approximately 216 feet.

Whether the truck is loaded or empty

Empty trucks take much longer to stop than loaded trucks, this is because trucks are built to carry heavy loads and have better balance on the road when heavy than when they are empty.


Foggy or snowy weather may not allow the driver to properly see ahead. This not-so-clear weather might seriously affect his perception of time and eventually affect his overall stopping distance.

Speed levels

The speed at which a truck driver is running is important in determining how soon it will take to stop. At 55 mph it will take a truck driver about 400 meters to stop completely in the best conditions.


The truck driver’s grip on the road is influenced by whether the road is wet or dry, when the road is dry, the driver gets a better grip on the road which allows them to stop on time. However when the road is wet, the trucker’s grip on the road may not be as strong. This might eventually make a truck stop longer than expected.

State of Tires

If the tires of a truck are worn out or faulty the big rig will have less traction on the road. This will then increase the time it takes the truck to come to a stop.


A truck has much less traction at curves. At 55 mph it will take the truck a bit longer to come to a stop at curves.


A truck has less grip when it descends from a hill than when it ascends. The stopping time of a truck then increases when it is traveling down a hill.

Road obstructions

A truck moving at 55 mph can run into heavy obstructions like road markers, signs, barriers, and trees before coming to an abrupt stop.

When a truck running at 55 mph is stopped by heavy obstructions like trees, buildings, and fences, it can lead to wrongful death. Our team at Text Kevin Accident Attorneys can help your family demand justice and fair compensation for your damages.

How long does it take a truck moving at 55 mph to stop when the brakes fail?

400 feet is the length a truck can cover when the brakes are applied in perfect weather and road conditions. In instances when the brakes fail, it may take a significantly shorter distance to bring the truck to stop. This might occur when:

The truck runs into an obstruction

A truck traveling at 55 mph may run into an obstruction such as a tree, a building, the sidewalk, or road barricades. This can cause the tractor-trailer to come to an abrupt stop.

When the truck stops on its own

In some instances, the truck driver cannot bring the truck to a stop due to brake failure. The amount of time it takes the truck to stop if the driver does not run into any object will depend on various factors.

How to stop safely when driving at 55 mph

If you need to stop safely while traveling at 55+ mph, here’s what to do:

Maintain a safe following distance

The following distance is the space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Since trucks have a relatively higher stopping distance, it is advised to give the vehicles in front of you ample space. This saves you from colliding with them in the event of an abrupt stop. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) the safest following time for a truck traveling at 55 mph is at least 6 seconds.

Carry out regular inspections of the truck

The condition of your vehicle is a known contributing factor to your truck’s stopping time. To this end, it would be in your best interests to carry out routine checks on your truck. That way, you can ensure that the brakes, tires, and other important components are in good condition.

Avoid distractions

Distractions such as making a call while driving, texting, and discussing with other passengers, amongst others, may seriously impact your perception time and then prolong your stopping time. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data for 2022, distractions while driving accounted for the death of 2,109 people. Avoiding distractions while driving will help you stop with plenty of time to stop.

Pro Tip
Always make sure there is enough distance between you and the vehicle in front to allow enough room for sudden stops.

Common consequences of unsafe stopping distance

When a truck running at 55 mph is following another vehicle too closely, any abrupt stop from the preceding vehicle may result in the following:

  • Rear-end collision
  • Jackknife accidents
  • Skidding
  • Damage to structures/properties
  • Fatalities and death

What do immediately after a truck running at 55 mph stoppage results in an accident

Seek medical attention

Due to the fact that 18-wheelers are so heavy, especially when loaded, any accident can result in serious injuries and death. Drivers who find themselves involved in a collision with a big rig are advised to seek medical attention by either going to the hospital or calling emergency services.

Don’t accept liability

The aftermath of a truck accident might leave you confused. But one of the worst mistakes you can make is taking the blame. Never accept liability or fault for the accident, even if you feel terrible about how the collision occurred.

Report the accident to the police

According to the CA Department of Motor Vehicles, motorists are required to report collisions that result in property damages of $1,000 or more or a victim suffers any type of injury. These collisions should be reported within 10 days of the wreck.

Call your personal injury lawyer

Reaching out to your lawyer on time will guide you on all legal support you need to either avoid liability or take legal action by reporting the collision to the liable party’s insurance company and settle your claim if you are the at-fault party.

It is important to make a claim with your insurance company on time, it is so a good idea to present all the pieces of evidence available to you that shows the extent of your involvement in the accident.

Consequences for the at-fault party in a stoppage accident

If a driver running at 55 mph makes a stop that results in an accident, they may be held accountable for causing the collision. There are several potential consequences, including:


The car crash may result in the injured party pursuing a lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries, their damaged property, or the wrongful death of a loved one.

Increased auto insurance premiums

Following an accident and a claim from the injured parties, the insurance company will most likely increase the liable parties auto insurance premiums. This is because the insurance company will likely consider them a high-risk driver.

Loss of driving privileges

Depending on the cause of the accident, the trucker may lose their commercial driver’s license (CDL).

You need a respected lawyer following a truck accident

Any miscalculated stop might lead to a devastating trucking accident. It may not always be clear who is responsible for causing the accident. Your truck accident lawyer can conduct an intensive investigation to uncover the truth. In the meantime, we can handle the legal details of your case, which will include:

Collecting supporting evidence

With the help of an experienced car accident lawyer, we can collect valuable supporting evidence that can help establish blame. Since liability is based on a preponderance of the evidence under Civil Jury Instructions Resource Center’s Civil Plain English Comparison under BAJI 2.60, the evidence we secure will be crucial to securing a favorable outcome.

Determining liability

The individual or entity found viable for causing the accident will be ordered to compensate the victim for their damages in full. Many commercial truck accidents that involve failure to leave enough stopping distance are caused by negligent truck drivers.

Negotiate with insurance companies

Negotiating with insurance companies on your own might not help you get the best possible outcome. This is because some claim adjusters may delay the processing of your claim or even misrepresent the policy terms.

Represent you in court

Since you may not be able to recover the compensation you are entitled to through an insurance settlement, you always need to be ready to go to court. This gives you your best opportunity to maximize your settlement and ensure the at fault party is brought to justice.

Call Text Kevin Accident Attorneys for help

You should not have to go through the personal injury claims process alone. With Text Kevin Accident Attorneys handling your truck accident claim, you can focus on your healing journey while we build a powerful case against those responsible. We are not afraid to go up against massive trucking companies to maximize your settlement.

Consult a top-rated car accident attorney from Text Kevin Accident Attorneys when you are ready to make the liable party pay. Fill out our secured contact form or call our office to schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation today. When you have access to the financial support you need to move forward with your life, you will be glad you did.

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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