One of the theory instruction topics that trucking school programs must cover under the latest entry-level driver training (ELDT) guidelines is space management, as well as the related concept of speed management. Both of these are essential for staying safe on the road, so it’s important that you fully understand them.
Simply put, space management is the act of ensuring you have proper space around your vehicle if you need to react to a change in conditions, especially as it relates to following distance. Speed management, similarly, is the act of ensuring your speed will allow you to react in time.
What is the Proper Following Distance for a Semi-Truck?
In normal conditions, there should be at least seven to eight seconds between your semi-truck and the vehicle in front of you. This means that when the back of that vehicle passes a given spot, it should take the front of your vehicle seven to eight seconds to reach that same spot.
If there is inclement weather or other unfavorable conditions, the space between your vehicle and the one in front of you should increase to 14 to 16 seconds.
What About the Space Behind You?
In addition to considering the space in front of the vehicle, you should be aware of the space behind you. Unfortunately, you have limited control over what other vehicles do, and it’s not uncommon for passenger vehicles to closely follow (tailgate) semi-trucks. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and many passenger vehicles do not realize how unsafe this behavior is. If another vehicle is tailgating you, maintain a safe speed, increase the distance in front of you if possible to make room for them to pass, and don’t brake or move suddenly.
Why is Maintaining a Safe Following Distance Important?
All drivers have a responsibility to themselves and to one another to drive safely. For commercial drivers, this is even more essential because of the increased time on the road and the increased size of commercial vehicles. A semi-truck is significantly larger than the standard passenger vehicle and has the capacity to do more damage. Accidents involving semi-trucks are more likely to be severe, and failing to drive safely has serious consequences.
At highway speeds (approximately 65 miles per hour), it takes a semi-truck 200 yards, or the length of two football fields, to come to a stop safely. This is far longer than the average passenger vehicle, and this is another reason why understanding space management is so essential. You need to be confident in your ability to stop your vehicle if conditions change, and you can’t do this if you are following another vehicle too closely.
How Does Speed Management Relate to Space Management?
The faster your vehicle is going, the greater the distance your vehicle will need to travel before it can safely stop. As a result, it’s important to maintain a safe speed. When in doubt, it’s better to go slower and take more time than to drive too fast. This is especially true if the conditions are unfavorable for any reason, such as during inclement weather.
Earn Your CDL in Tucson
If you are interested in a career in trucking, HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get on the road and earning in as little as four weeks. We meet the new ELDT requirements and cover all required topics, including speed and space management.