The Official Blog of Penske Transportation Solutions
Penske truck driving safely on a bridge

Summer Reminder: Don't Speed or Tailgate

You may think distracted driving and DUIs cause the largest amount of traffic accidents each year — and you'd be right. But did you know that speeding is #3 on the list?

In 2020, speeding caused nearly 3 out of every 10 fatal crashes, according to the National Safety Council. And the number of motor vehicle deaths keeps rising at an alarming rate. In 2021, highway crashes led to more than 46,000 fatalities, up 9% from 2020 and 18% from 2019.

As Americans plan their summer road trips and hit the highways, commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers should practice extra caution and follow these golden rules of safe driving: Don't speed, don't tailgate, and drive defensively based on current traffic and road conditions.

What is a proper speed?

Always drive within the posted speed limit. Also, adjust your speed for any adverse weather conditions. When roads are wet, you should reduce your speed by one-third, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

If the speed limit is 60 MPH in ideal (dry) driving conditions, you should travel 40 MPH when the road is wet.

Driving over the speed limit — or going too fast on wet roads — reduces your reaction time in case of emergency. In addition, the faster you travel, the harder you'll hit another object or motorist in the event of an accident.

Driving a safe speed can also save you money. Your truck's MPG goes down significantly for each MPH over 60 that you drive, says the U.S. Department of Energy.

What is the proper following distance?

While the three-second rule (keep three seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you, counting one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand) is a good guide, it's not the most accurate. The best measure is to keep a following distance of at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length. Add one more second if you're driving faster than 40 MPH.

For example:
Tractor-trailer length: 50 feet

Speed: 50 MPH

Following distance:
1 second x 5 feet = 5 + 1 second for speed over 40 MPH = 6 Seconds Following Distance

That recommended following distance is a minimum. In rain or other bad weather, you should double your following distance. Remember, large vehicles take longer to stop than passenger vehicles. Keeping a proper following distance will help prevent your chances of a rear-end collision, a common cause of highway accidents.

Another wise summer driving safety tip: Be patient. Speeding and tailgating are both forms of aggressive driving and are not good representations of a professional driver. The more patience you show on the road, the safer you'll be.