A rear-end collision at the intersection of General Booth Boulevard and Hubbell Drive in Virginia Beach, VA, highlighted one of the greatest dangers posed by negligent commercial truck drivers.


The crash happened when a tanker truck slammed into the back of a Toyota Corolla that was stopped at a red light. The collision sent two sisters, aged 3 and 4, to the hospital with serious injuries. Both of the toddlers were secured in car safety seats, and they survived.

Police did not have an immediate explanation for why the truck driver failed to stop in time. Whether the person behind the wheel of the tanker truck was speeding, operating with bad breaks, fatigued or distracted, the biggest problem is that the truck driver did not begin slowing down in time.

Consider this explanation of required vehicle stopping distances from the Utah Department of Transportation:


A typical tractor-trailer or other large truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds by law. Most passenger vehicles are about 3,000–4,000 pounds. A passenger vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds, traveling under ideal conditions at a speed of 65 miles per hour would take 316 feet to stop (nearly the length of a football field). In comparison, a fully loaded tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds traveling under ideal conditions at a speed of 65 miles per hour will take 525 feet to stop (almost the length of two football fields).


The speed limit on General Booth Boulevard is lower than 60 mph, but the principle holds. Unless the driver a large, heavy truck recognizes the need to stop early and responds appropriately, everyone ahead is in deadly danger. Even slowed down by emergency braking, a 40-ton truck will inflict a great deal of damage on anything it hits.

I know from my decades of experience as an attorney for people who were killed or injured by negligent commercial truck drivers that even minor errors can result in irreversible tragedy. I acknowledge that it can seem unfair to demand perfection from anyone who is just doing his or her job. At the same time, when other people pay for momentary lapses in attention or inadvertent traffic violations with their health and lives, perfect performance behind the wheel by truck drivers must be the standard.