ABC15 Traffic Anchor Megan Thompson went to the experts in Phoenix to see how they train big rig drivers and how everyday commuters can help make the ride safer.

“The first thing that we always tell our students is trucks are built for power, not speed,” said Adam Chambliss. “So, take your time. It’s not a race.”

Chambliss is the Assistant Training Department Manager at Southwest Truck Driver Training in Phoenix. He helps fill our road with drivers who understand the impact their steering can have on safety.

“We understand that no one wants to be behind the big, slow truck,” Chambliss said. “However, the big, slow truck… once it’s moving, it takes a lot longer to stop than it does for your car.”

ABC15 received an email to the Operation Safe Roads hotline from Nicki. She travels frequently on Interstate 10 between the Valley and Tucson and is often sharing the road with semi-trucks.

Nicki wrote: “ABC should do a segment with truck drivers to bring awareness to how long it takes a semi to stop… and that truck drivers intentionally leave extra space to be able to stop.” She went on to write, “I think bringing awareness to this can help people avoid putting themselves in dangerous positions in stop-and-go traffic and back-ups.”

“It takes a lot more time for a truck to slow down than a car does,” Chambliss explained.

Chambliss was more than willing to help give ABC15 and Nicki the expert perspective and it’s something all drivers can learn from.

He said if a semi-truck driver is on the road and is traveling between 55 and 65 miles per hour, it can take 250 to 300 feet to come to a full stop after slamming on the brakes.

That means it would take the driver about the length of the Statue of Liberty to come to a complete stop.

Chambliss said you should remember what it takes for that big rig to slow down when deciding to cut them off. These truck drivers are leaving space for a reason.

“You want to make sure you leave at least three to five seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you,” Chambliss said. “That can increase or decrease depending on, you know, weather situations or traffic for that matter… for our drivers, we encourage at least a 10-second rule.”

As for being stuck behind the slow semi-truck, Chambliss said drivers should take that as a reminder to slow down themselves.

Have a road issue or a question for the Operation Safe Roads team? Call 833-AZ-ROADS or email