Half the Truck, Twice as Dangerous: What You Need to Know About Bobtail Trucks

You’ve probably driven down the highway next to massive tractor trailers thousands of times, and yet that moment when you are beside these massive rigs still makes your heart race. Whether you worry that the driver can’t see you, or envision the worst as soon as you see the trailer sway a bit in the wind, it can be frightening to picture a vehicle of that magnitude losing even a bit of control.

When you are driving next to a truck that isn’t hauling a trailer, a configuration that truck drivers call bobtailing, it is natural to feel as though you are facing less risk. After all, the vehicle is smaller and lighter, so if something were to happen the driver could react much more efficiently—right? Wrong. Bobtail trucks require immense skill and concentration to drive, and if you’ve been hurt in an accident involving a truck like this, negligence may be at hand.

Bobtail Trucks: Caution Required

While trucks in a bobtail configuration may look less intimidating, responsible truck drivers around the country know that these trucks require skill, precision, and common sense to drive safely.

How can a vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds less and is nearly 50 feet shorter than a fully-loaded tractor trailer be more challenging to drive? The answer lies in the design. These trucks are designed to haul, so their optimal performance will be achieved when they are hauling weight.

Trucks’ braking and handling performance are made to be at their best when the axles are loaded. A truck’s rear axles are its drive axles, so these tires are responsible for a majority of a truck’s braking power. The front wheels act primarily as steering, and offer much lower braking performance. When a truck is not loaded, the “steer” axle has more weight than the “drive” axles, which greatly degrades stopping power. Picture going down a steep hill on your bicycle, and only using your front brakes—to avoid disaster, extreme care must be used over a greater distance.

Most drivers are aware of the handling characteristics of bobtail trucks, and know to be especially carefully in slick conditions. Younger or less experienced drivers, however, may not have the skills necessary to safely operate a bobtail truck, and could cause an accident if they attempt to brake or steer too quickly.

If you have been hurt in an accident involving a bobtail truck, it may not be just bad luck. The truck driver may have ignored his duties to drive in a manner that permits safe operation in the current conditions, leaving you hurt. To get the compensation you deserve, you’ll need an experienced and tough truck accident attorney, so call Chris Hudson today.