When a semi-truck is driving on the highway and does not have a trailer attached to it, it is colloquially referred to as a bobtail. Bobtailing means that the driver is operating only the truck cab, so he or she is not hauling a load of cargo.
When bobtailing, the driver may be traveling from one drop-off job to pick up another job, or the driver may have dropped off the trailer at one location and is driving home, until returning to pick up the trailer the following day.
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Operating a Bobtail Truck
It may seem strange, but a bobtail truck is more difficult to control for the driver than a semi-truck with a trailer attached. The driver may have a more difficult time maintaining the right lane or braking properly when driving a bobtail.
Although it may seem like a truck attached to a trailer with a heavy load is more dangerous for other drivers on the road, the bobtailing truck requires extra care in operation for the driver versus the fully loaded truck.
Bobtailing Means the Driver May Have Difficulty in Braking
When designing a truck, the manufacturer knows that the truck will be operating the majority of the time with a trailer attached and a load inside it. So, the design of the truck cab is made to be safest in the mode in which it most commonly operates.
Bobtailing means that the truck does not have the typical amount of weight over the rear axle, as it does when a trailer is attached to the cab. Without this extra weight, the braking ability of the truck is reduced.
Difficulty in Steering
With the majority of the weight in the front of the truck while in bobtail mode, steering also can be difficult for the operator. The front wheels are not designed to carry the majority of the truck’s weight. Instead, they are designed to control the steering for the truck.
Without a trailer attached to the truck, this odd weight distribution during bobtailing can cause steering issues. The truck may skid when making a sharp or sudden turn. Steering problems become enhanced during tough weather, strong winds, or when driving on wet roads.
Carrying Bobtailing Insurance
Ultimately, because the truck is more difficult to operate as a bobtail, it can lead to a greater chance of accidents with other vehicles on the road. An inexperienced semi-truck driver who has not operated a bobtail often may especially have problems steering and braking.
Florida Statute §316.302 covers commercial vehicle insurance requirements, but because of the dangers of operating a bobtailed truck, truck drivers may choose to carry bobtail liability insurance.
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Seeking a Trusted Truck Accident Attorney
You can count on the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine to understand the laws related to operating semi-trucks. If you have been the victim of an accident with a bobtail truck, you may want to hire a trustworthy attorney to protect your right to seek compensation.
Call us today at 1-800-747-3733 for a free consultation. We work on a contingency-fee-basis, so you do not pay any attorney fees until the case reaches a settlement.