We have all seen a fully loaded semi-truck on the I-10 and clenched up every time we had to pass one. These vehicles are extremely powerful, heavy, and often carry dangerous materials, which is why trucking accidents are so devastating. However, it may surprise you to know that empty trucks are often just as dangerous as ones that are overloaded.
Deadheading and Bobtailing
When we think of trucks, we often imagine them full of cargo and carrying massive trailers. However, big-rigs and other trucks are often between pick-up points, meaning they are either pulling empty trailers—referred to as deadheading—or do not have a trailer attached—also known as bobtailing. While you may assume both of these situations are safer than a fully loaded truck, the truth of the matter is trucks are at optimal conditions when they have heavy trailers.
The reason behind this is their design. Semi-trucks and big-rigs are specifically manufactured to transport large cargo. When these vehicles are unladen, or without cargo, they have all the speed and power without the added weight to hold them back. For drivers, this can lead to several different issues.
Truck Driver Inexperience
In an ideal world, truck drivers should have extensive experience and training before they started driving full-time. Sadly, this is not always the case, and drivers are often only trained to drive in ideal conditions, which usually means the truck is fully loaded.
However, drivers are not regularly trained to deal with deadheading or bobtailing. While they may know how to properly brake a heavy trailer, braking when the trailer is empty or when there isn’t a trailer can be harder for them. They may inadvertently speed because of the lack of weight holding them back or brake too heavily when coming to a complete stop, causing other vehicles to rear-end them and potentially be pulled under the tires. In addition, the truck’s brakes are usually calibrated to work properly when the truck is fully loaded.
Besides braking, there is also the issue of control. Truck drivers are taught how to properly change lanes or handle turns when they have a heavy load, but not necessarily when the trailer is empty or unattached. A deadheading or bobtailing truck may not have the same stopping power. In fact, the weight is usually pushed to the truck’s front wheels, meaning they are more likely to skid at a sharp turn and lose control of the vehicle.
Weather is also a serious issue. During high winds, a fully loaded trailer will be properly weighted down, meaning it is harder for them to drift. When a truck is deadheading, the trailer can become too light, making it harder for the driver to control it. During a thunderstorm, this could lead to a jackknifing accident or rollover if the roads are wet enough.
Lastly, drivers are often paid by the project, meaning the industry incentives drivers to take on more projects and heavier loads. When they are between deliveries, drivers may be pushed by their employers to rush to the next pick-up point. A deadheading or bobtailing truck could very well drive over the speed limit and, when you take into account the lack of experience, the driver could very be involved in a collision.
At the end of the day, it is the truck driver’s job to maintain control over their vehicles. Even if they are deadheading or bobtailing, they should be aware of how their negligence can cause an accident.
Contact an Experienced Law Firm
Just as truck drivers need extensive experience in all sorts of driving conditions, so do lawyers need to have a thorough understanding of different cases. That is why, if you or someone you love has been in a trucking accident, you need to bring your case to the very best. Not just any personal injury attorney will do, and you will want to reach to a law firm that knows how to go head to head with big trucking companies and their insurance providers.
At Samuel P. Moeller, PLLC., we have the experience, knowledge, and skill that you need after a trucking accident. Not only can we investigate your accident to determine what caused your injuries, but we also review all available insurance policies so that you get the most out of your claim. Whether you were struck by a fully loaded or unladen truck, you need the helping hands of Samuel P. Moeller, PLLC. To learn how we can use all our legal knowledge to help you after an accident, contact our Phoenix truck accident attorneys at (602) 563-6946 and schedule a free consultation.