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What Is Bobtail Trucking and Why It’s a Dangerous Practice?

In the transportation industry, bobtail trucking refers to the practice of driving a tractor without a trailer attached. When a driver drops off a load but has yet to pick up another, this is a regular practice. Bobtailing is unfavorable for trucking businesses since they lose money on empty trucks, and it can also be extremely risky.

Why’s Bobtailing Dangerous?

Bobtailing can endanger truckers and other drivers on the road. One of the most serious risks of bobtailing is decreased stability. The tractor is more prone to toppling over without the added weight and support of a trailer, especially while taking curves or traveling in high winds. Because the braking system is designed to slow the weight of a fully loaded trailer, the driver may have difficulties adjusting the truck’s speed.

Furthermore, bobtailing can inflict wear and tear on the truck’s tires, brakes, and suspension, leading to maintenance problems and breakdowns. This could lead to expensive repairs and downtime for the transportation company.

Why’s Bobtail Trucking Undesirable for Transportation Companies?

As previously stated, trucking businesses take a loss when a truck is traveling without a trailer. This is because they only get money when the truck is transporting a load. Bobtailing also consumes more fuel, which can further reduce a trucking company’s profit margins.

Tips for Fleets to Avoid Bobtailing as Much as Possible

While it might not always be possible to eradicate bobtailing entirely, trucking companies can take numerous efforts to reduce it. These are some examples:

  1. Route Optimization – Trucking businesses can reduce the amount of time a vehicle spends bobtailing by optimizing routes. This can be accomplished by coordinating pickups and drop-offs to reduce the distance between them.
  2. Load Planning – Trucking businesses can arrange their loads to reduce empty miles. This includes loading trucks to capacity whenever possible and assigning drivers loads that will take them to regions where they’re likely to locate another one.
  3. Incentives – Trucking companies might provide incentives to drivers who reduce their bobtailing. These might include bonuses or other incentives for drivers that find loads promptly or avoid bobtailing entirely.
  4. Purchasing More Trailers – Purchasing additional trailers can assist trucking companies in reducing the amount of time their trucks spend bobtailing. They can rapidly pick up a new load since there are additional trailers available, rather than needing to wait for one to become available.

Bottom Line

And thus, while bobtailing is a common habit in the trucking sector, it entails various dangers and is unfavorable to trucking companies. Trucking businesses can reduce the amount of time their vehicles spend bobtailing by optimizing routes, proper load planning, offering incentives, and investing in trailers. This improves safety and profitability.

Truck Insurance Quotes can assist trucking companies in saving money by allowing them to evaluate coverage and pricing choices from various providers and find areas where they can decrease risk exposure and lower rates. Give us a call today to start saving!


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