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Semi-trucks aren't hard to spot on our roads. Bobtail trucks are critical to our supply chain network, linking producers and consumers throughout the U.S. and beyond. However, trucks also pose a risk to the safety of other road users, including drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Due to their sheer size, trucks often cause catastrophic injuries when they are involved in accidents. For this reason, truckers operating bobtail trucks in Virginia require extra training, insurance coverage, and trucking regulations to keep all road users safe. Training helps drivers learn what to expect when bobtailing.

But will this stop all bobtail accidents in and around Richmond? No. The risk of accidents is even greater when truck drivers bobtail.

What Is Bobtailing?

You've probably seen a bobtailing truck many times on Virginia roads. Or you may have heard the term "bobtailing" after your crash and wondered, "What does bobtailing mean?"

Bobtailing happens when a truck driver operates a semi-truck without an attached trailer. Truckers often drive bobtail trucks on their way to pick up cargo or after dropping off cargo.

While bobtailing may seem much safer, many truckers may be incredibly uncomfortable driving such trucks. A truck's front tires bear most of its weight when no trailer is attached. Rear truck wheels typically don't have much traction while bobtailing, impacting a semi's braking power. This makes controlling and stopping a truck more challenging, posing the risk of deadly accidents.

When bobtail driving, a truck driver requires a lot of distance to come to a stop, increasing the chances of a crash if the driver isn't careful. Detaching the trailer alters the truck's weight ratio, affecting its center of gravity. This increases the risk of skidding during sudden turns, tight curves, swerves, or winding roads.

It's important to note that "bobtailing" isn't the same as "deadheading" in trucking operations. While both terms refer to cargo-free trucks at a specific time, deadheading refers to trucks with an attached but empty trailer or platform.

Causes of Bobtail Truck Accidents

Many factors increase the risk of bobtail truck accidents in Virginia. Here are the common causes and contributing factors of bobtailing truck wrecks.

1. Wet Roads and Weather Conditions

Braking, especially in wet weather conditions, can be tricky. Driving a bobtail truck is particularly dangerous on winding wet roads. A truck driver may easily lose control, sending their truck sliding across the road. Since bobtail trucks have reduced tire traction, drivers should exercise extra caution when operating their trucks on wet roads.

2. Emergency Situations

When a truck is bobtailing, truckers should avoid hard braking and swerving. These actions can cause a driver to lose control of their truck. A truck's braking system assumes the weight will be evenly distributed between the tractor and its attached trailer. It isn't designed to accommodate weight changes as a result of bobtailing. 

Traffic conditions are unpredictable, meaning there are times when a truck driver may have to hard brake or swerve when they are behind the wheel. An emergency situation, such as an unexpected hazard, may force a driver to brake suddenly and lose control. For example, if a car runs a red light, a bobtail truck driver may hit their brakes, but since the truck is bobtailing, the very act of hard braking could lead to a bobtail trucking accident in Richmond.

3. Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is common among truck drivers. Drivers often drive long distances and work consecutive hours while driving bobtail trucks. Pressure to meet deadlines may push drivers to disregard federal truck driver fatigue laws, increasing the risk of truck accidents. 

Lack of sleep significantly affects driving performance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), going too long without adequate sleep can impair one's ability to drive the same way as consuming too much alcohol does.

Drowsiness or fatigued truck driving:

  • Slows reaction times
  • Makes truckers less attentive
  • Affects a trucker's ability to make decisions
  • Makes drivers lose consciousness and fall asleep

Truck accidents become exponentially more dangerous and deadly when truckers fall asleep while driving.

4. Lack of Driving Experience

Lack of adequate experience operating bobtail trucks plays a major role in trucking accidents. Inexperienced semi-truck drivers in the trucking industry who haven't operated bobtails before may encounter problems steering and braking, especially on wet roads.

Other drivers on Virginia roads should also be aware of the risks associated with bobtailing. Non-commercial drivers must drive defensively near such trucks.

What To Do if You're Involved in a Bobtailing Truck Accident

If you suffer injuries after a bobtailing truck accident in Richmond, VA, seek immediate medical care. Your health and well-being are important after a crash. Doing so also ensures you have medical evidence to help you with insurance claims.

Additional steps you can take to protect your personal injury claim include:

  • Contacting 911
  • Gathering and preserving evidence
  • Exchanging information with other involved parties
  • Writing down contact information for witnesses
  • Speaking wisely at the scene
  • Following your doctor's treatment plan
  • Avoiding updates on social media regarding your accident

You should also hire an experienced bobtailing truck accident lawyer from Virginia to represent you. Truck accidents are incredibly complicated, but a knowledgeable lawyer can meticulously investigate the crash, develop a compelling case, and help you recover damages for your injury.

Get in Contact With Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys

Are you wondering how a lighter truck would be more challenging to control or stop? You are not alone. Commonwealth Law Group is here to help you understand bobtailing in trucking and assist you in recovering compensation that offers complete coverage for your current and future medical bills. 

At Commonwealth Law Group, we understand the impact of collisions with heavy trailers and how such accidents affect victims. We will investigate the incident to determine whether the trucker violated any federal or state trucking policy, leading to the bobtailing accident. You can rely on our competent legal team to remain in your corner and stand up for your legal rights throughout the claims process.

Contact us today to speak to our Virginia bobtailing truck accident lawyers and get the ball rolling.

If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.