With so many things to concern yourself with in the trucking industry, is bobtail insurance high on your list of what’s important? Or are you focused on things like truck maintenance, making sure your drivers have their CDL and proper endorsements, government regulations, finding loads, and such?
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Oh I am sure you know the importance of bobtail insurance. Not just the legal requirement to actually have and maintain your current policy, after all you don’t want to get fined and hurt your safety rating. There are also the other obvious reasons to cover your truck and important truck equipment, in case of an accident being a main one. Then we can’t forget the most important reason, the driver and other potentially injured people. He/she needs to be protected from the high cost of medical care while at the same time receiving the care they need.
As I said previously, in the trucking world there are so many concerns:
- Maintenance: (tires, brakes, lights, mirrors, fluids/oils, etc.)
- Regulations (federal, state, local, contractual, company, and industry related)
- Loss Prevention (theft of product, fuel misuse/siphoning, missing equipment)
And the list goes on and on. What about staffing, office staff and drivers salaries, equipment, truck office expenses and insurance? But there is even so much more to stress about. It could make one really wonder, “Is it all worth it”? Well yes it is, if you are prepared and have everything in order and take care of the little things, including your bobtail insurance.
What is Bobtailing?
That is a great question! Obviously it’s important enough to not only have it as a key industry related term, but even requires special ‘bobtail insurance’. It is funny when one thinks of all the various terms and trucker codes used in the trucking world! Especially those, that at first glance have nothing to do with trucking. Here are just a few:
- Cat walk – the space between the truck’s cab and the trailer
- Neighbor – refers to other truckers and/or other big trucks
- Yard – refers to the parking or staging area for the trucks
That is just a couple of the hundreds of common terms used I the trucking industry. As you can see, they also have an entirely different meaning to those who don’t drive large class 8 trucks. Catwalk, the runway used by models to display fashion. Neighbor, is someone who lives close to you. Yard, it’s the grassy area outside most houses (or the outside exercise space in prison).
Bobtail also has a non-industry definition. It can refer to a type of short tailed cat. It also refers to anything that has had its tail trimmed (much like the bobbed haircut refers to short hair fashion worn by some women).
But in the trucking industry it refers to the bobtail truck. Just like the pet without the tail, so too is the bobtailed truck. It actually is a term for when the truck is in use without the trailer attached. So like the animal without its tail so is the truck without its trailer.
People often have the misconception that is easier and safer to drive this way. Well, anyone who has tried can tell you it isn’t, especially on wet surfaces. But wait! Aren’t the semi truck’s tires and brakes designed to handle 80,000 pounds when it comes to stopping? So why would it be an issue if the weigh was not there?
Well, it is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t driven a bobtail on a rainy day. The fact is, it’s much harder to slow and stop a trailer less truck because the missing weight makes for less traction on the rear wheels.
Think of it this way; why do most people put sand in the bed of their pick-up in the winter? To add weight, this increases the traction. You take the weight out and the light rear-end will slide all over the road.
When the truck is hauling the trailer there is approximately 10,000 pounds (actually more) pushing down on the rear axles. This adds more weight pushing the tires down, thus giving more traction. Without that added weight there is hardly any weight over the rear axles. Most of a truck’s weight is in the front (the engine, cab, passengers, and even the body of the truck), but virtually none on the back.
So why does this cause a problem? Well just like the small pick-up truck without sand in the bed, the truck won’t handle any better than a bicycle with only front brakes when it comes to sudden stops. The backend will swerve and slide, basically have a mind all its own.
Think about it, if you stop suddenly all the momentum is pulling you forward, without a trailer what is there to hold the backend down? I am not saying the entire truck will flip, but the back will raise causing less surface area of the tire to touch the actual ground. Not only will this increase you stopping time but you could lose control of the vehicle (much like the bicycle rider going downhill with only front brakes.)
Now I guess you can see why there arose a need to have actual bobtail insurance. So then this will of course lead to another good question.
What Is Bobtail Truck Insurance?
Bobtail insurance, what it is and why do you need it? One would think insurance is insurance, wouldn’t you? Well yes and no. Insurance companies operate differently, though they all must follow the same Federal guidelines by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). That means that some will provide it while others offer it as a separate item.
Bobtail insurance is just like any other insurance really when you think about it. When you get health insurance, there is medical, vision, and dental. When you get regular car insurance there is liability, uninsured motorist, collateral damage, and etc. So the same basic concept is applied when you get bobtail insurance. Make sure it is included in your policy!