Winter is a tough time for the commercial or owner operator truck driver. Because semi-trucks were designed for hauling cargo, their handling, especially in the winter, isn’t very good as compared to a car. The only thing more difficult to drive in the winter than a tractor-trailer rig, is driving the tractor without a trailer, or bobtailing.
The reason comes down to the fact that the tractor was designed for pulling a heavy trailer. Without the trailer’s weight sitting on the tractor’s drive wheels, the brakes don’t work very well. The drive wheels have less traction with the road when there’s little weight pressing down on them. This is easy to understand when you consider how an empty box is easier to slide along the ground than a box loaded down with hundreds of pounds of equipment. Likewise, the drive tires are quick to slide on the pavement (lock up) when applying the brakes.
When bobtailing, it’s important to be easy on the brakes. Braking is even more difficult in the winter when the roads are slippery with snow. If you hit the brakes too hard, or try to brake with the engine, the wheels will lock up and you’ll lose control. Your best bet is using ABS brakes. They should prevent your wheels from locking up. However, they won’t increase the poor traction of your drive wheels. This means your braking traction is poor and you’ll require a lot of distance to come to a full stop. Make sure you allow lots of following distance.
Bobtailing on slippery winter roads is full of risk, which is why you should make sure you have enough bobtail insurance. It covers your tractor when it is not under dispatch, that is, when you’re using your tractor for personal transportation. If you have questions about bobtail insurance, contact us at J.E.B. Insurance Services, LLC. We provide insurance in the states of Florida, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa & Nebraska.