Logistics Term

What’s Bobtailing?

In trucking, bobtail, commonly referred to as bobtailing, refers to a situation where truckers drive in the absence of an attached trailer. Normally this happens when a truck driver is on their way to collect a loaded trailer for less-than-truckload or a full truckload transport. It can also be used when they are going back to a terminal after unloading a trailer. Additionally, a bobtail can be used to term a truck transporting propane gas by the Department of Energy. Finally, a bobtail truck can mean a truck with every axle connected to the same chassis. Typically, these involve small to medium-sized trucks such as bobtail dump trucks and bobtail delivery trucks. Bobtailing arguably originated from the holiday ‘Jingle Bells’, a breed of cats with short tails.

Everything You Need to Know About Bobtailing

It compares to deadheading in that most drivers do not enjoy its use as trucks and do not give revenue to their full capacity. This is because deadheading trucks do have an attached trailer but are empty. Bobtail trucks are also more challenging to drive. Due to their design intended for carrying heavy trailers, trucks without trailer attachments require extreme care in driving and braking. They demand a longer braking distance despite having less weight. This is because they are more prone to skidding out, especially on turns and tight curves, even when enhanced with anti-lock brakes.

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