Why do they call it a Bobtail truck?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Why do they call it a Bobtail truck? We will explain what type of truck is called a Bobtail truck and give you a few tips on safe driving. We will also define the types of trucks that exist and what are the main differences between them. 

Why do they call it a Bobtail truck?

A Bobtail truck is called that way because it is compared to a breed of cat that shares the same name. The Bobtail cat has a stubby “bobbed” tail, while a bobtail truck is just a truck without a trailer attached to it. 

Two types of trucks bear the nickname “bobtail”. Both are short, like the tail of a bobcat. One of them is a semi-tractor without a trailer. The other is a simple truck, in which all the axles of the truck are attached to the same chassis. Straight trucks that haul propane gas are also known as tank trucks.

  • Semi-short trucks: In trucker jargon, a bobtail is the tractor part of a semi-trailer. Typically, truckers “run bobtail” when they have no trailer to pull. For example, when they leave a loaded trailer to their destination and must drive to a new location to pick up a different trailer, the tractor is alone because it is shorter than a tractor and trailer, called a bobtail.
  • Short and straight trucks: The United States Department of Energy calls for a simple truck used to carry a propane bobtail. DoE says these trucks are fueled by propane and have a significantly shorter tank than other oil transport trucks.

Are Bobtail trucks challenging to drive?

Bobtail trucks, which are heavy-duty trucks, can be difficult to manoeuvre and very dangerous in an accident. To drive them, it is important or even imperative that you have the following skills:

  • Vigilance: Even if you are sure of your talent as a driver, you cannot be sure of the talents of other road users. Therefore, you must keep an eye open to monitor the driving of the cars around you in traffic.
  • Caution: you must be careful while driving not to take unnecessary risks such as necessarily wanting to pass when you have right of way, but unfortunately another driver is trying to force a passage.
  • Responsiveness: driving a heavy truck also requires having very good reflexes and a readiness to react in certain cases. You must be alert to make the best decisions very quickly in the face of danger and the vagaries of the road. This can help you avoid serious accidents.
  • Total mastery of the vehicle: it is possible to obtain a driving license without having complete mastery of heavy-duty trucks. To not endanger your life and that of other road users, it is recommended that you seek to have almost perfect control.
  • Knowledge of basic mechanical gestures: in addition to the mechanical training obtained when passing the permit, you should train yourself to have more knowledge in the field.

What to avoid doing when driving a Bobtail truck

To drive a heavy-duty truck, you must absolutely avoid:

  • do it when you are sleepy;
  • be in a state of intoxication;
  • being under the influence of psychotropic drugs;
  • being in unstable emotional states;
  • be distracted.

If all of these conditions are met, you can easily drive a Bobtail truck. 

Is it dangerous to drive a Bobtail truck?

There are many rumours that overloaded trucks come with a lot of risks. While this is the real fact, there are many reasons for the bobtail truck to be a dangerous form of transportation:

  • They are difficult to manoeuvre: Normally the front wheels are the steer wheels. They provide adequate control of automobiles and are less load-bearing. However, a bobtail truck overturns the structure. To be more precise, the front wheels carry most of the load. This makes it difficult for the owners to control the car.
  • They have a different braking system: Another reason is its braking system. The truck’s brake system is located on the rear wheels. And the reason is that the design of the truck is mainly based on the load conditions.

The bobtail truck configuration reduces stopping power based on the limited weight on the rear wheels. To be more precise, when the driver presses hard on the brake, the rear wheels will seize up and the truck will try to pivot around the front wheels.

  • Pay attention to friction: Friction is the enemy of all types of trucks, and the bobtail truck is no exception. Since the frictional force is the truck’s main engine, less weight on the rear wheel creates less friction. Lack of adequate frictional force can result in skidding. 

Along with this, it potentially forces the automobile to overturn during tight turns or tight turns. Not to mention that Bobtailing is extremely dangerous on snowy or wet roads. This is because the frictional force between the tires and the road decreases considerably.

  • Speed is your enemy: Finally, a bobtail truck can move much faster than a loaded truck. However, this increases the risk of an accident. The compressibility of the spring suspension does not work properly due to a lack of freight. Another thing to know is that the braking distance of the truck increases considerably during bobtailing. A large space between the truck and other vehicles is therefore imperative at all times.

The different types of trucks (and the differences between them)

The truck is a vehicle weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, commonly referred to as a heavy goods vehicle. This vehicle is intended for the transport of goods. Depending on its use, it is available in many models which are subject to very precise regulations. There are several types of trucks: straight trucks and road tractors, of which here are a few short descriptions.

  • A tank truck: The tank truck is used to transport liquids or gaseous products for the chemical and food industry in particular. The tank truck can have a very different tank depending on the products it is transporting.
  • The dump truck: This carrier truck is used for all types of public works or roads. Depending on its use, the equipment can be very varied. It can be equipped with one to three tippers as well as an auxiliary crane which can be installed on a chassis or on the cab of the truck. It is commonly used to transport sand, earth, and gravel.
  • The refrigerated truck: Widely used in the transport of perishable goods, the refrigerated truck has an insulated body fitted with a generator allowing the production of cold. This truck allows the transport over long distances of perishable goods but also other heat-sensitive products (chemicals for example). The temperature inside the insulated box can be regulated between -25 ° C and + 25 ° C.
  • The Ampliroll truck: The Ampliroll truck is a truck with an articulated arm system. This allows the carrier to be fitted with different bodies as needed. The bodies can be skips, trays or even containers.
  • The flatbed truck: This heavyweight is a transport truck intended to transport bulky products, even of great length (beam, automobiles, etc.). Sidewalls arranged on it make it possible to better hold the goods.
  • The truck carrier: The truck carrier is dedicated to exceptional convoys with extraordinary dimensions and weights (pieces of planes for example).
  • The box truck: The box truck is a truck equipped with a box body. It is used for the transport of goods or materials. The box body can be refrigerated for the transport of frozen food, for example. 

The truck market is growing every year and many manufacturers such as Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Man (Machineryzone Partner), continue to create many derivatives of each model because the needs are not necessarily the same, depending on utility or country.

  • Other types of trucks: There are also other types of trucks, among others, the log carrier mainly dedicated to the transport of timber. There is also the crane truck. Note also the livestock truck, the use of which is mainly dedicated to the transport of livestock.

The bottom line

Driving a Bobtail truck is not that difficult, but keep in mind that you need to always be aware of the surroundings and to keep your distance. We remind you that a Bobtail truck is called that way because it is compared to a breed of cat that shares the same name. The Bobtail cat has a stubby “bobbed” tail, while a bobtail truck is just a truck without a trailer attached to it. 

If you have more questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Why do they call it a Bobtail truck?

Why is it called a semi-truck?

A semi-truck is short for a semi-trailer truck, and it is called that way because its structure is composed of a semi-trailer for carrying the cargo and a semi-tractor for the engine power. 

What is the best brand of American trucks?

The motto of the Americans is “The bigger the truck, the better.” This can be seen perfectly reflected in the best American truck brands such as Kenworth, Mack, Freightliner, Western Star, Peterbilt or International Trucks.

What are straight trucks?

Straight trucks are also known as box trucks, and they are vehicles with fixed trailers.  They have all the amenities for passengers to travel comfortably. In addition, the rear box allows a greater load capacity than any trunk.

What are truck tractors?

A truck tractor is a set of vehicles made up of a tractor unit and a semi-trailer. What distinguishes a semi-trailer from a normal trailer is that these vehicles are designed to be coupled to the tractor.


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