Get to Know the Bobtail Truck

Bobtail trucks are vehicles that operate separately from a trailer and are commonly used in commercial or industrial settings. The term “bobtail truck” originated during the days of horse-drawn carriages, when drivers would shorten the tails of their workhorses to avoid tangling in the sleigh. Some suggest that this term originated from bobtail cats with exceptionally short tails.


Physical Dimensions of Bobtail Trucks

Bobtail trucks are unique vehicles commonly used in the delivery industry due to their versatility. They are based on medium-duty truck models and have a short wheelbase, which makes them maneuverable on tight corners and congested roads. Here are the dimensions of a bobtail truck:

  • Length: 24 feet long with a two-axle cab and chassis frame designed to carry weight behind it.
  • Height: 13 feet and 4 inches.
  • Width: 96 inches.
  • Weight: up to 20,000 pounds.

Operating a Bobtail Truck

Operating a bobtail truck requires caution to avoid overloading the cargo, which can cause an imbalance of weight on the wheels and axles. Drivers must distribute the load equally across all axes to prevent one axle from taking on more weight than it’s designed for. Measuring and inspecting the weight distribution before driving is essential to avoid long-term damage to the vehicle and potential accidents.

Tips for New Drivers

For those new to bobtail truck driving, here are some valuable tips:

  • Understand your “no zones.” These areas are difficult to see in your mirrors or around your vehicle, where collisions may occur more easily with other cars, objects, bicyclists, or pedestrians. Knowing your “no zones” will help you adjust your driving behavior and prevent accidents.
  • Do not overload. Always ensure not to exceed your vehicle’s weight limit and research state or local weight restrictions.
  • Watch your speed. Stay within the advised speed limit and use cruise control where available. Adjust your speed according to visibility and road surface conditions.
  • Properly inspect tires. Check tire pressure levels and wear and tear on each tire before driving.
  • Remain aware. Stay mindful of your situation and surroundings, especially during loading and unloading. Find a safe, flat spot to avoid rollaway.

Difference Between Bobtailing and Deadheading

Bobtailing and deadheading are two distinct practices for hauling cargo with commercial vehicles. The primary distinction between the two is that bobtailing gives drivers more freedom and flexibility because they can pick up and deliver loads without any cargo attached. This can be beneficial in certain circumstances when taking on a full cargo load is not possible or preferable.

Meanwhile, deadheading requires the driver to pull an empty trailer with a truck that can carry cargo. This practice is essential for companies operating larger trucks that must move empty trailers from one place to another due to contractual obligations or other reasons.

Whatever practice you choose, it is essential to always stay safe on the roads by taking all necessary precautions. While bobtailing and deadheading differ, they both require adherence to safety protocols. These include properly maintaining your vehicle, checking tire pressure levels regularly, monitoring speed limits, familiarizing yourself with no-zones, and more. Taking the necessary steps to ensure your safety will help you arrive at your destination on time.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Bobtail Truck?

Utilizing a bobtail truck can benefit many businesses as they provide an excellent solution for transportation needs. Due to their smaller size, they can be used to haul cargo and are more fuel-efficient and cost-effective than larger commercial vehicles. Bobtail trucks also offer drivers greater freedom when carrying a load or deadheading an empty trailer from one place to another, making them the ideal choice for those who need flexibility and want to minimize costs while providing safe and efficient transport services.

Moreover, bobtail trucks are incredibly maneuverable, able to turn around in as little as 180 degrees inside their length, which is a significant advantage over larger commercial vehicles requiring more space to achieve the same performance. Many bobtail models also enhance fuel efficiency compared to conventional trucks and can be outfitted with diesel engines, providing long-term savings related to fuel consumption and repair costs. Furthermore, bobtails can help owners navigate tight urban environments and remote job sites effectively.

Final Thoughts

Utilizing a bobtail truck increases fuel efficiency and maneuverability while offering driving freedom as it doesn’t have to adhere to restricted routes or schedules like larger trucks do. Bobtailing and deadheading are the two practices for hauling cargo with commercial vehicles like bobtail trucks. Knowing the difference between the two is especially important for businesses that rely on commercial vehicle transportation services so that they can choose the best option.



About the author, Laurence Perkins

Laurence Perkins is the passionate car enthusiast behind the blog My Auto Machine. With over a decade of experience in the automotive industry, Perkins has knowledge and experience with a wide range of car makes and models. His particular interests lie in performance and modification, and his blog covers these topics in-depth. In addition to his own blog, Perkins is a respected voice in the automotive community and writes for various automotive publications. His insights and opinions on cars are highly sought-after.