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Why a semi-truck without a trailer is particularly dangerous

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Transportation companies often aim for the highest degree of efficiency possible. That process entails picking up a new load as soon as a driver drops one off with a client. Drivers may meet one another at a designated location so that someone beginning their shift can transport a load the rest of the way to a client, and drivers often have return trips hauling loads from a different city or state back to the main dispatch location for their employers.

Despite the attempt to keep drivers actively hauling for as much of their drive time as possible, sometimes they have to travel quite some distance without a load. They may drive with an empty trailer in some cases, which some people refer to as deadheading, or with no trailer attached at all. While it might initially seem like unloaded trucks or semi-truck tractors not pulling a trailer are safer on the road, they can actually be a bigger crash risk because of how light they are.

Semi-trucks rely on weight to slow down and stop

The traditional braking system used by passenger vehicles employs friction to stop a vehicle. Such solutions are simply not practical when dealing with vehicles that way tens of thousands of pounds. The air brakes on semi-trucks do not suddenly stop working because of leaking hydraulic fluid or other mechanical issues, but they don’t always perform optimally.

A driver without a trailer or an empty trailer may find that they have a significantly increased stopping distance when compared with traveling with a full load. The extra weight in the trailer helps a semi-truck come to a complete stop safely and rapidly despite its massive size.

Semi-truck drivers with empty trailers or no trailer attached at all generally need to be extra cautious in traffic because of how their lack of load affects the operation of a vehicle. Pursuing compensation after a crash involving a semi-truck without a load can sometimes become complicated, especially if the driver was not technically on duty at the time of the collision.

Motorists who understand the factors that affect their likelihood of being involved in a semi-truck collision can take proactive steps to mitigate those risks. In the event that a crash occurs, despite a motorist’s best efforts, learning more about what increases the risk of a wreck can help people evaluate the specific scenarios that led to their injuries and determine whether their circumstances are actionable.