Pulling an empty trailer, otherwise known as deadheading, is unavoidable. It uses up fuel, time, and puts wear on the truck. The driver or his employer isn’t making money because they aren’t transporting a commercial load. On top of this, driving without weight inside the trailer is dangerous. It adversely affects the truck’s handling and makes it vulnerable to a jackknife or a rollover truck accident.
With an empty trailer hitched to the tractor, the drive wheels have little weight on them which reduces their traction. This means the driver can’t brake hard without locking up the drive wheels, especially when the pavement is wet. When the drive wheels lock, the tractor fishtails while the trailer remains straight. This is the classic jackknife. The driver only has a few seconds to recover before the jackknife angle reaches 15 degrees which is the point of no recovery. The driver should let up on the brake and steer with the skid.
In addition to avoiding hard braking, The driver shouldn’t brake unless both the tractor and trailer are lined up in a straight line. This means not braking while going around curves at high speeds or simultaneously braking and swerving. The turning and braking maneuvers are always made separately.
Another problem with having no weight inside the trailer is that it is easily tipped over by strong wind gusts. Without lots of weight to hold the trailer down, it acts like a giant wind sail. Sudden wind gusts can knock the rig out of its lane and even tip the trailer and tractor over. The rig is even more vulnerable while rounding a corner. If a wind gust hits the trailer in the direction of its lean, it may cause a rollover. When driving on gusty days, the trucker should look for signs of wind such as tall grass movement or tree limb motion. The trucker should avoid driving in areas with wind exposure such as high bridges. He should stay clear of traffic clusters while driving on multilane highways, and keep his speed down on both curves and straightaways.
If you were injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for related losses. Contact us for a free consultation.