Double-trailer Truck Safety Considerations
Last updated Thursday, March 9th, 2023
If one is good, are two better? Two times the goods can be pulled with tandem trailers. However, this convenience comes at a high price. Hauling a double adds danger to an already risky trip. Threats spill out onto roadways. Now truckers put us all in harm’s way.
One type of long combination vehicle (LCV) is a double-trailer truck. Tractors towing trailers can form these types of trucks. You get double the cargo with a single vehicle and solo driver. This option is more eco-friendly. Convenience factors in too. Trailers can be unloaded individually.
Advantages aren’t without drawbacks. Take the size. Two trailers are heavier. They’re longer too. Doubling up means drivers need that much more room for even simple moves. Regulations help reduce risks.
Double-trailer truck drivers face unique challenges. But those struggles should not become yours. If you’ve been hit by one of these trucks, you may be entitled to compensation. Rebein Law is your go-to source when you’ve been injured in an accident. We’re here to make your life easier. Our team can show you show how.
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Safety Considerations for Double-trailer Trucks
Towing more than one trailer is no Sunday drive. Scaredy-cats need not apply. Pulling any trailer can be a chore but transporting two takes grit. Hauling empty trailers (deadheading) and driving a bobtail (tractor without a trailer) may be even less safe.
Liam Neeson didn’t seem to be doing much repair in ‘The Ice Road.’ Everyday rules are different. Truckers need more than gas and a dream. Lawyers at Rebein Law have seen too many crashes that could have been prevented with upkeep. Solving double-trailer truck problems can be as simple as checking:
- Take a hard pass at worn brake pads and lines. It doesn’t matter how fast you can go if you can’t stop.
- Leaks are suspect. Every part of trucks and trailers needs to be road-worthy.
- Safety can be as easy as tuning on lights. Bulbs not working? Then there’s a problem. Light the way to save the day.
- Trailers need to be safe before cargo even enters the picture. Chains, ratchet straps and winches should be in working order, then checked again after load is secured.
- The height should be positioned to ride at a safe level. Any damages or missing parts need to be addressed. Pressure in air springs is important too.
- If trucks were people, tires would be the feet. Now what happens when these feet can’t support the load going at high speeds? A truck without lug nuts is a tragedy waiting to happen.
Everyone can’t handle this gig. Hauling doubles requires advanced know-how. Bookwork provides a baseline. Skills can be tested in practice drives. Mastering the technique is done by getting experience.
Attorneys at Rebein Law knows training saves lives. Our law firm handles cases all the time that could have been avoided if truckers knew what to do.
Operating an LCV is much different than driving a semi. State Commercial Driver License (CDL) manuals are a good starting point. Studying the section on doubles is recommended. Topics like preventing rollovers and backing up are covered.
Taking practice quizzes show what areas need work. A written exam checks drivers’ knowledge. An endorsement to pull doubles is earned with a qualifying score of 80 or above.
Skills covered typically include:
- Avoiding Rollovers. Loading freight low towards the center is key. Taking turns and curves slowly enough can also help prevent trucks from flipping.
- Backing up. Driving in reverse is totally different when there’s a trailer or two involved. Learning this skill may take some dedication.
- Connecting Trailers. There’s no forgetting about these hookups. If done incorrectly, thousands of pounds of cargo could get loose in traffic.
- Driving Over Railway-highway Crossings. Not meeting at the same level spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Trailers with low undercarriage clearance may get stuck. Having a plan for this situation is critical.
- Handling Cargo. Trucks run smoothly when freight is loaded properly. And for doubles – the lower to the ground, the better. Cargo must be locked when loaded. Correct distribution helps prevent shifting.
- Managing Speed. A lead foot causes terrible accidents. Factor in less traction for even more danger. Safe drivers keep their speed in line as roads change. Weather conditions, visibility, traffic and curves must all be considered.
- Nixing Skids. Lightweight and empty trailers can be challenging. Trailers may start spinning out when wheels lock up. Learning how to prevent a jackknife from happening can mean life or death.
- Staying in Compliance. State and federal regulations are in place for specific reasons. Rules concern more than just weight, length and routes. Changes happen. Drivers and owners must stay on top of updates.
- Steering. Pulling a double means focusing on the wheel. Moving too quickly can lead to rollovers. Smooth and steady is the way.
- Stopping in Time. Several things effect how long it takes to stop. Speed, road surface conditions, weight and weather all matter. Adding another trailer increases stopping time. Brakes can be used early on if there’s plenty of distance.
- Turning Properly. The longer a truck is, the less the last wheels will stay on the same course as the tractor. Buttonhook turns work well.
- Using Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Lane departure warning (LDW) lets drivers know if they’re drifting. Automatic emergency braking (AEB) can apply brakes to avoid collisions. Skidding, lack of traction and even rollovers can be aided by electronic stability control (ESB). Keeping ADAS on while driving saves lives.
Government Regulations for Double-trailer Trucks
Safety standards are set. These guidelines are outlined at both the federal and state levels. Staying in compliance means following these rules. Cutting corners isn’t worth a violation.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Regulations
This branch of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) sets commercial trucking standards. Regulations help safeguard our nation’s roads. Risk is reduced with the trucking industry’s cooperation.
State Regulations for Double-trailer Trucks
Generally, federal and state governments work together to ensure safety is upheld. Each state may have additional rules, especially concerning size. Gross weight must not exceed state limits. Certain exemptions may apply.
Solutions may be found in a CDL manual. Referencing this handbook makes staying compliant easier. So, for example in Florida, rules can be reviewed in the CDL manual provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).
Compliance with Federal Bridge Formula and Weight Limits
Reaching a destination in Florida without crossing a bridge isn’t easy. Waterways dot the landscape here. Bridges simplify travel but aren’t indestructible. Congress stepped in to protect these structures as vehicles got larger and traffic increased.
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Bridge Formula Weights now outlines the rules. The basic idea is simple. Spread out, weight has much less impact than when compressed. There’s less wear and tear when heavy loads are well distributed. A truck’s specs are plugged into the formula. Then weight can be arranged properly. Voila! Problem solved!
Safety Inspections and Maintenance Requirements
Just like other commercial motor vehicles weighing 10,000-plus, double-trailer trucks must be inspected at least once a year. Regular DOT checks help trucking professionals stay on their A-game. The object is for truckers to be prepared at all times.
There are different levels of inspection. Trucks and trailers are just the beginning. Much of the process involves making sure drivers are sober and safe. Documentation needed may include:
- Carrier identification
- Current CDL
- Driver credentials with correct endorsement
- Hours of service log
- Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC)
- Record of duty status
- Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate
- Vehicle inspection report
Using a checklist can help drivers know what to expect. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) offers a North American Standard Roadside Inspection Vehicle Cheat Sheet.
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Guarding our roadways may be overlooked when trying to save a buck. But money can’t replace what a rig could wipe out in a hot second. Double-trailer truck safety cannot be understated. Safety should never take a backseat.
Everyone can make a difference. Safeguarding our roads starts with a single thought. Enough time and talent can turn that idea into a new safety feature or regulation. Industry professionals must continue to step up: lives hang in the balance.
Was a loved one injured by a trucker hauling a double? Rebein Law is the firm you can trust. Tell us what happened. We’ll give you our best legal advice. Our attorneys double down on double-trailer truck accident cases.
Trucking companies don’t have to settle for doing the bare minimum. High standards can be set. Truckers can rise to the occasion. When working together, a huge impact can be made.
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