What Does "Bobtail" Mean In Trucking? - The Law Glossary

What Does “Bobtail” Mean In Trucking?

Bobtailing

Definition:

Driving a cargo carrying truck (semi-truck) without a trailer attached. Be careful not to confuse “bobtailing” with “deadheading,” which happens when driving a cargo carrying truck pulling an empty trailer, i.e., containing no cargo. Bobtailing often happens when a contracted truck driver is first sent out from dispatch to their pick up site.

source: iStockphoto
source: iStockphoto

Additional use in trucking:

A “bobtail” also refers to a straight truck transporting (and sometimes running on) propane gas. This is a term designated by the U.S. Department of Energy.

source: iStockphoto
source: istockphoto.com

Forms also used:
– Bobtail, bobtailed
– Bobtail truck
– Running bobtail


Examples of use:

– Cynthia just dropped her trailer off with the client, now she’s bobtailed for the night at a comfy truck stop.
– Jim only needs a small space to park his bobtail for the evening.
– I lost my trailer in a Vegas poker match, guess I’ll be bobtailing it back home to Sacramento.

Trucker slang for bobtailing:
Horse with no wagon

Other meanings of “bobtail”:

Bobtail – An Old English Sheepdog breed that has its tail typically cut short or completely removed soon after birth.

source: iStockphoto

Bells on bobtail ring – In the song, “Jingle Bells,” a bobtail refers to the tail of a horse, with the hair cut short so that it does not get caught in the reins while pulling a sleigh.

Check out more common trucker terms & essential legal terms in The Lawyer Glossary.