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Emergency Brake that Prevents Runaway Semi-Trucks from Jackknifing

Engages Road Surface to Equalize Braking for Improved Driver Control

This ground-engaging braking mechanism quickly reduces speed without causing a semi-truck to jackknife. Semi-trucks, also called "18-wheelers", “tractor-trailers” and "big rigs," typically measure 53 feet long and can carry up to 80,000 pounds of cargo—the weight of 20 standard cars—at highway speeds. Over two million semi-trucks operate within the United States. The weight of these trucks puts a significant burden on the trucks’ braking systems. Over time, friction and heat wear down brake shoes, rendering them hard and smooth. A glazed shoe won’t grip as effectively, making it difficult to stop. At 55 mph, even a properly functioning semi-truck requires 100 yards, the length of a football field, to stop. In an emergency, a driver may need to pound the brakes, which increases the risk of jackknifing—a situation where the back end of a semi-truck continues moving forward and swivels to the side as it hurtles toward the cab. In the U.S. alone, semi-truck accidents kill approximately 3,500people a year and cost more than $20 billion in damages. Researchers at the University of Florida have designed the Bud-E-Bar braking mechanism to allow the driver to maintain control by equalizing the trailer braking system under adverse driving conditions, including snow, ice, wet roads, slippery terrain, mountains, and hills. This technology has the potential to reduce the number of semi-truck accidents, saving lives and reducing property damage.



Braking mechanism that slows down runaway semi-trucks and prevents jackknifing



  • Reduces the speed of semi-trucks rapidly while simultaneously preventing the trucks from jackknifing on roads and highways, potentially saving lives
  • Gives drivers added control over the vehicle, preventing accidents
  • Prevents loss of freight and property damage, saving time and money
  • Uses customizable components, allowing application to vehicles of different sizes, such as trailers or planes


The Bud-E-Bar braking system employs customizable components to achieve rapid, safe braking of a semi-truck. The system activates via motion sensor, causing the mechanism to deploy. When the driver steps on the brake, a signal transmits to the sensors, which detect if the vehicle is continuing to move forward after applying the brakes. Once deployed, a pad member makes contact with the surface of the road. The pressure between the pad and the road surface slows the truck down. An optional lever inside the cab may also allow drivers to activate the Bud-E-Bar manually and to increase the pressure between the pad member and the road. The braking system then employs the retraction sequence, disengaging the pad member from the road and returning the assembly to its original position.

Research Terms: Engineering > Mechanical Engineering
Keywords: braking, collision prevention, jackknife,;
Technology Inventors: Wilfred Baker
Carl Crane
Shannon Ridgeway
Technology Information URL:
University: University of Florida
Tech Transfer URL:

Associated Patents

Patent Name: Ground-engaging vehicle braking system and methods for using the same
Patent Number: US Patent 8,827,047
Patent Status: Issued
Issue Date: September 9, 2014
Patent Record: View full record at google patents
View full record at United States Patent and Trademark Office
Patent Inventors: Wilfred Baker
Shannon Ridgeway
Carl Crane

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