What Is a Reefer Trailer?

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A large blue truck with a reefer trailer attached having cargo loaded.

There is a good chance that you have spent your entire life depending on reefer trailers, even if you are unaware of this fact. A reefer trailer is a trailer that can be refrigerated to transport commodities that need to be kept at a cool temperature. It could be something as straightforward as the ice cream truck that makes its way through your neighborhood, or it could be a massive semi-truck pulling a refrigerated trailer that transports fresh or frozen groceries.

Vaccines and other potentially life-saving drugs may also be transported across the country and around the world by refrigerated trucks. It is also possible to transport heated commodities using reefer trucks under certain circumstances. The development of the reefer trailer has made it significantly easier to achieve the objective of globalization.

While reefer trucks have become a vital part of our economy, there are some risks. The components on these trucks can be very dangerous, especially in the event of an accident. If you are involved in a wreck with a refrigerated truck in North Carolina you have legal options.

Reefer Truck Trailer Accident in North Carolina

Because reefer trucks often carry very specialized goods, a collision with one of them can be devastating. In some cases, the goods may not be properly loaded, causing a truck to roll over or jackknife. If the truck spills its contents, it may cause a massive traffic pileup while the mess is being cleaned up. In addition, the elements used to keep the trailer cool can be a major issue in a wreck. For instance, the refrigerant may spill on your car or on the road, which can cause major damage. Of course, just the damage from colliding with the truck itself can be devastating, leading to major injuries and property damage. If you have been involved in a reefer truck trailer truck accident in North Carolina, you will benefit from an experienced truck accident attorney to fight back against high-powered insurance and/or trucking company attorneys.

At Tatum & Atkinsons, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ we have a proven track record of winning high-value settlements and verdicts for our clients. We work vigorously to develop an optimal lethal strategy and build the most robust case possible to win your case. We assist our clients with obtaining and assembling compelling evidence to back up your claim. Finally, we provide our clients with peace of mind that can be had when retaining an experienced trucking accident lawyer to represent you and fight for your rights to fair compensation. Obtaining a reefer trailer truck accident attorney allows you to focus on what matters most and spend your energy and time on recovering.

How Do Reefer Trailers Work?

Reefer trailers work as a closed system that removes heat to maintain a steady temperature. Besides the truck itself, there are three main components to a reefer truck. First is the compressor. This is driven by a small engine, and it draws in gaseous refrigerant, which it then compresses into a liquid. That liquid refrigerant gives off heat to the compressor and any air nearby. Second is the condenser. The condenser takes the warm liquid refrigerant from the compressor and exchanges the heat. Basically, all of the liquid travels to the outside of the unit to the attached fins. These fins draw in air from outside to cool to liquid before it goes to the evaporator. The evaporator is the last stop for the refrigerant, and it’s located within the trailer. By now, the refrigerant is a cool liquid. At this point, the refrigerant becomes a gas and expands. It absorbs heat within nearby coils, which cools the trailer. This entire process is repeated over and over until the right temperature is reached.

What is a Reefer Trailer?

Reefer trailers, commonly referred to as refrigerated trailers, are well-insulated and securely fastened to preserve a constant, climate-controlled temperature for goods. Reefer units have a Trailer Refrigeration Unity (TFU) on the front, or “nose,” portion of the trailer, which ensures that chilled temperatures are maintained during the transportation process.Reefer trucks preserve cargo at a consistent temperature rather than lowering it within the trailer to reduce heat buildup during transport. For instance, ice cream will stay frozen during the journey if it is transported.

In contrast to dry van trailers, the walls, ceilings, and floors of reefer trailers are made of fiberglass or metal rather than wood. This aids in insulating the refrigerated truck and guards against odor absorption. Dry van trailers are typically lighter than refrigerated trailers. The weight capacity of a typical 53′ reefer trailer is 43,000 pounds. Due to the need to repair them every three to five years to maintain the caliber and effectiveness of their equipment, reefers are also typically newer than other types of trailers.

In general, refrigerated trailers are 53′ long and almost the same size as semi-trailers. They are equipped with a self-contained trailer refrigeration unit (TRU), an insulated container, air flow, and temperature control to keep goods at a set temperature. Reefer trainers will have the following features:

Insulation: Reefer trailers have firmly sealed doors and foam-insulated walls to create an airtight container that will keep out the cold and the elements.

Good Air Circulation: Maintaining good air circulation in the trailer will assist the cargo stay at a consistent temperature while it is being transported. Typical features of reefers include an air chute that distributes cold air throughout the unit and metal piping laid throughout the floor to allow for appropriate air flow and heat exchange.

Temperature Control: On a control panel on the driver’s side, the temperature of the freight is set. In accordance with the particular requirements of each shipment, the TCU can be utilized to cool or warm the trailer.

What Is the Purpose of a Reefer Trailer?

A reefer trailer may transport any product that must be kept at a specific temperature. Reefer trailers can be used for a variety of shipments, temperature-sensitive commodities, and other uses, and they can meet many specific, individual shipping requirements.

Typical cargo for reefer trailers includes the following:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Candles
  • Flowers
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy items
  • Meats

In order to preserve their integrity and lengthen their shelf life, it is ultimately preferable to transport perishable items utilizing a refrigerated trailer.

Reefer trailers are not only useful for preserving the temperature of the cargo, but they may also be used to preserve it from freezing during the winter. Reefer trailers can shield shipments from the impacts of bad weather by storing goods in a climate-controlled environment.

The History of the Reefer Trailer

Refrigerated vehicles have been around since before cars were invented. Horse-drawn carriages would carry cold goods for short distances using large chunks of ice. In the 1920s, vehicles with cooled containers were used to transport items like fish and meat over short distances, generally to different nearby cities. In the ‘30s, the first vehicles with built-in cooling systems were invented. By 1939, the first portable air cooling unit was created. Since then, the technology has been continually improved to increase efficiency, allow for better temperature control, and increase the distances goods can be transferred.

How Big Are Reefer Trucks?

As mentioned before, reefer trucks come in all shapes and sizes. Typically, they are between 28 and 53 feet. They generally don’t exceed 13.5 feet in height. In addition, the load weight for reefer trucks is limited to 44,000 pounds.

Truck Accident Lawyer in North Carolina

If you or a loved one have been injured by a reefer trailer, do not hesitate to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer in North Carolina at Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ by calling (800) 529-0804 or contacting us online to schedule your case evaluation today. An experienced reefer trailer accident lawyer will represent you in negotiations with the insurance company, explain your legal rights, respond to your inquiries, and seek the best possible outcome for your case. In addition, at Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ you owe us nothing unless we win.