Emergency Brake that Prevents Runaway Semi-Trucks from Jackknifing

Technology #14103

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Carl D. Crane
Wilfred Baker
Shannon Ridgeway
Managed By
Richard Croley
Assistant Director 352-392-8929

The University of Florida is seeking companies interested in commercializing a ground-engaging braking mechanism that quickly reduces speed without causing a semi truck to jackknife. Semi-trucks, also called “18-wheelers” and “big rigs,” typically measure 53 feet long and can carry up to 80,000 lbs of cargo – the weight of 20 standard cars – at highway speeds. Such weight puts a significant burden on these 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 continues moving forward and swivels to the side as it hurtles toward the cab. In the U.S. alone, semi accidents kill approximately 5,000 people a year and cost more than $20 billion. The Bud-E-Bar braking mechanism developed by University of Florida researchers is designed 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


  • Prevents semi-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, trailers or planes


The Bud-E Bar braking system is comprised of a customizable bar that makes contact with the road when activated. The bar is activated by a motion sensor, which causes the bar to deploy. When the driver steps on the brake, a signal is transmitted to the sensors that detect if the vehicle is continuing to move forward after the brakes have been applied. An optional switch inside the cab will also allow drivers to activate the Bud-E Bar manually.