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What Are Jackknife Accidents?

| July 31, 2020

Accidents between two passenger vehicles are dangerous enough, but accidents between a passenger vehicle and a large semi-truck can be devastating. This is because trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles. They also take much more time to stop, which reduces a truck driver’s ability to quickly and safely react to developing traffic conditions. While trucks can and do get into the same types of accidents as passenger vehicles (e.g., rear-endings, head-on collisions, t-bone collisions, etc.), jackknife accidents are unique to trucks.

Below, we will explain why and how jackknife accidents occur.

Why Jackknife Accidents Occur

Trucks are composed of two separate parts: a cab, where the driver sits, and a trailer, which holds the cargo. Although these two sections are connected to each other, they are capable of moving independently under certain circumstances. Jackknifing occurs when a truck’s cab and trailer get out of sync, which causes the two sections to form an L or V shape. Almost all jackknife accidents are caused by a loss of traction between the truck’s wheels and the road, which can cause the tires of each part of the truck to skid. This skidding can result in jackknifing, in which the truck’s trailer swings out from behind the cab and hits anything in its path — including other vehicles.

Conditions that Can Lead to Jackknife Accidents

As with most types of vehicle accidents, jackknife accidents are caused mostly (but not entirely) by human error. Some of the most common conditions that can cause jackknife accidents are:

  • Speeding: It is well-known that speeding increases the chances of getting into any kind of vehicle accident, and the same holds true for trucks. If a truck is driving at excessive speeds and slams on its breaks, this can dramatically increase the risk of jackknifing.
  • Failure to Watch Blind Spots: Trucks have much larger blind spots than passenger vehicles, and it is very easy for a fatigued or distracted truck driver to lose sight of cars in them. Jackknife accidents can occur when a truck driver overcorrects after trying to avoid hitting a car in his blind spot.
  • Driver Fatigue: Truck drivers work long hours, which can take a toll on their ability to drive safely. Drivers who doze off at the wheel often overcorrect when they are startled back into consciousness, and this can result in jackknife accidents for truck drivers.
  • Weather Conditions: Any weather conditions that cause a loss of traction on the road — such as snow, sleet, and rain — increase the risk of jackknifing.
  • Road Design: Steep, narrow, and curvy roads present great challenges to truck drivers. If they do not handle these conditions properly (such as taking curves too fast), they can lose traction and jackknife.

Contact a Waldorf Truck Accident Lawyer for More Information about Jackknife Accidents

If you have suffered an injury in a jackknife accident, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries through a personal injury action. For more information about jackknife accidents, contact a Waldorf truck accident lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas E. Pyles by calling 301-705-5006.