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What Are Jackknife Accidents and How Do They Happen?

Published on Feb 27, 2020 at 10:44 am in Truck Accident.
What Are Jackknife Accidents and How Do They Happen?

When a semitruck is in a collision, sometimes it can cause a jackknife, which is when the cab and trailer fold in toward one another. The two parts of the up to 80,000-pound vehicle form a 90-degree angle, which is not only dangerous, but also looks unnatural and scary. In very bad accidents, the angle is even smaller, which can cause the cab and trailer to collapse into themselves.

Jackknife accidents are dangerous for semitruck drivers and regular vehicle drivers alike. Commercial truck drivers are in danger during a jackknife because the trailer hitting the cab can be deadly. Drivers of the surrounding regular vehicles are also in danger if they are in the path of the trailer, cab, or truck as a whole while folding. Even though the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that less than five percent of fatal accidents involve jackknifed tractor trailers, they are still serious scenarios to be aware of.

How Jackknife Accidents Happen

Jackknife accidents are rare but are very dangerous when they do happen. In Kentucky, there were 10,620 collisions involving large trucks in 2018, as detailed in a report by Kentucky Traffic Safety Data Services (KTSDS). Though some contributing factors were listed in the report, there were no statistics mentioned for the amount of jackknifed tractor trailers because there were so few.

A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that as the weight of the trailer goes up, the propensity to jackknife goes down. But as the length of the trailer increases, the propensity to jackknife also increases. The study also concluded that these factors go into how jackknife accidents happen:

  • High speed. The number one cause of jackknife accidents is speeding. When trucks are driving over 55 miles per hour, they don’t have enough room to brake if something goes wrong in front of them. If they brake too hard, their trailer can become unaligned from the cab, and cause it to fold on the hitch from the force of stopping.
  • Curved roads. Many curved roads have signs that warn large trucks that they might rollover, but they also can cause them to jackknife. If a truck driver takes the curve too quickly or makes a quick wrong movement, they can cause a serious accident.
  • Poor weather. Just like with regular vehicles, bad weather conditions can be treacherous for semitrucks. Unlike regular cars, though, a large truck’s wheels are not all aligned all the time. The smallest shift from ice or water can cause the wheels to move out of line and jackknife.

All of these factors are increased if a truck driver is distracted or negligent while driving. Large trucks can be deadly even when a driver is paying attention, so an inattentive driver makes the chances of a serious accident even higher. Mechanical defects can also cause accidents in large trucks. When the brakes, steering, tires, or tow hitches fail, there is only so much a driver can do to prevent their truck from crashing or jackknifing.

Todd W. Burris Can Help You Recover Compensation

If you’ve been in an accident with a large truck, you probably have a lot to deal with. You could have serious physical injuries as well as emotional trauma and expensive bills from the incident. But if you weren’t responsible for the accident, why do you have to pay? At the Law Office of Todd W. Burris, we can help you fight for compensation for all of the difficulties you are facing from this accident. Contact us so that we can start discussing your legal options and get you on the path to recovery today.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice. Viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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