What Causes a Truck to Jackknife?

Published on Dec 22, 2021 at 11:01 am in Truck Accidents.

aerial view of trucks

A jackknife truck accident is one in which the cab and the trailer fold in on each other as the vehicle comes to a stop. In some cases, the cab and the trailer may come apart, which can increase the risk of serious injuries or fatalities to the truck’s driver and others in the vicinity of the damaged vehicle. Let’s take a closer look at what causes this type of accident and what to do if you are involved in a crash caused by a commercial truck.

Poor Road Conditions Can Lead To a Jackknife

It can be harder for large trucks to stop while driving on roads covered by ice, snow, or gravel. This is because the wheels don’t make solid contact with the surface of the road itself. Spinning on something with less friction like ice makes it more difficult to come to a complete stop. If a driver brakes too hard while driving on a slippery road, it can cause the truck to skid.

Driving Too Fast Can Lead To This Type of Accident

Ideally, a commercial vehicle will not drive any faster than the posted speed limit on a road or highway. In most cases, the speed limit on a highway is less than 70 miles per hour. However, it’s not uncommon for some truck drivers to operate their vehicles at speeds of 80 miles per hour or more.

The biggest danger of driving too fast is that the brakes may fail if too much force is applied to them. Generally speaking, more force is needed to stop a vehicle that is traveling at 80 miles per hour compared to one that is traveling at 60 miles per hour.

When too much pressure is put on the brake system, there is a chance that it will lock up. If this happens, it increases the risk that the trailer may swing wildly as it comes to a stop.

Improperly Loading a Vehicle Could Cause a Jackknife To Occur

A commercial vehicle is supposed to be loaded in such a way that weight is evenly distributed throughout the trailer. Furthermore, items are supposed to be secured so that they don’t move or shift while in transit. If items are not put in a truck properly, it could result in one part of the vehicle being heavier than the rest. In such a scenario, the truck may pull to whichever side has the most weight, which could cause conditions that are ideal for a jackknife.

Inclement Weather Conditions Could Result in a Serious Crash

If a truck is traveling at high speeds on a windy day, there is a chance that the wind could push the cabin and trailer in different directions. In some cases, the trailer could be literally pushed around while the truck is idling at a light or is sitting in a parking lot. Therefore, truckers are encouraged to constantly monitor their trailers while traveling during periods of potentially dangerous weather.

Trucks That Are Not Properly Maintained May Be Vulnerable To Jackknifing

A commercial vehicle should always be inspected before it is allowed to transport goods. Doing so can help to spot issues that may make it more susceptible to being involved in a jackknife accident. For instance, a truck that has improperly inflated tires may be more difficult to control on poor roads or may be more susceptible to a blowout when the brakes are applied.

If a tire blows out, it could result in the driver losing control of the vehicle. The same may be true if there are issues with the brakes, as it may make it difficult or impossible to come to a stop without causing the truck to slide or skid. Finally, it’s important to make sure that the trailer is properly connected to the cabin before making a delivery.

In the event that the cab and trailer are not firmly connected, it could cause the trailer to sway. In addition to potentially causing a jackknife crash, there is a chance that a loose trailer could actually come off of the trailer hitch. If that were to happen, it could jeopardize the safety of other drivers and passengers sharing the highway with the defective truck.

Immediately after a truck accident, you should call for help if it is safe to do so. After you are allowed to leave the scene, it is in your best interest to seek medical treatment. Doing so will make it easier to establish that the wreck was the proximate cause of your injuries. Finally, you are encouraged to contact a personal injury attorney who may be able to help you obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

The attorneys at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC are prepared to help answer any questions you may have and can represent you legally if you choose to file a claim against a driver or trucking company that was negligent. To learn how we can help, contact us for a zero-obligation case consultation at no cost to you.

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