Personal Injury


A Jackknifed Tractor-Trailer Can Wreak Havoc

  • Nov 15 2013
  • Gilleon Law Firm, APC

According to statistics collected by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), 8,282 large trucks and 1,118 buses were involved in nonfatal crashes in 2010. That same year, 2,948 of the accidents involving large trucks and 679 of the accidents involving buses resulted in injuries. One of the most dramatic types of large truck crashes is a jackknifed tractor-trailer.

What is a jackknifed tractor-trailer?

A jackknifed tractor and trailer is arguably one of the most frightening accidents a motorist may witness. When a truck’s trailer skids, the trailer may swing around at a rapid speed, reaching a 90-degree angle with the tractor. During the skidding, the truck driver possesses no control over the tractor and trailer, which is a serious threat to all motorists in its way on the road. Most jackknifing accidents result in a rollover.

How jackknifing happens

Most often, jackknifes occur because the truck’s drive wheels lock in a skid from a slippery road surface. The trailer’s wheels roll forward, causing the driver to lose control, and the trailer swings out to one side. When this occurs, the truck driver may:

  • Lock the steering axle brakes, causing the trailer to proceed straight
  • Lock the drive axles, which causes jackknifing accidents
  • Lock the trailer axle, which causes the driver to lose control of the direction

How to avoid jackknifing

Some simple safe driving techniques can significantly decrease the frequency of jackknifing accidents. During slippery conditions caused by rain or snow, you need to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. In addition, rather than braking at turns, you should decelerate while at a straight in the road before the turn. An additional point of advice is that you should break gradually over a considerable distance. If you have to evade an object or car, brake, then release the brakes and swerve, and then reapply the brakes. If you find yourself in a skid, release the brakes and steer into the skid to regain control.

Jackknifed tractor and trailer crashes can cause catastrophic injuries. If you have suffered injuries from any type of truck accident, call our San Diego personal injury lawyer for a free consultation.

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