Jackknife accidents are one of the most common yet damaging forms of truck accidents and can cause property damage, serious injuries, and fatalities. Jackknife accidents occur when a truck’s trailer swings out past the tractor causing the truck to lose control and collide with other vehicles and property until the truck comes to a stop. Jackknife accidents are so prevalent that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that jackknifing accidents represent ten percent of all fatalities due to truck crashes. This article will examine the cause and of jackknife accidents and advice on how drivers can avoid these types of accidents from occurring.

Causes of Jackknife Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that in 2014 there were 3,744 fatal crashes due to jackknife accidents. While there are a variety of factors that can cause accidents, jackknife accidents tend to be caused by the following several elements.

  • Faulty brakes. Brake failures and improperly adjusted brakes can cause an imbalance in how braking force is applied to the truck’s wheels. This imbalance can cause a truck to become angled in a certain direction. When this direction exceeds fifteen degrees off of the centerline under braking, a truck can jackknife.
  • Slippery Roads. Loss of traction with the road can result in jackknife accidents.
  • Sudden braking. There are some situations that require commercial truck drivers to brake suddenly including highway crashes. Drivers who swerve too quickly can cause the vehicle to lock up and lose control which can result in jackknife accidents.
  • Quickly jerking the steering wheel greatly increases the possibility that a truck will jackknife. Drivers might try swerving to avoid situations like accidents that arise suddenly.

Parties Responsible for Jackknife Accidents

In addition to truck drivers, other parties may be responsible for jackknife accidents including trucking companies, manufacturers of truck parties, or other parties.

Ways to Prevent Jackknife Accidents

There are several pieces of advice that drivers can follow to minimize the risk of jackknife accidents from occurring, which includes:

  • Because brakes are a common cause of jackknife accidents, drivers should implement a variety of brake techniques. First, truck drivers should brake gradually whenever possible. Drivers should also avoid braking while turning or swerving.
  • Load Weight. Commercial truck drivers should understand that trucks with lighter loads are more inclined to jackknife than trucks with heavier loads. As a result, commercial truck drivers should learn how to drive with both light and heavy loads. Drivers should make sure that loads are even distributed throughout a trailer to prevent the truck from jackknifing.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a jackknife accident, contact our law firm. Call 409-838-1000 or email our lawyers to schedule your free initial consultation.