One of the most dangerous large truck accidents is a jackknife accident. What makes it so treacherous is that once in motion the truck driver cannot control it. It can crash into anything near it, moving in a very unpredictable way, leaving a trail of damage and possibly injury.
Not all trucks have the potential of jackknifing – only those that are “articulated”, meaning those with a moveable joint. Articulated vehicles include tractor- trailers, trains, trams, and certain cities buses. In a jackknife accident, a trailing section of such a vehicle folds up against the section in front of, much like how a knife folds up.
Causes of jackknife accidents
Most of us have come across a jackknifed vehicle, usually a truck on the highway, around a sharp bend, or when the weather is icy and the roads are slick. Strong winds can also cause jackknifing. Sometimes these types of accidents are unavoidable but most are completely avoidable.
Those that are avoidable are sometimes caused by truck drivers, trucking companies, or companies who are responsible for loading the truck. The following are some reasons why a big rig might jackknife.
- Failing to properly secure and load cargo
- Driving with inadequate training
- Improper braking
- Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Taking turns too quickly
- Ignoring adverse weather conditions
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Distracted driving
Fortunately, technology is available that can help prevent a truck from jackknifing.
- Anti-lock brakes on a tractor or a trailer, or both, is a good countermeasure for brakes locking up. With anti-lock brakes, vehicles are equipped with sensors that detect unusual heavy braking. When the brakes are slammed on, which could lead to brake locking, the sensors decrease the brake pressure on the wheel.
- A few different technologies are available that attempt to prevent a tractor and its trailer from folding too far into each other, thus reducing the amount of damage the truck can cause in jackknifing.
As engineers tackle the physics associated with the problems of jackknifing, more and more workable technology is emerging that will eventually render our roads safer.
In the meantime, be sure to know how to drive safely when near a truck. Never pass a truck on the right, never tailgate a truck, don’t driver in a trucker’s blind spot, don’t driver alongside a big rig (pass them or pull back), and always remember that if you can’t see their mirrors, they can’t see you!
Truck accidents are one of my firm’s major areas of expertise. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a big truck, give me a call so we can discuss your situation. Consultations are always free.
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The Law Offices of Peter Miller
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Little Rock, AR 72206
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