Jackknife accidents are quite common with tractor-trailers. The consequences are disastrous and such accidents form one of the most common causes of road mishaps.
A tractor-trailer accident is a lot more complex than a car accident and jackknife accidents are even more dangerous. The results are generally catastrophic. Such accidents:
- may lead to considerable damage to the passerby’s vehicles
- can inflict serious injuries to those involved in the accidents
- can also lead to death
What is a Jackknife Accident?
A jackknife accident occurs when an 18 wheeler truck and its trailer undergoes a skid and the trailer swings out from its line of motion and forms a 90-degree angle with the tractor. The term jackknife has been coined to indicate the similarity in the shape of the tractor and trailer after the accident, with a closed jackknife.
When the trailer spins out of control, it suffers the chance of colliding with the tractor as well as the other vehicles on the road. If the driver is unable to control the vehicle in time, then the trailer ends up pushing the tractor from behind.
The end result: the whole tractor-trailer spins out of control and becomes a liability for the other vehicles occupying the road.
What Causes a Tractor-trailer Jackknife Accident?
The primary cause of a tractor-trailer jackknife accident is the loss of friction between the wheels of the trailer and the road. Apart from that, there can be many other causes of jackknife accidents. For example, sudden brakes can lead to the trailer spinning out of control, causing a rapid jackknife accident. Sometimes the driver could be at fault too.
- Distracted driving is a common cause of such accidents. Sometimes the driver may not be paying adequate attention to the vehicle and the road. This could stem from a number of reasons like texting while driving, eating, talking on the phone, and so on.
- Sometimes the reason can be reckless driving on the driver’s part as well. Speeding is a very common cause and has taken thousands of lives until now.
- The driver could be under the influence of alcohol, which results in impaired driving and consequently, disastrous accidents.
- Driver fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel isn’t uncommon. Truck drivers tend to work illegally beyond their shift duration in the hopes of getting paid extra money. But the sleep deprivation sinks in at some point in time and results in crashes.
Sometimes the reason behind a jackknife accident could be the poor condition of the road or even the weather. High-velocity winds, storms, and snow can also be the culprits behind a jackknife accident. Wet roads and snow-covered roads are very dangerous to drive on, as the wheels tend to lose traction on such roads. Improper braking on such roads may result in the locking up of wheels. And once this happens, the wheels lose the power to turn and grip the pavement, thus resulting in accidents.
Empty trailers tend to undergo jackknife accidents more than loaded ones. In addition, downhill turns could be the cause of immense trouble too. There could be many other reasons for jackknife incidents as well.
How to Prevent a Jackknife Accident?
The obvious answer to this question is careful driving. However, sometimes things get out of the drivers’ hands and cause jackknife accidents. Exercising caution is of utmost importance and the following guidelines can be of help too:
- Drivers should avoid braking and swerving at the same time since this can result in drastic consequences.
- Fitting modern anti-lock brakes in vehicles is a great idea. These can sense the speed of the tire and adjust the braking force accordingly.
- Loading down the trailer with heavy materials could be a great way for the tires to gain a grip on the road, preventing skids.
- Instead of slamming the brakes, the driver can brake progressively while reducing the speed of the tractor-trailer.
If you or your loved ones have been victims of a jackknife accident, then you should take immediate action and locate the best truck accident attorney near you. An experienced attorney will be able to point out your rights and the course of action that needs to be taken. If you live in Houston, then the right Houston truck wreck attorney would be able to help you obtain closure and compensation for such an accident.