Posted by Bryan Delius on 06/18/2018

What Causes Big Rig Jackknife Accidents?

What Causes Big Rig Jackknife Accidents?

Jackknifing occurs when a tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler skids and loses control, with the trailer swinging out to the side of the cab, which gives the appearance of a “V” or “L” shape, similar to a pocketknife. To explain it simply, the cab continues moving forward as the trailer swings wide. The resulting damage to persons and property can be extensive. These types of crashes can affect multiple vehicles due to the fact that the trailer may cross the multiple lanes of traffic as it swings out.

The question is: what can instigate the sequence of events leading up to a jackknifing crash?

Inclement weather

Jackknifing has a higher probability of occurring during inclement weather conditions, including rain, snow, sleet, and ice. Slippery roads provide hazardous braking conditions and also limit tire traction and driver visibility. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) encourages drivers to exercise extreme caution when driving commercial trucks during hazardous weather conditions.

Mechanical issues

Jackknifing can occur as a result of any number of mechanical problems plaguing the vehicle, including failing transmission, brake issues, and defective engine parts. Section 396.3 of the FMCSA Code of Federal Regulations states “every motor carrier and intermodal equipment provider must systematically inspect, repair, and maintain … all motor vehicles and intermodal equipment subject to its control.” The rules also lay out standards concerning keeping and retaining vehicle maintenance, inspection, and repair records. The responsibility rests with the carrier to determine and implement these actions. Failure to do so can potentially leave the carrier open to a personal injury lawsuit.

Driver error or negligence

The failure of drivers to act reasonably or exercise proper caution behind the wheel is the most common reason for car and truck accidents across the board. Truck drivers who speed and also act with negligence, such as failing to yield right-of-way, texting while driving, or failing to remain focused on the roadway, run the serious risk of entering into a sudden braking situation that instigates a jackknifing incident. Truckers also must allow sufficient braking distance between their rigs and vehicles in front in order to avoid the potential for jackknifing.

According to a report issued by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, additional contributing factors to a jackknife crash include driving a large truck on a curved road, and/or in a speed-zone greater than 55 mph. As well, the longer the truck, the more likely a jackknife accident will occur.

Trucking crashes, including jackknife truck crashes are extremely serious incidents and must not be taken lightly. They have the potential to produce significant and even catastrophic injuries to drivers and other occupants of vehicles involved in the crash.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck jackknife collision or any other type of vehicle crash, our experienced Sevierville truck accident attorneys at Delius & McKenzie, PLLC can investigate your case and fight vigorously for the justice and compensation to which you are entitled. We serve clients throughout Tennessee, including in Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Seymour, and Pigeon Forge. Call us today at 865.428.8780 about your case.

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