Jackknifing is something that occurs when one motorized vehicle is pulling a trailer or other separate vehicle on the road. If the vehicle being pulled gets out of sync with the vehicle doing the pulling, then a V or an L shape can form. This usually involves the trailer coming up off the ground or swerving an inappropriate amount to either side.
When a truck or big rig pulling a large trailer jackknifes, the driver might lose control. Even if the driver maintains control of the cab, the trailer itself is usually traveling in a separate lane of traffic or off the highway, which leads to damage to other vehicles during the jackknife event. Even more serious accidents can occur if the jackknife leads to a collision or truck roll.
Loss of traction is one of the biggest causes of jackknifing, which is why this is an even greater concern on wet roads or during winter months when ice makes roads slick. Truck drivers must be constantly aware of road conditions and how both the cab and trailer are handling those conditions.
Jackknifing can be avoided in many situations through careful and proactive driving. Drivers should monitor trailers constantly via mirrors, drive with a fully-loaded trailer whenever possible and avoid slamming on the brakes, which can lead to the trailer slinging around in front of the cab due to the momentum.
Careful driving reduces accident risks and saves lives, but it doesn’t stop all incidents. If you are involved in an accident caused by a jackknifed truck, you might have the basis for a compensation claim against the driver or trucking company. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer to find out what your options are.
Source: Bay and Bay Transportation, “How Truck Drivers Can Avoid Jackknifing,” accessed Aug. 26, 2016