Jackknifing is induced by skidding or sliding. The ability to recover from a skid in an 80,000 tractor with a trailer is difficult. Every commercial truck driver is trained to avoid skidding and jackknifing. The three most common causes of jackknifing are over acceleration, over braking and over steering. Over acceleration causes too much power to the drive wheels causing them to spin. If a truck driver applies the brakes too hard it can cause the wheels to lock up. If a driver over steers the front wheels may slide, the drive tires slide or the trailer skids and swings out.
Over steering and over braking can lead to a trailer jackknifing. This occurs because the trailer’s wheels lock leading to a skid. The trailer continues to move at a higher speed than the tractor causing the trailer to slide around. This endangers unsuspecting cars to the side that may be struck by the sliding trailer or may have its travel path blocked by the trailer.
TRAILER JACKKNIFING CAN BE PREVENTED
Drivers are Trained to Prevent Trailer Jackknifing
CDL manuals instruct drivers how to prevent jackknifing. This includes conducting inspections of the air systems and making certain that the brakes are properly adjusted. The driver is supposed to adjust his speed according to weather and road conditions. Truck drivers are trained to read road and traffic conditions much further ahead than passenger car drivers. By reading the road ahead they can adjust their speed to avoid the need to aggressively brake or steer. Drivers are trained to brake before entering curves as opposed to applying their brakes while in the curve. A Board-Certified truck accident lawyer can determine and prove what negligent acts led to a jackknife truck accident.
The motor carrier may also be responsible for jackknifing accidents due to inadequate driver training, driver supervision and failure to maintain the trucks. Driver fatigue and substance abuse may result in delayed reactions that are followed by an overreaction. An 80,000-pound truck that jackknifes is likely to cause catastrophic injuries to those that are driving near the truck.
Drivers are trained in techniques to recover from a skid. Tractor-Trailer Driving Manuals emphasize that skid recovery is a skill that is difficult to perform. The best solution is to never need to use the skill.
TRACTOR JACKKNIFING IS PREVENTABLE
Driver training, vehicle maintenance and proper cargo loading prevent Jackknifing.
A tractor jackknife occurs when the drive wheels lose traction. This can be caused by wheels locking up or by over acceleration. The drive wheels then attempt to overtake the front wheels. This results in the rear of the tractor swinging out. The trailer continues in its original direction pushing the rear of the tractor that has already swung out of position.
A tractor jackknife is preventable. Commercial truck driving manuals instruct drivers to avoid over braking. Over acceleration and sudden downshifts. Trucking companies have a duty to load cargo securely to prevent any load shifting. During pre-trip inspections drivers must inspect the braking system and tire tread. Failures in any of these areas could be deemed a cause of a jackknifing truck accident.
Improperly loading cargo can cause a truck and trailer to jackknife. Each axle of the trailer should be evenly loaded to ensure an even weight distribution. Drivers can position cargo and adjust the rear sliding tandem axle to ensure an even weight distribution. Uneven weight distributions not only put a truck at risk of jackknifing but makes it harder for the driver to recover from a skid. Weight station logs should be reviewed in jackknife accidents. Many companies, unfortunately, have the option of paying a fine at a weigh station rather than having the driver fix the cargo or bring another truck come to take part of an overweight load. This site recommends that you consult with a Board-Certified truck accident attorney if you are hit by a jackknifing tractor trailer.
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