Truck Accidents

Jackknife Truck Accidents


Jackknifing and Driver Error

Jackknife accident occurs when a trailer is at a sharp angle to the tractor or a type of skid occurs where either the trailer or the tractor loses traction and slides sideways.

Driver Error Causes Jackknifing

Jackknifing is the Result of an Overreaction

Jackknifing is induced by a skidding or sliding. Unlike in a car, the ability to recover from such a skid in an 80,000 tractor with a trailer is more 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 oversteering. Over acceleration causes too much power to the drive wheels causing them to spin. If a driver brakes too hard it can cause the wheels to lock up. If a driver over steers the front wheels may start to 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 is incredibly dangerous for unsuspecting vehicles 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

In every commercial driver’s manual drivers receive advice 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. Commercial 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.

The motor carrier may also bear some responsibility 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 followed by an overreaction. An 80,000-pound truck that jackknifes is likely to cause catastrophic injuries to those that are driving next to or approaching the truck.

Drivers are trained 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 are must inspect the braking system and tire tread.

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