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Should truck drivers be able to avoid jackknifing?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2022 | Truck Accidents

When you’re sharing the highway with large trucks, it can be scary. Your hope is that they are able to maintain control of their vehicles and not end up causing a crash by swinging their trailer into another lane.

Unfortunately, there are some truck drivers who make mistakes that lead to jackknife accidents. Truck drivers who speed too quickly for the conditions or who suddenly brake may be more likely to cause this kind of crash, especially when side winds are present.

Understanding jackknifing

Jackknifing happens when the trailer attached to the cab swings to the side of the vehicle. In a full jackknife, the trailer goes perpendicular to the road and may turn over as a result.

Many truck drivers are able to steer out of a jackknife accident. They might speed up to regain control over a trailer that has started to swing, or they could turn in a way that minimizes the risk of the trailer overturning in the roadway.

However, if a driver stops too quickly, the trailer is likely to continue forward. If it can’t go straight ahead, it is likely to swing to the side and could end up leading to a serious crash.

Jackknifing doesn’t only happen because of speeding. It can also be a result of ice on the roadway, heavy winds or gales that push on the trailer and other causes. Drivers have to be alert, so they know when to pull over, speed up or slow down to avoid a jackknife.

What do you do if you think a jackknife is going to happen or you see one starting to happen?

As a driver in a smaller vehicle, your goal should be to get out of the way. If the truck ahead of you is starting to swing from side to side but hasn’t yet jackknifed, you might try honking at them to get their attention as you back away. If the jackknife does start, slow down or pull over so you’re not in the roadway as others attempt to avoid the collision. Quick maneuvers to get out of the way could be the difference between walking away and ending up in the hospital.