About 13 percent of all traffic fatalities involve a large truck, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Jackknife truck accidents are some of the most dangerous types of commercial truck crashes, and can cause serious injuries and fatalities.
What is a jackknife accident?
A jackknife accident occurs when the truck’s drive wheels lock up and the driver loses control of the truck. The trailer continues to move forward, sliding up alongside the cab, out of control. When the trailer slides upward and nearly overtakes the cab, the truck forms an “L” shape similar to a jackknife partly open.
When an 80,000 lb. commercial truck is barreling down the road and loses control, jackknifing can send the vehicle off the road or across medians and into oncoming traffic. The trailer may swing into other lanes and strike other vehicles, pedestrians, and more.
Risk Factors for Jackknife Accidents
Jackknife accidents can be caused by numerous factors. “[J]ackknife crashes are complex events influenced by driver characteristics, the driving environment, the vehicle, and the interaction among the three,” explains the NHTSA.
Below are a few risk factors.
- Speed limit of 55 mph or higher (an increase of 10 mph in posted speed limit increases odds of jackknifing by nearly 50 percent)
- Curved roads (increase odds of jackknifing by 86 percent)
- Trailers with light loads (heavier loads are less likely to jackknife, although they are more likely to roll over)
- Long trailers
- Poor lighting (increase odds of jackknifing by 43 percent)
Weather is another major factor, which is often a problem in cold, snowy climates such as Ohio. On November 19, 2014, even though there was only half an inch of snow in Toledo, “weather-related motor mayhem was rampant enough at lunchtime that police stopped responding to property-damage crashes for a short time,” reports The Blade. One of the accidents that occurred on November 19 was a jackknife. Two semis jackknifed on I-75 at the entrance ramp from Alexis Road.
How the driver reacts can affect whether or not the truck will jackknife. The best thing a truck driver can do if he or she starts to lose control of the rig is to apply a certain pressure to the brakes. If a driver hits a patch of ice, for instance, and locks up his the drive axle brakes, the truck may jackknife.
Jackknife Accidents Can Be Catastrophic
Jackknife accidents can cause horrendous damage and often lead to multi-car collisions. If the victims survive the crash, they often suffer catastrophic injuries, such as those listed below.
- Skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries
- Crushing injuries and amputation
- Fractures and shattered bones
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Burns, scarring, and disfigurement
- Internal injuries, organ damages, and internal bleeding
Review our previous blog post on serious injuries that may result from truck accidents for more information.
Truck Accident Attorney
If you or your loved one were injured in a jackknife accident, call our attorneys at Bressman Law to discuss your case and the best ways to pursue a settlement for your damages. Contact us today 877-538-1116 to schedule a free consultation.