What Causes Semi Trucks (18 Wheelers) to Jackknife?
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    What Causes Semi Trucks (18 Wheelers) to Jackknife?

    Some of the most dangerous accidents with commercial trucks is an accident known as a jackknife accident. During these accidents, the driver will lose control over their trailer which weighs thousands of pounds. A jackknifed trailer presents many obvious dangers. A trailer that is swinging out of control can hit other vehicles in its path across multiple lanes of traffic. A report by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis concluded that jackknife accidents account for 10 percent of all truck-related occupant fatalities.

    Recent Jackknife Accidents

    Jackknife accidents are relatively common in the trucking industry, however, when they do occur they can be deadly. On August 5, 2016, a tractor-trailer accident on Interstate 77 near Charleston West Virginia sent one person to the hospital. Another jackknifed semi-truck on Interstate 196 in Grand Rapids Michigan near Lake Michigan drive highlights that even if there are no injuries in these accident types that these accidents can cause significant delays and road closures. The Michigan Department of Transportation closed eastbound interstate 196 for severe hours because the jackknifed trailer spilled its fuel resulting in significant delays.

    About Jackknife Accidents

    Not every vehicle is susceptible to jackknife accidents. These type of accidents only happen to articulated vehicles which are vehicles that have a moveable joint. Articulated vehicles often include tractor-trailers, trains, certain buses, and other commercial vehicles. As the name suggests, a jackknife accident occurs when the trailer or hitched component loses control and swings towards the front section and thereby creating a ninety-degree angle resembling the famous folding knife.

    Causes of Jackknife Accidents

    Driving a vehicle that can weigh over fifty thousand pounds is not an easy challenge, and drivers are under constant pressure and stress to not only meet strict and demanding deadlines but to pay attention to the road and navigate difficult conditions. While there are many reasons why a truck may be involved in a jackknife accident, most of them are entirely avoidable. However, some of the reasons why a truck accident can happen include the following:

    Failing to properly secure and load cargo

    Trucking companies are required to load cargo in a manner that will ensure that the cargo is not free to move around the trailer. There are complex laws which dictate how much weight a trailer can carry and how the cargo should be secured.  However, many companies do not load their trailers properly in an effort to fit more cargo and to send their trucks out on the road faster.


    speeding is one of the leading causes of jackknife accidents. When drivers exceed the speed limit and or drive too fast for the road conditions.

    Driving without adequate training

    Commercial drivers are required to undergo different licensing requirements in order to be able to drive. However, many have complained that these requirements are simply inadequate. Drivers who are not properly trained in how to operate their vehicle can cause a jackknife accident simply by their inexperience.

    Improper braking

    Because a tractor-trailer is articulated drivers need to be careful how they bring their vehicle to a stop. If a driver hits their brakes too hard they can cause the trailer behind them to continue moving forward and cause a jackknife accident.

    There are many other reasons why a truck may jackknife when it is on the road. One additional reason that is entirely in the driver’s control is because of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Commercial drivers have much stricter laws regulating drinking and driving, while states generally find that a person is driving while intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.08, a commercial driver generally has a much lower standard and even a BAC of 0.02 could be enough to deem the driver impaired. However, while this may seem like a strict standard, it is for the best considering the potential effect of an accident.

    Injured in a Truck Crash? Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer Today

    If you have suffered a serious injury in an accident with a commercial vehicle, you potentially have legal options to make the responsible parties financially accountable for your injuries. To speak to strategic and aggressive commercial truck accident lawyers call (215) 709-6940 today.

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